Possible scam/money laundering - red flag request from client
Thread poster: Kristin Maverick

Kristin Maverick
United States
Local time: 08:44
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Jan 23, 2019

Hello!

I just received an email from a client with an e-check payment confirmation for almost 4x my fee. He has requested that once the money shows up in my bank account I should deduct my fees from the total and make cash deposits for other clients he has hired to do interpretation for a conference that I am supposedly translating his document to be presented at.

This was not discussed in advance and I am shocked he would just presume I would be OK with it. (p.s. I am
... See more
Hello!

I just received an email from a client with an e-check payment confirmation for almost 4x my fee. He has requested that once the money shows up in my bank account I should deduct my fees from the total and make cash deposits for other clients he has hired to do interpretation for a conference that I am supposedly translating his document to be presented at.

This was not discussed in advance and I am shocked he would just presume I would be OK with it. (p.s. I am NOT OK with it! I'm a professional translator, not a bank!)

I have never worked with the client before and have only had an extremely limited interaction with him via e-mail regarding the translation job. I can understand wanting to avoid multiple international wire fees (the billing address he gave me is Kansas but I don't know where he's actually wiring the money from), but without knowing the client personally, it feels totally fishy, and at the very least annoying/presumptuous, especially since he didn't communicate with me before actually making the payment!

Has anyone else experienced this before? Is it even legal to ask a contracted employee to make payments to other contractors on your behalf? Should I call my bank immediately or try to get more information from the client first? How do I respond to him? (Help!)

Thanks in advance!
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Joshua Parker
Mexico
Local time: 06:44
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Scam Jan 23, 2019

This has scam written all over it.
It's never happened to me personally, but I've heard lots of stories that start along these lines.
Do not cash the cheque.
Run for the hills, as fast as your little legs will take you.


Yolanda Broad
Kristin Maverick
Christophe Delaunay
Vadim Kadyrov
Philippe Etienne
Teresa Borges
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
English to French
+ ...
well known scam Jan 23, 2019

This is a well-known scam attempt.

Kristin Maverick
Vadim Kadyrov
Philippe Etienne
Teresa Borges
Katalin Horváth McClure
 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
So what next? Jan 23, 2019

So what should she do when/if the money (4x invoiced amount) arrives in her account? Or should we presume it will never arrive!?

Kristin Maverick
 

Joel Pina Diaz  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:44
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
SCAM Jan 23, 2019

New accounts make the check a valid document with funds at the beginning (15 to 30 days). If check goes thru and you get any money keep it for minimum 60 days. That will cover you if the scammer close the account. If you do not receive any money DO NOT PAY DO NOTHING but start your legal procedures.

Kristin Maverick
 

Kristin Maverick
United States
Local time: 08:44
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Next steps Jan 23, 2019

So I called my bank and they confirmed it is definitely a scam. The money may or may not arrive, but either way this seems to be a well known way to compromise people's accounts.

My bank has flagged my account and suggested I open a new checking account and move most of my money there for now, just leaving enough for any automatic payments over the next couple of days - if any, and not to spend any of the money if it does happen to appear as deposited. I have also alerted the credit
... See more
So I called my bank and they confirmed it is definitely a scam. The money may or may not arrive, but either way this seems to be a well known way to compromise people's accounts.

My bank has flagged my account and suggested I open a new checking account and move most of my money there for now, just leaving enough for any automatic payments over the next couple of days - if any, and not to spend any of the money if it does happen to appear as deposited. I have also alerted the credit agencies in case this guy tries to open a line of credit, set up a direct deposit, or do who knows what else with my info, and I filed a police report as well (technically no crime has been committed yet, but they are still opening up a case).

The best part is that I actually called my bank yesterday before sharing the requested account information to ask if it was safe to share my routing and account number with a stranger, and they told me 'yes, it's completely safe'. When I pointed that out today the woman amended it to say 'it's absolutely safe, as long as the stranger is not a criminal'... no comments on that one.

I haven't tipped him off yet, so hopefully he will be caught!

Thanks to everyone for your input and be sure to stay safe out there in this wild world of professional translation!

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:

So what should she do when/if the money (4x invoiced amount) arrives in her account? Or should we presume it will never arrive!?
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
Refuse it (politely, if you want to) Jan 24, 2019

Kristin Maverick wrote:
1. Is it even legal to ask a contracted employee to make payments to other contractors on your behalf?
2. How do I respond to him?


1. Whether it is legal depends on your own jurisdiction's laws, but where I'm from, it is not illegal specifically not to pay money directly into the final recipient's account or to agree to pass on money to other people. However, it may be illegal if it's part of fraud or a money laundering operation. Therefore I would not accept this type of request from anyone but my closest associates.

2. Just say no, firmly but politely. Even if he isn't a scammer, a lot of things can go wrong, and even if you're not legally liable for some of those things that can go wrong, sorting out the problems may be time-consuming for you. For example, if one of the interpreters claim not to have received the money, or if one of the interpreters claim to have received too little or too much, or if you confuse two interpreters and overpay one and underpay the other...

Kristin Maverick wrote:
So I called my bank and they confirmed it is definitely a scam.


It definitely looks like a scam, but there is no way your bank can know (at this stage) that it is definitely a scam. The bank doesn't have enough information at this stage to make such a pronouncement. Could it be that the bank employee was simply trying to be reassuring when he said that?

The money may or may not arrive, but either way this seems to be a well known way to compromise people's accounts.


I don't see how overpayment can lead to account compromise.

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:
So what should she do when/if the money (4x invoiced amount) arrives in her account? Or should we presume it will never arrive!?


Well, it's an e-cheque, so AFAIK the money won't ever arrive if she does not cash the cheque. If she simply ignores it (and if her bank does not automatically process e-cheques without asking the account holder), no money should ever arrive.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Joel Jan 24, 2019

Joel Pina Diaz wrote:
New accounts make the check a valid document with funds at the beginning (15 to 30 days). If check goes thru and you get any money keep it for minimum 60 days. That will cover you if the scammer close the account.


I have read your post several times (particularly the first sentence) but I don't know what you mean.


B D Finch
 

Rudolf Vedo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:44
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Scam, obviously, but your info is pretty safe Jan 24, 2019

Of course this has scam written all over it, but opening another account and moving your money to it was probably overkill - the routing number of any US bank is easily found online and your account number is available to anyone you've sent a check to or made an online payment to from your bank account. All the scammer can do is send you money. Well, there are a few outlandish scenarios where he or she can do more, but those would require compromising your online banking credentials including tw... See more
Of course this has scam written all over it, but opening another account and moving your money to it was probably overkill - the routing number of any US bank is easily found online and your account number is available to anyone you've sent a check to or made an online payment to from your bank account. All the scammer can do is send you money. Well, there are a few outlandish scenarios where he or she can do more, but those would require compromising your online banking credentials including two-factor authentication, or stealing your entire identity and successfully impersonating you in person at your bank (which would only work if the staff there is astonishingly stupid and criminally negligent).

Was the scammer going to send the money to your bank account by PayPal? E-checks are PayPal instruments IIRC, but not unlike instant transfers take a few days to clear. Actual wire transfers are generally not reversible, though international bank drafts and cashier's checks of course are if discovered to be fraudulent.
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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Typical overpayment scam - Kristin, read this article Jan 25, 2019

http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Detecting_and_reacting_to_false_job_offers_and_other_scams

 


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