New ‘search by email’ tool for corporate members to prevent impersonating scams
Thread poster: Enrique Cavalitto

Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 14:19
SITE STAFF
Jan 20, 2016

Dear members,

Scammers impersonating clients in order to steal translations from service providers have been around for a long time, but in the last few years there have been many reports of scammers impersonating translators to scam translation companies.

To do so, the scammers copy real translators' CV information, including their names and pictures, but using a different email address (usually in the form of {translator's_name}@{free_email_service_provider}.

These fake email addresses and CVs are then used to quote on jobs posted at ProZ.com as well as in other translation portals that enable translators to contact outsourcers via email (ProZ.com jobs that require contact through the platform are safer, since the translator needs to do so from their actual profiles).

Several translation agencies also report receiving unsolicited applications from these scammers (in many cases from Palestinian IP addresses).

Any translation job assigned to the impersonating scammers is then made with MT and the companies are requested full payment or else face expensive litigation. In another scenario the jobs are outsourced to real translators, who are never paid for the project.

As always, the best tool against scammers is verifying the identity of the person who contacts you with a business proposition, but it is simpler to verify the identity of a corporate client (because of their published corporate information) than it is for clients to verify translators (especially when the email address can be false).

A good tool here is contacting the translators by means of the ‘send email’ feature in their ProZ.com profiles. A generic tool for finding profiles by username OR first and last name is provided, but sometimes the translators opt for not publishing their names and the verification will fail.

A new tool has now been deployed, exclusive for ProZ.com corporate members, that will enable them to enter the known email addresses (received, for instance, in an application page) and to search for the corresponding ProZ.com profile.

ProZ.com has strong privacy policy that protects email addresses, and three safeguards have been introduced in this case:

  • No email is provided, only players who already know your email address can use it to find your ProZ.com profile.

  • By making the tool exclusive for corporate members, it is highly unlikely that the association of email address and profile will be performed by scammers or other kind of dishonest players.

  • Users who don't wish to be found this way can disallow being found by email address. A simple click in the link provided on the search page will lead to their profiles and deselect the ‘Let others find me by email’ check box.


This tool should contribute to protect ProZ.com corporate members from this kind of scam, and also the reputation of impersonated service providers in relationships involving corporate members.

You can learn about scams at the ProZ.com scam alert center. Also, if you are a ProZ.com member, you can subscribe to the notifications on current scams.

As always, comments and suggestions are very welcome.

Regards,
Enrique Cavalitto


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Ward Whittaker  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:19
Portuguese to English
No use at all for translators Jan 22, 2016

This helps the corporate members but does nothing to help we translators identify scammers impersonating agencies. We need the same type of tool but the other way around. Why does it seem to me once again the the help in this issues is aimed at corporate members and not the translators, after all, it is the translators that pay membership fees.

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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 14:19
SITE STAFF
TOPIC STARTER
Scammers impersonating agencies are simpler to spot Jan 22, 2016

Ward Whittaker wrote:

This helps the corporate members but does nothing to help we translators identify scammers impersonating agencies. We need the same type of tool but the other way around.


Hi Ward,

Identifying scammers that impersonate agencies is not that difficult, as any serious agency has a solid web page and a large Google footprint. You can locate the web page and Google the company name, evaluate the results, then look for the contact-me information and compare it with the email you received. You can even contact the company (using the contact-me information) and ask for a validation of the data of the person who contacted you.

When a translator is impersonated, on the other hand, the validation is much more difficult. Freelancers are not expected to have a strong institutional web presence and their emails are usually not available. An alleged company should not contact you using a free email such as Gmail or Hotmail, but this is OK for a freelancer. ProZ.com knows the email address of translators but, because of our privacy policy, will not deliver this information to any asker.

The tool implemented should provide a solution for some of the situations and it is a trade-off between privacy and protection against frauds. Corporate members can validate email addresses and identify the simple cases of impersonation (that do not involve stealing someone's email address but provide a false substitute address instead). By restricting this to corporate members and by providing an opt-out mechanism, privacy concerns are addressed.

This is good for translators as well. If you look at the scams forum you will see that many translators are concerned about their good name being used by scammers for their illicit activities. This tool should avoid some of the damage inflicted by scammers.

Regards,
Enrique


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 14:19
SITE STAFF
TOPIC STARTER
Two modifications introduced to prevent false negatives Jan 29, 2016

Dear members,

A colleague contacted us, concerned about the issue of false negatives: Freelancers may use different email addresses, and if a corporate member entered a valid address that was not the main address in the ProZ.com profile, a negative result would arise that would be perceived as a risk by the outsourcer.

To address this valid concern, two modifications were implemented on this feature:

  • The primary and the secondary addresses in your ProZ.com profiles will now be searched, so if you use a separate address for communications with outsourcers, you can add it as a secondary email in your ProZ.com profile and still be validated by the 'search by email' tool.

  • The following disclaimer was added to the 'search by email' page: "Also note that translators can contact outsourcers using an email address different from the ones included in their ProZ.com profiles, so a profile found should make you feel confident but a negative result does not necessarily mean that you are in the presence of a scam attempt. "


Regards,
Enrique


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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What is the primary intention of the secondary email address? Feb 1, 2016

Enrique Cavalitto wrote:
The primary and the secondary addresses in your ProZ.com profiles will now be searched, so if you use a separate address for communications with outsourcers, you can add it as a secondary email in your ProZ.com profile and still be validated by the 'search by email' tool.

I deliberately chose a secondary email address that is not linked at all to my primary one, so that technical problems with the primary one are unlikely to affect the secondary one too. It's actually a personal email address. In actual fact, my primary address here is somewhat outdated, but linked closely to the newer one that most of my current and future clients will have for me.

Would it be possible to input more than one secondary email?

Or have I misinterpreted the use of the secondary email address, and should perhaps change it to my other professional one?


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 14:19
SITE STAFF
TOPIC STARTER
A suggested solution Feb 1, 2016

Hi Sheila,

Your secondary email address is used to contact you if your primary address fails. If mail sent to your primary email address is returned by your mail provider, your primary address will be replaced with your secondary address, and your primary email will be disabled.

If the address you use to contact outsourcers is different from the one you use as primary email address in your ProZ.com profile, it could be a good idea to use this "for outsourcers" address as secondary in your profile. This way, corporate members will be able to validate this address as belonging to you, while preserving it for its intended use.

Kind regards,
Enrique


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The two are rather at odds, IMHO Feb 3, 2016

Enrique Cavalitto wrote:
Your secondary email address is used to contact you if your primary address fails. If mail sent to your primary email address is returned by your mail provider, your primary address will be replaced with your secondary address, and your primary email will be disabled.

That's what I assumed. It's why I chose one that is totally separate from my professional one. There's virtually no way in the world that the two will fail at the same time (or if they did, nobody would care as everything would have failed).
If the address you use to contact outsourcers is different from the one you use as primary email address in your ProZ.com profile, it could be a good idea to use this "for outsourcers" address as secondary in your profile. This way, corporate members will be able to validate this address as belonging to you, while preserving it for its intended use.

But as it's a second professional address, it's closely linked to the first to ensure that I deal with both all the time. They are both gmail addresses, for a start. In fact, by the time they get to my inbox, they are in one stream, though identifiable.

It therefore seems as though you're now trying to use the secondary email address for two different, and conflicting, purposes.


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New ‘search by email’ tool for corporate members to prevent impersonating scams

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