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Hard to tell errant SDL Trados invoice from phishing
Thread poster: Owen owenfw

Owen owenfw
Local time: 02:14
Finnish to English
+ ...
Jul 23, 2008

I received an email this morning purporting to be from SDL that looked for all the world like phishing. It had a PDF invoice attached for 249$ for "PSMA Level 2 Desktop - Support & Maintenance - 1 Year" and gave bank transfer details.

(If you look below, you'll see that it really did come from SDL...which didn't improve matters much)

--This is now a later edit to this post:--

An even worse thing about the original email I received, that I didn't really notice at first, is this line in the invoice:

Payment due 30 days net from 23-Jul-2008 to avoid deactivation of software/support & maintenance. Payment to be made by bank transfer, quoting the invoice number xxxxx


So, if you get this email and invoice, its *really* easy to think that it is TRADOS that is going to stop working, not just your maintenance agreement.

To head off any criticisms, yes, this is a misreading because later in the invoice it itemizes the support agreement, but I'd bet anything that this would scare the socks off of some poor translator somewhere, especially if their native language isn't English.

And of course if someone wired them the 249 thinking they were renewing their right to use Trados, the company would never know.

And what's the deal with a support agreement that costs more than 50% of what the software costs?



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-07-23 19:09]

[Edited at 2008-07-23 21:09]

[Edited at 2008-07-23 21:19]


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 10:14
German
+ ...
No phishing Jul 23, 2008

Owen Witesman wrote:

I received an email this morning purporting to be from SDL that is obviously phishing. It had a PDF invoice attached for 249$ for "PSMA Level 2 Desktop - Support & Maintenance - 1 Year" and gave bank transfer details.


Of course it's not a phishing attempt - seems you signed up for a support contract and forgot all about it, now wondering why you're getting an invoice. Of course it is also possible that they've made a mistake and no such agreement exists between you and them, in which case you should contact them and point out their mistake.

[Edited at 2008-07-23 19:01]


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Owen owenfw
Local time: 02:14
Finnish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Really from SDL? Jul 23, 2008

You may be right, this may actually be from SDL. That doesn't change the fact that it is an unsolicited offer couched as something I have already agreed to purchase, which is the same thing as phishing. So, instead of making me an offer to renew the free support contract I received free when I bought Trados, they are just billing me as if I had already accepted this offer.

And, I never paid them by wire transfer, which the invoice instructs me to do. I paid them by credit card originally. So for all I know, this money could be going to Al Qaeda or your grandmother.

Bad form SDL.

[Edited at 2008-07-23 15:33]

[Edited at 2008-07-23 15:34]


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 10:14
German
+ ...
The question is... Jul 23, 2008

...Why are you posting this here instead of trying to resolve the underlying issue with SDL first? If the document says "invoice", it is NOT an offer and if, as you say, you never agreed to an extension of the support period, you should tell them so immediately. If you don't, your silence might be construed as tacit agreement and entitle them to demand payment.

Feel free to report back here once you've done that.


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Owen owenfw
Local time: 02:14
Finnish to English
+ ...
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I have Jul 23, 2008

I have sent them an email. Hopefully everyone else who receives this false renewal email will understand that they haven't actually agreed to anything.

[Edited at 2008-07-23 14:37]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:14
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Contact SDL! Jul 23, 2008

Owen Witesman wrote:
I have sent them an email....
[Edited at 2008-07-23 13:44]


That's good that you are contacting SDL regarding this matter. Publishing their response (or lack thereof) subsequently might be very, very interesting. At the very least informing the company that you have not ordered its support "service" would protect you against any mis-guided attempts at collection. If SDL knows nothing about this mailer (or the bank account is for someone else!) then we have a major issue which may be the subject of prosecution.

[Edited at 2008-07-23 14:44]

[Edited at 2008-07-23 15:25]

[Edited at 2008-07-23 15:26]


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Owen owenfw
Local time: 02:14
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I didn't accuse SDL of anything. Jul 23, 2008

I originally posted a worry about phishing. I said that the email "purported" to be from SDL. I have contacted them. There was nothing about the email that couldn't have come from a third party. What is so wrong about me posting this here?

If it did come from SDL, which I now think it did, it was totally unprofessional on their part.

[Edited at 2008-07-23 14:22]

[Edited at 2008-07-23 14:39]


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 10:14
German
+ ...
Controversy vs. grown-up discussion Jul 23, 2008

Owen,
When you originally started this topic it looked like you were accusing a respected business of committing a felony, on a public Internet forum.

Settle your differences with them, voice your opinion here, but don't make wild accusations, please.

To my best of knowledge, it is illegal to send offers disguised as invoices *) and only very shady companies do that anyway. AFAIK, the line is drawn at the word "invoice" - if that's on the form, it is fraud.

This topic has thankfully been cleaned up, so I'd still be interested to learn about SDL's reaction.

Thanks,
Benjamin

*) at least here in Germany - is it different in the U.S.? I thought your consumer protection laws are even more stringent, not less...?

[Edited at 2008-07-24 09:59]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:14
Member (2003)
German to English
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Purporting Jul 23, 2008


... accusing a respected business of committing a felony, on a public Internet forum....


Technically he didn't. The mail purported (behauptete) to be from SDL in the same way perhaps that many of the mails from PayPal and eBay that I see in my inbox claim to be from those companies but probably are not.

In any case, the whole matter will be a lot more interesting after contact is made with SDL. It could be phishing by a third party, it could be a screwup on SDL's part or it could be unscrupulous "marketing tactics". There is really no way of knowing from the information provided. Contacting the company and/or the bank involved (I would notify the bank in case of fraud) could help clarify this and, as you pointed out, be an appropriate first step.



[Edited at 2008-07-23 14:47]


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 03:14
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Spanish
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Please, keep us posted Jul 23, 2008

I receive several "invoices" a month for magazines, book club subscriptions, credit card insurance, etc. Of course they're not really invoices and they're never requested. So it's a common practice carried by some companies. I really hope SDL is not using this kind of technique because, even though it's not illegal (I think), it's not ethical nor smart, it's a very stupid way of trying to milk current clients.

On the other hand, if it wasn't from SDL, it means that we translators are being targeted by criminals. This is obviously not a generic scam.

Please keep us posted.

PS. Both the name calling and troll calling are unnecessary.


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Owen owenfw
Local time: 02:14
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Phishing vigilance Jul 23, 2008

I think I'm a little hyper-sensitive about phishing because I get so much of it from translation-related things.

I've gotten the Nigerian money laundering thing through an interpreting job offer, to the point that they actually sent me a bogus check...I was suspicious all along, but the Nigerian postmark clinched it.

And then I get emails all the time from people saying they are translators (usually for EU languages into English) as if I were an agency they were applying to. For those I know where the email address has been harvested because I submit customized email addresses whenever I think that the agency/board/association or whatever actually might be stupid about providing lists of translators email addresses for the world to see. I haven't quite figured out what the angle is on these ones because they are so easy to spot (the languages never jive with the languages I work in) that I've never been fooled into replying to any of them.

I can see how it would be really easy for a beginning translator to get scammed seeing as how we never have physical contact with our clients/employers and rarely even use the phone.

I'll definitely post SDL's reply if I get one.

[Edited at 2008-07-23 15:36]


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Owen owenfw
Local time: 02:14
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Mystery solved Jul 23, 2008

I did just get an email back from SDL. Here is the important part:

The invoice you received was for an automatic renewal. As stated in the contract we should be informed not less than 60 days of the expiry date if you do not wish to renew your contract otherwise an automatic renewal will be generated. As we did not receive a written confirmation your contract was automatically renewed.


So, in effect, if they happened to tack on a service contract when you purchased Trados, they're going to try to bill you for this continued support service. I did look back at my original Trados invoice, and there was a separate line item for this support thingy (for no charge), but nowhere can I find an indication that it would renew automatically. I'm sure it's in the fine print somewhere...I have no idea what contract the email quote above refers to.

So, not phishing, just sneaky marketing.


[Edited at 2008-07-23 15:45]


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Owen owenfw
Local time: 02:14
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TOPIC STARTER
And a follow-up Jul 23, 2008

After replying to the response from SDL described above with a "I never wanted this please cancel it immediately", I did get a second response quite quickly apologizing for the "mixup".

Having looked into your account I have indeed noticed that you were given free Support and Maintennace last year. Unfortunatley you were automatically invoiced in error, for which we would like to offer you our sincere apologies and tell you the invoice will be cancelled.


This says to me that other people have gotten or will get similar notices.

They also tried to call me, because apparently having stuff like this posted on Proz isn't something they particularly like.

If you get a notice like this and need to figure out who at SDL to talk to, please email me and I'll give you the proper email address.

They also offered me another month of free support in compensation for the irritation. Since Proz is a better way to get support for Trados, I declined and asked that instead they add an "Open previous segment" macro like Wordfast has! I know, I'm a dreamer.

Oh, I forgot one other thing: can you believe that the subject of the original email I received was "The invoice you requested"? Doesn't that sound like it's lifted straight from the Phishing 101 textbook?



[Edited at 2008-07-23 18:04]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:14
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
It would be interesting to know exactly where this is documented Jul 23, 2008

Owen Witesman wrote:

I did look back at my original Trados invoice, and there was a separate line item for this support thingy (for no charge), but nowhere can I find an indication that it would renew automatically. I'm sure it's in the fine print somewhere...I have no idea what contract the email quote above refers to.

So, not phishing, just sneaky marketing.


[Edited at 2008-07-23 15:45]



Hm. Very interesting. How about pressing them to point out exactly where this is written? I don't particularly approve of these "opt-out" contracts for free trials - I had major trouble once with a magazine subscription I never wanted where I was stupid enough to allow the obnoxious sales rep to send me a "sample" copy. I never did read a single word of that trash.

It's sad to see that SDL is subject to mix-ups of this sort, but I'm not terribly surprised. At least it got worked out in your case. This kind of marketing is trouble waiting to happen.


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Owen owenfw
Local time: 02:14
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Will do Jul 23, 2008

I've sent them and email and will post a link here when/if they respond.

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