Bad translator impersonates a good one
Thread poster: Oliver Walter

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:44
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Nov 13, 2013

(I think this post probably belongs in the "business issues" forum rather than "scams" because it was not an attempt to defraud me.)

I received an email today from a translation agency in Spain, asking for my phone number because, as it said, "It seems there is a real problem with the translation you delivered yesterday and that you told us you were fixing now."

I found the agency's landline phone number from its website, rang the number (Spain) and spoke to the person who had sent me the email.
Our conclusion about what happened is the following:
  1. A person, whom I shall call X, who is not a translator (or is perhaps an incompetent translator), sent to that agency a CV that was mainly a copy of my CV but giving an email address ending with "1970@gmail.com".
  2. The agency gave him (more likely "him" than "her"!) a translation job which was returned yesterday, with a translation of poor quality.
  3. The agency tried to contact X through the gmail address but received no reply.
  4. The agency then sent me an email through my ProZ profile (I recognised that it was through my profile because of the exact email address used, and the agency confirmed it on the telephone; since I am the owner of my domain name, I can use different email addresses for different purposes).
  5. Since it was clear to me from that email that there was some incorrect information involved, or an attempt to defraud, I found the agency's phone number and made the phone call.

My conclusions:
  1. A CV placed on the ProZ website for access through a member's profile should perhaps consist purely of graphics images (perhaps made from screen shots) to make it more difficult for a fraudster to copy and paste the contents into an impressive but untruthful CV of his own. Mine is a PDF file, does not include a phone number, and my email address in that CV is a graphics image, not extractable text.
  2. Translation agencies should perhaps have a procedure to be followed to ensure that a new translator is correctly identified and can be contacted both by email and by telephone.

I searched these forums for "impersonation" but didn't obtain a result. Have you had a similar experience, or can you offer better suggestions for what translators and agencies should do to reduce the risk of this occurring?
(My edits since the original posting were simply to make the meaning clearer, not change any information in this posting.)

Oliver

[Edited at 2013-11-14 10:51 GMT]


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Jessica Lucio  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:44
English to German
+ ...
:( Nov 13, 2013

Dear Oliver

I'm sorry to hear this has happened to you. When I read your post, this article came to my mind:

http://wantwords.co.uk/school/lesson-61-how-to-protect-your-translator-cv-from-scammers/

I hope you find it helpful.

Jessica


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:44
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Most likely this is, indeed, the outcome of a scam Nov 13, 2013

It looks like your CV has been used by the same scammers who are sending out the CVs discussed in http://www.proz.com/topic/259421

See also this very, very long thread about CVs being stolen: http://www.proz.com/topic/230462


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:44
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Modified CV Nov 13, 2013

Thank you, Jessica and Yolanda. My "web" CV was already of restricted content, compared to the one that I send to inquirers. I have now made an even more limited version and uploaded it (as a PDF file) to my PrioZ profile, and made it visible to logged-in users only.
I have also set the security of the PDF document to prevent printing, modification and text extraction.
Oliver

[Edited at 2013-11-13 17:54 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Look on the bright side... Nov 13, 2013

This person is a loser who can only make money by stealing from people who aren't losers. That's what I think every time I'm a victim of crime.

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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:44
Member (2005)
English to Japanese
+ ...
How broad-minded Nov 14, 2013

philgoddard wrote:

This person is a loser who can only make money by stealing from people who aren't losers. That's what I think every time I'm a victim of crime.


I'm surprised how broad-minded you are.
I wouldn't feel sorry for this kind of loser, since s/he are criminals who endanger your business career. I believe that these so-called losers have other legitimate opportunities to earn decent money, not by just impersonating and stealing other people's identities.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I think you may be misunderstanding the word "loser". Nov 14, 2013

It's an insult, and I don't feel sorry for them at all.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:44
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Lack of due diligence Nov 14, 2013

To me, this seems that this agency failed to do its due diligence. They merely assigned a job to someone who presented fake credentials, posing as someone else.

Some agencies think that due diligence is all about demanding references. Well, just as anyone can impersonate someone else's qualifications, what would prevent them into creating a few fake "clients" as well, who would provide raving reports on the impersonator's performance?

Other agencies think tests will do the trick. They fail to consider the possibility of a Cyrano-translator taking the test and passing it with flying colors, while the actual job later will be done done by the impersonator.

Impersonation is an ancient trick, brilliantly depicted in the half-century old memorable Brazilian soap opera Beto Rockfeller. The title itself gives an idea on what it's all about.

The agencies that fall for these tricks are often those who impersonally mass-handle their translators. Their system e-checks fake references, approves them after Cyrano-taken tests, gets signed NDAs on paper via snail-mail, and automatically assigns them actual jobs. When a translator has any special T&Cs for any reason, they say "We work with several hundred translators; it's either our way or the highway, your choice."

Their end-clients don't know it, but they are as lost in the woods as they would be if they decided to deal directly with translators, without these agencies.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Pathetic losers Nov 14, 2013

philgoddard wrote:

It's an insult, and I don't feel sorry for them at all.


I do kind of feel sorry for them, because they must be pretty desperate to go to such lengths. There but for the grace... etc.


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Texte Style
Local time: 02:44
French to English
grace? Nov 15, 2013

grace, Neilmac? where did talent and hard work get to?

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