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Off topic: Possible scam?
Thread poster: Rafa Lombardino

Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 08:43
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Apr 4, 2007

First of all, I posted this as "off topic" because I didn't find a suitable subject. Maybe it's time we added something like "Alerts" or "Possible Scams" to the list of subjects...

Anyway, I've been directly contacted by an agency through a translators website. They sent me two emails, one to each of my addresses. Both messages are an introduction about the company and their expertise (translation of manuals). After introducting themselves, they ask me to contact them if I'm interested and then send them a copy of my resume and a scanned copy of my passport or ID.

This company claims to be based in Europe... Is this a normal practice, I mean, to ask candidates to send them a scanned copy of their passports? If they want to choose new translators by the way they look or what their nationality is, why not just ask where we're from and require a picture attached to the resume?

I may be acting over cautiously here, but I won't reply to their message. Besides, the website URL they gave me doesn't work. Of course it could be due to a server problem or something, but somehow I smell something fishy...

Let me know what you think.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:43
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Run the URL through the Wayback Machine Apr 4, 2007

http://www.archive.org/web/web.php

... before you start suspecting. Just a tip.



PS: I certainly don't have ID problems in Europe, but that may also be because I publish my VAT number (can be checked in VIES).


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 08:43
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
:-) Apr 4, 2007

Thank you for the tip, Parrot. I didn't know the WayBack Machine.

I'm not from an European country, so I don't have a VAT. I just think it's strange that a company would demand freelancers to give them a scanned copy of their passports...

Anyway, I'll wait to hear more from them.

Thanks!


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Gabrielle Bannard  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:43
French to English
Better safe than sorry Apr 4, 2007

Everything I've ever read about protecting your personal ID against any kind of fraud states that you certainly should not give more information than necessary to anyone you don't trust implicitly, particularly information that is known to be used in fraudulent activities (ie. passports, driver's licences, credit cards, bank accounts, etc.) You'd be amazed at what "scammers" can do with minimal information.

I can't imagine why they would need your passport or ID, and if they truly do, they should tell you why. That way, you can verify the reason (unless the reason is not verifiable, in which case...run!).


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:43
German to Italian
+ ...
strange Apr 4, 2007

Rafa Lombardino wrote:

I'm not from an European country, so I don't have a VAT. I just think it's strange that a company would demand freelancers to give them a scanned copy of their passports...



It seems strange to me as well. I was never asked to do so.


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:43
English to German
+ ...
We can only guess Apr 4, 2007

The only way to find out what they need it for would be to ask them.

If you are thinking about contacting them: Look for their website again, search google for the company name, check who owns the web address, try to gather info about them.

If you contact them ask them about more info about the company especially about what they have to offer. For you to be just another address in their freelancers' database, they do not need your passport or picture. If your resume is on the Web you can let them know where to find it.

I'd only give more detailed information after verification of their identity and if I receive a more detailed job offer and not just a description of the company. I'd rather not send a copy of my passport.

It could be that they simply wish to make sure you are a real person and not just somebody impersonating somebody else on the web. But then it could also be something else.


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 08:43
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Weird site Apr 4, 2007

I used the website Parrot recommended and could see the last updates to their site, which were done exactly one year ago... I really didn't like what I saw, because it's a pretty basic Front Page site. Nothing against Front Page sites, but if they claim to be a well-established translation agency one would think they could put more effort into building an attractive site...

Well, I'll keep their emails archived just in case, but I really think they were trying to fish for some personal info, not for some talent...

Thanks, everybody!


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 10:43
English to Russian
+ ...
I'd probably turn them to the authorities Apr 4, 2007

This is no joke.

Moreover, even with all the right information about outsourcer in place I would never, ever send something like this to any agency or even turn my head in their direction. BTW, the normal ones would never request (and never have so far) anything like that - they know it is simply illegal. Exceptions - government background checks and certain forms before going to their installations, and even then, for example, J7/DoD requests only a passport No, and their assignments are as real as it gets.


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Ulrike Lieder  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:43
English to German
+ ...
Received pretty much the same request from an agency based in China Apr 4, 2007

Rafa Lombardino wrote:


Anyway, I've been directly contacted by an agency through a translators website. They sent me two emails, one to each of my addresses. Both messages are an introduction about the company and their expertise (translation of manuals). After introducting themselves, they ask me to contact them if I'm interested and then send them a copy of my resume and a scanned copy of my passport or ID.


Let me know what you think. [/quote]

Perhaps this is getting to be some sort of trend among agencies these days? I recently received such a request from an agency based in China (don't recall their name, can't quite remember how they found me, but I think it was through my ProZ profile page).

What do I think about such a request? There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for an agency to have a scanned copy of my identification papers. I simply "round-filed" their inquiry.

In fact, re-reading just now your description of how the agency presented itself, that's the same way this Chinese agency introduced itself - saying that they specialize in the translation of manuals. It does seem somewhat suspicious, though, that an agency purportedly based in Europe and one based in China would both introduce themselves in this manner (and ask for a scanned copy of one's passport!) -- all the more reason not to comply with such a request. (I seem to have permanently deleted that inquiry - unfortunately - it would have been interesting to compare messages...)


[Edited at 2007-04-05 02:00]

[Edited at 2007-04-05 02:01]


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Ulrike Lieder  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:43
English to German
+ ...
This is the inquiry I received Apr 4, 2007

A lot of my e-mail gets routed through my Gmail account, and lo and behold, that mail was still sitting in the trash folder. It was sent by a Jason Young, and dated March 28, 2007. The country code given for the telephone numbers places this agency in China.

I no longer give out/list the e-mail address this was sent to, and I never used it for ProZ, so it is clear that the inquiry did not come via ProZ, and I can only surmise that Jason may have found me through one of the professional associations I belong to.



Here's pertinent parts of the text:

[Subject: A new letter of seeking translation partners]

Dear Ms/Sir,



Thank you for your interest in working with us in the area of translation. Welcome to join us!

Now, let me introduce this company. [We are] a professional translation institute, providing translation service in 28 languages.

We are fully experienced and specialized in translating gift box specifications and user manuals for electric appliances and electronic products. 90% of our orders are directly from Europe. Now, with the expansion of our business, we are looking for more and more translators and partners of high quality, who are native speakers of such European languages as French, German, Spanish, Dutch etc. (40 languages in total) and who are experienced and specialized in translating gift box specifications and user manuals for electric appliances and electronic products. For further information about us, please visit our website: [URL] [...].

If you are qualified and interested, please contact us by e-mail [...] and send us your resume and scanned copy of your passport or ID. For other terms and conditions, you can download from the above website.



Looking forward to hearing from you soon.





jason
2007-03-28



[Edited at 2007-04-05 19:12]


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 08:43
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Bingo! Apr 4, 2007

That's actually the exact same mail I got through both my Gmail accounts. I'm not sure if you got it directly, but to me it was sent through a translators website other than Proz (where I don't even have a paid membership, by the way).

Funny enough, I do work with a Chinese company that specializes in manuals and they're wonderful. In fact I've just received the first payment and everything went smoothly. They've never asked me for a copy of any ID, though.

I'll keep Jason's info in file, just in case...

[Edited at 2007-04-04 23:57]


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