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BEWARE!!! – An efficient „scheme“ of cheating with payment via Western Union
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Dec 19, 2007

Hello. Wanted to share with you with the info and experience just to help you to avoid similar situations that result in non-payment for your job, a lot of wasted time and other related things.

The situation happened to me on recent days was like that.

I got into contact with one private person from USA who asked me to do an urgent translation of a pack of legal documents. The job was rather urgent and not easy one (needed an overnight work). I asked for a rather big price (well, expecting that the person will negotiate a little bit and that we will end on a mutually reasonable deal). That person agreed on my proposal without any negotiations. OK, I thought. Seems got a good client. As it was a private person with whom I dealt in my life for the first time for a big and urgent job, I have asked about a full advance payment of the amount for the job. Again a consent without any negotiation. Just that client insisted for payment via Western Union instead of moneybookers or Pay Pal. Well, still understandable – not everyone has all those moneybooks and paypals. As it was a late evening at my end, and early noon at the client’s end, he said he will transfer the money by Western Union in a couple of hours, gave me the control number for Western Union transfer and I planned to visit my bank to take the cash the next morning.

The client begged me to translate part of the documents still in the evening because he said he needed them still on the same day. OK, translated one-third from the whole pile, sent them to him and went to sleep as it was 4 am already. Then, thought, will go to the bank to take my money from him, and complete the rest docs for the evening (as we agreed).

Now see how the “scheme” of cheating works:

I went to the bank with that Western Union control number, the bank clerk said all is OK (the name of the sender, and the control number, my bank can see this transfer as sent, incl. its amount), BUT the bank refused to pay me this cash explaining that the sender wrote off the amount for Western Union from his credit card and that some verification at that end was needed to complete the transfer and for the bank to be able to pay me the cash. The clerk offered to contact the sender and clarify this out and then come back. I wrote an email to the client stating the situation – email went like into the water. Wrote again because thought it was just a technical issue and needed to know how we shall complete the job (esp. under tight deadlines, let alone other works piling up). No reply again. Today I went to the bank – talked to the same clerk who helped me the previous time, and the reply was that the Western Union transfer was cancelled. The reason – the credit card of the sender appeared to be empty (with "0" balance) and the Western Union transfer “bounced back” as his bank could not write off the cash to be sent via Western Union. Wrote again an email to the client about that – no reply. Tried to phone him (the number he phoned). The number is out of coverage.

So, all a fraud needed there was 1) a naïve translator who trusts people a little bit (and yes, really naïve, as I could trust no one, take the cash first, and only then start with the job), 2) an empty credit card account to generate the Western Union transfer at first to have the transfer code to appear things as real as to make the person trust, 3) to be a couple of thousand km from the translator not to have “problems” after it turns out it was a pure cheating.

Please be careful as not to make the same mistake and be aware that you can be even cheated like that. Best of all is to trust no one, esp. clients “from the Internet” as things might end with a half of day of wasted time, several hours overnight work, rescheduled other jobs and a charity Christmas gifts (free jobs) for a person you do not know.

P.S. The name of this person will appear on BB.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 21:55
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Perhaps the name is also invented Dec 19, 2007

Sorry to hear this, Marius. Rather do not deal with private persons, they should go to an agency at their place of residence.
Regards
Heinrich


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
to trust or not to trust Dec 19, 2007

better not...

Heinrich - it was quite a logical thing from the client's point - going to an agency in USA for the same could cost at least 2 times more So, why not work with the job doer directly (can save quite a piece of cash) where the job doer (if from agency) will get the same at the very best.

But best of all - a simple system: 1) I have money, then 2) I do the job, 3) no way for another deal (esp. from unknown private persons). Trusting people is good (at least, living with a philosophy that not all people are pigs), but ...


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Per Magnus  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:55
English to Norwegian
Private persons Dec 19, 2007

Not at all Heinrich. Sure you can work for private persons. I do that on occasion, but I ALLWAYS get the money up front. It is a very good reminder from Marius, don’t do the work until you have the money in your hand. I have a couple of times lost customers because I insist of payment, but this is better than working for free.

Regards,
Per Magnus


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ingoociukas  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Two signs of cheating Dec 19, 2007

Hello Marius,

All is so familiar. I got myself into a similar situation only as a seller not a translator. I was extremely urged to send the item ASAP and there was no negotiating about the price which was rather high. As a result I lost an expensive item and it was not even Christmas. Lesson learned. We should not accept very urgent jobs, unless you know and trust the client. Also, clients like to negotiate at least a little bit.

Better luck next time.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Regardless of how urgent Dec 19, 2007

Regardless of how urgent the job may be, one absolute condition should be "receipt of good funds", which means the money should be in your pocket in cash. You do not do the job until it is there.

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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
:) Dec 19, 2007

Dear Henry,

You are right - if there is something "very burning", better not to get involved into that at all. Unless you see that the client is really serious and/or you get all payment (and worth that rush) in advance. Seems education at the private University of Life is really expensive


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
fully agree Dec 19, 2007

ingoociukas wrote:

Hello Marius,

All is so familiar. I got myself into a similar situation only as a seller not a translator. I was extremely urged to send the item ASAP and there was no negotiating about the price which was rather high. As a result I lost an expensive item and it was not even Christmas. Lesson learned. We should not accept very urgent jobs, unless you know and trust the client. Also, clients like to negotiate at least a little bit.

Better luck next time.


All those "super rush" jobs involve a high lever of risk for the translator. Well, all is OK if it goes OK, but what if something wrong happens (say, unexpected problems with your computer) when all seconds are counted and then you miss the deadline to the client (well, even if the client is really a decent one). The outcome will be ~ the same - a lot of wasted time and no money (because you made problems with the job). Let alone the "human factor" working under pressure, overnight, etc.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
a reply from that "super client" I just received Dec 19, 2007

Just for your personal "evaluation" (just asked that person about the situation and about the payment):

Hi Hero,

Are you threateting me?
I hope you will tell me the same, face to face, on my next visit to Lithuania, or you might want to meet one of my friends, to explain you problems.
Send me invoice, for job offer already done, I will pay only because I am honest and very reputable businessman, as far as you translation, I can place really BAD advertisement on you side, because I think it's
not PRO at all, and the prices are horrible.

See you later smart ass


P.S. Could be funny if it was not really sad Hope they will not shoot me))



[Edited at 2007-12-19 20:19]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:55
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A possible variant - hasn't happened, but watch out! Dec 19, 2007

In some countries, like Brazil, it's impossible to get money directly from PayPal.

So a good alternative is http://www.xoom.com . It allows anyone to send money from a credit card or a PayPal account to a bank account in 30 countries via Xoom's business partners. It works fine, I do everything online, pay Xoom with my PayPal, provide my local banking & tax details, and the Brazilian Banco Rendimento (Xoom's local partner here) makes a cash deposit in local currency to my bank account within 24 hours.

If the sender puts my e-mail address in Xoom's online form, as soon as it's ordered, I'll get an e-mail that such a transfer was initiated. So far it hasn't failed, but I was always the sender. I wonder how long it would take to halt this transaction and warn the receiver if anything were not on the up-and-up.

So while I recommend Xoom to my countryfellow translators, I suggest them not to use it for the client to pay them directly. In spite of the fee, some USD 10-20 when any, it's worth being able to control both ends of an international money transfer. Even if it's an old, well-known client, you wouldn't like to have to pester the PM with what went wrong, especially if the money actually left from wherever it was, and did not make it to your account.

Finally, I am yet to meet a defaulting client who was not in a rush! rush! rush! mode at the outset!


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 13:55
Partial member
Spanish
+ ...
Private persons II Dec 19, 2007

Per Magnus wrote:

Not at all Heinrich. Sure you can work for private persons. I do that on occasion, but I ALLWAYS get the money up front. It is a very good reminder from Marius, don’t do the work until you have the money in your hand. I have a couple of times lost customers because I insist of payment, but this is better than working for free.

Regards,
Per Magnus


I'm sorry about your situation Marius and thanks for sharing. I couldn't agree more with Per Magnus about private persons, the only time I was cheated on a payment, it involved a private individual and a "lost" Money Order. Never again. For new clients and/or private individuals, it's always better to get the money up-front, even if it's just a percentage. If the client is serious about the job, and it's really urgent, he'll pay; if not, it ain't worth it. And never accept Money Orders or Western Union transfers.

About Xoom, I agree with José Henrique. It's a very good alternative to Paypal. Although the one thing about Paypal that no other service has, AFAIK, is its Protection service if there's an attempt of fraud

Claudia


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Lincoln Silveira
Brazil
Local time: 15:55
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Xoom works like charm Dec 20, 2007

José,

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

So while I recommend Xoom to my countryfellow translators, I suggest them not to use it for the client to pay them directly. In spite of the fee, some USD 10-20 when any, it's worth being able to control both ends of an international money transfer. Even if it's an old, well-known client, you wouldn't like to have to pester the PM with what went wrong, especially if the money actually left from wherever it was, and did not make it to your account.


Why not? Right now I am in the process of receiving a considerable amount of money from a long-term U.S client (agency PM) whom I provided "foolproof" advice as to how go about sending a Xoom transfer. I basically filled out myself all the details he would need, printed the browser forms/pages with details out in PDF and sent this "caminho das pedras" (recipe, walkthrough) to my client, further instructing him to do a "test run" with a smaller amount, say $50, to see if it would come through nicely and smooth.

When the $50 cleared at Banco do Brasil, I told the client to go ahead with the larger amount. Just today I got an email from Xoom saying the payment is being processed; actually, it has cleared on the client's side and now Xoom is processing disbursement to me. Good, because dues are in arrears back in Fortaleza. This has been an awesome client/payer for the last 2 years, however a bit, say, too forgetful in the last couple of months.

I have found Xoom to be quite reliable. The service (Brazilian, based in Porto Alegre) I used before have dropped their fees twice in the last yet failed to win me back from Xoom. Xoom proved twice faster and cheaper than the Brazilian service. Not only I believe to have eliminated Paypal as the middle man (agency is paying directly to me), as far as I know this agency will not bear any Xoom's fees whatsoever, because funds will come out from their bank account through Xoom, although takes a bit longer for it to reach my account in Brazil.

Granted, there is merit in your statement. Controlling both ends of the transfer here goes a long way, and keeping your business partner's burden low is a good policy, but I believe to have sorted this out by doing the way I did. So far, so good.

Finally, I am yet to meet a defaulting client who was not in a rush! rush! rush! mode at the outset!


Oh, the things they say to get you just do the job they want you to do!

Now, Marius, I am sorry that you have had to go through all this, but definitely try to extract lessons from the incident. The advice about being paid upfront with rush/individual clients is, in my opinion, worth of merit. Risk, in this case, should be kept on the client's side and not transferred to you, otherwise you might as well claim a share of company profits because in this case you would be their partner.

As for the daunting reply from the client, well, I don't know exactly what, or rather, how you told him what you had to tell to begin with. Supposing you didn't choose your words carefully, perhaps next time you must deal with a late payer it will be a good policy to appear you are doing your best to cooperate so that, and until he will fulfil his obligation instead of raising the tone right at the first opportunity. I am not telling you to be naïve, and do remind him he owes you for a job done, but even if you have to raise the pressure on him later, say, after so many e-mail reminders, there is a way to go about this that will keep hostility at bay.

If he won't pay, call it a loss then and keep going. You can always decline newer jobs from this or any other client who are known for their disloyalty when paying their service providers.

See if your "client" will pay by following his instructions and, if he does, and keeps his bad judgement about you just for himself, then simply ignore him. I know from personal experience back in my early days as lawyer (happened only once to me) that a loud barking dog will seldom bite.

Hope his words will be in vain, except of course when he says he will pay you!

Best,

LS


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:55
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Some clarification on what I said Dec 20, 2007

I have absolutely nothing to complain about Xoom. I'll just describe the process as I see it, as I think international payments is an important issue to Prozians and clients scattered all over the world.

Let's say that Client A orders a payment via Xoom from country A, to B's bank account in Brazil (I have no other example). Information items A must have and enter on B are:
- full name
- both parents' surnames
- full address as the bank has it
- CPF (national taxpayer's ID, a 9-dash-2 digits number, to be entered there without the dash)
- bank name (in Portuguese, to be selected on a long drop-down list)
- whether the account is checking or savings
- bank branch 4-digit number, and
- account number, which, depending on the bank, may have anything from 4 to 10 digits, a dash, and one checksum digit.

Do you need any more chances for human error?

Meanwhile, all one needs to pay via PayPal is the correct e-mail address.

Then Xoom electronically passes all this information to their local partner, in Brazil it's Banco Rendimento, which makes a money transfer for a deposit to B's account.

All the information required is supposedly known from memory by B, but A must type it VERY carefully. And if A has a dozen or so such payments, it takes a LOT of attention.

To give you an idea on how delicate these numbers are, once I had a Brazilian client who asked her husband to pay me via a local bank transfer. It was not a small sum. She copied the locally-required info (just name, CPF, bank number instead of name, branch #, and account #) on a piece of paper and gave him. The husband did it online. As we later discovered, he typed everything correctly BUT the checksum in my account number; insted of 6 he typed a 5. The transaction should have been processed overnight, but the money vanished between our respective banks for 3 days, until it reappeared in his account as "chargeback - payee's account not found".

Now try to imagine this 3-day troubleshooting with a PM on the other side of the globe. There would be no use in me calling Banco Rendimento to fix that up, as I was not the sender. I'm not allowed to alter anybody else's payment order, even when the mistake is that obvious (each CPF is unique in the whole country)

This is my point.


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Rush clients Dec 20, 2007

Guys, you are so right about the rush clients - in a ridiculous rush for the job and slow to pay. Sometimes they don't even pay. My advice is not to do rush jobs unless it's for a client who's already established. And you'll find that your reputable, reliable agencies don't send jobs with unrealistic deadlines anyway - because they have an internal quality control process and understand what it takes for a good translation. The only BB agency that never paid me was a same day rush client who was breathing down my neck over the phone and obviously sending the document straight on to the client without proofreading or revising. Then I got a payment runaround and decided to drop it (too much hassle) and to just accept it as a life lesson. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

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smiles  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 01:55
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
Can he really make that cheating? Jan 6, 2008

MariusV wrote:

Just for your personal "evaluation" (just asked that person about the situation and about the payment):

Hi Hero,

Are you threateting me?
I hope you will tell me the same, face to face, on my next visit to Lithuania, or you might want to meet one of my friends, to explain you problems.
Send me invoice, for job offer already done, I will pay only because I am honest and very reputable businessman, as far as you translation, I can place really BAD advertisement on you side, because I think it's
not PRO at all, and the prices are horrible.

See you later smart ass


P.S. Could be funny if it was not really sad Hope they will not shoot me))



[Edited at 2007-12-19 20:19]


Sorry Marius to hear that,
But what happens after that, have you been paid?
I am in a similar situation with WU and every other information confirmed but not yet the money.
I have checked on WU FAQ:

" Can I cancel a cash payment transaction after sending it from a Western Union Agent location?

Once a cash payment transaction has been completed at a Western Union Agent location, there are no refunds or cancellations. If a consumer wants to return goods purchased, they will need to follow the return policy and work with the company from which the goods were originally purchased."

But now I am not sure,
And it is weekend, cannot wait until dawn


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