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Proz - j'accuse!
Thread poster: Helen Shiner

Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:31
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Jun 29, 2010

I was recently contacted by an agency with whom I had had no dealing whatsoever prior to that saying that they would like me to undertake the job I "had applied for" through the Proz jobs system. The PM noted, however, that in searching for my phone number to discuss details of the job, she had discovered that the CV she had received from 'me' had another name and e-mail address on it.

The PM sent me the CV at my request and it was unsurprisingly exactly the version of my CV which I had appended to my Proz profile. Needless to say, someone else had copied it and was using it to gain work.

My immediate reaction was to send details of this occurrence to Proz in the form of a support ticket. I was told by a member of Proz staff that no-one with the name and e-mail address added to the CV was active on Proz and there was nothing they could do. Having pressed the matter, I was told they would look into it and see what could be done.

I have waited for some days for a response and having chased it up this evening, I am told that Proz will not discuss an administrative action with a "third party". They refuse to give me any details about what has been done.

I am not particularly interested in who did this. I do think though that I have every right to know how many times this was done with my CV and which agencies have been approached with it by this individual.

When I first contacted Proz about it, I suggested that they should stop 'encouraging' people to append their CVs to their profiles and, in the event that they wished to continue to provide us with the option to do so, should alert us to such an eventuality. Nothing has been done and they continue to 'encourage' its posting (one gains points out of 10 for doing so!)

I realise that anything in the public domain can be copied fraudulently by anyone. I do think though that encouragment by Proz comes with responsibilities on their side. And I certainly think my fellow Proz members and non-members should be alerted to it.

I am considering how to take this further. If anyone has any suggestions - of a legal nature - I would love to hear your views.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Anyone could do it Jun 29, 2010

As it didn't have your name on it, nobody impersonated you. They just copied what you did professionally. It is tantamount to have me saying "I invented the PC, and the Internet as well". In other words, a bunch of lies.

Now envision this... once (actually twice - two different companies) I was a human resources manager. On one day I received 365 CVs (the all-time record) applying for a Marketing Manager position we had advertised on the country's leading newspaper. What would prevent me from building a pot-pourri from all these CVs to make my own, and apply for a marketing job with it? Would any of these 365 people have the right to sue me for lying?

The problem is in the applicant proving that they did anything they mention there. Paper - or the monitor screen - will accept anything; it's up to the hiring party to check if it's true. Anyone naively believing everything they read on a CV deserves what they'll get from that person. Of course, it's likely to be true, but then the perp must live up to their client's expectations.


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:31
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Academic CV Jun 29, 2010

Hi José, thanks for your comments and for taking the time to reply. If it had just been a typical translator's CV with a list of projects translated, that might be the case. Yes, the person concerned would have had to prove themselves had they got the job - and one must presume, have failed - since they had built up no track record of their own to use. However, in my case this was an academic CV - I primarily translate for academics and have my own academic training as an art historian. So this person was claiming ownership of my PhD, MA, academic publications, academic grants and prizes, etc. In my field this is tantamount to impersonation and could do me personal damage. The PM in question traced me via one of my publications, in fact.

Since it is this academic profile that gets me work in my specialised field, I was happy to append my CV to my Proz profile, but I am more shocked at Proz's cavalier attitude, than at the now obvious possibility that some low-life would attempt to get as it turns out inappropriate work based on my hard-won achievements.

I think it highly unlikely, as you yourself indicate, that a PM would have time normally to check the veracity of a CV or personal statement, so I am not sure about the best way of dealing with this. I do though think Proz should not be encouraging us to add CVs to our profiles in such a public way without some sort of caveat. Perhaps they could be made accessible only to outsourcers or job posters in some way. I'm sure having to apply to a vendor for them specifically is a step too far, and something for which most busy PMs/direct clients have little time. I leave that up to the techies amongst us.

I just wanted to warn others that this was being done, so they could make informed decisions themselves about what to do.

[Edited at 2010-06-29 22:04 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-06-29 22:04 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-06-29 22:05 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Not worth the aggravation, Helen Jun 29, 2010

If it were a dispute over who did a certain job, okay, that's arguable. My longest-standing client, 23 years already, is a world class video-for-dubbing translator himself, but he's got his company to run, while I don't. That's how I got into the picture back then. Sometimes he's looking for an old script, and calls me asking if I translated a specific one from his videos, or if he did it himself. So many hundred films later, neither of us remembers.

However you say it's the case of PhD, MA, and maybe other titles. Of course I could counterfeit a perfect diploma with PageMaker and a few stationery supplies, but it would be a fake. The school itself wouldn't confirm it. And I certainly wouldn't be able to do anything someone holding such titles is expected to do. So whoever hires them for such titles is perfectly entitled to sue that person for misrepresentation, lost profits/clients and moral damages from unacceptable services provided, and so on.

It's not your problem. Though you may feel outraged, cool down. Let this impersonator meet their fate by their own means.


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:31
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not outraged, José Jun 29, 2010

I just wonder at Proz's attitude in this regard. I am sick and tired of plagiarism in all its forms, but do expect this person and others like them will ultimately hoist themselves by their own petards. That said, I have seen all too much professional damage caused by theft of intellectual property, so I wouldn't dismiss it quite as lightly as you.

My key aim in posting about this was to inform people about yet another form of scam. I hope by doing so, I have saved someone else from similar problems.


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
What a bizarre example of identity theft! Jun 30, 2010

I think ProZ should tell you who it was and what happened. It's a basic issue of accountability - if you reported a crime to the police, they wouldn't say "We've dealt with it, but you'll just have to take our word for it".

Although you should be flattered that they chose you as their victim...

[Edited at 2010-06-30 00:40 GMT]


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:31
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thread hidden Jun 30, 2010

Hi Phil

Along with other organisations Proz does have a responsibility to protect its users' data. I agree I should be told. I am sure if I take things further, they will be forced to provide me with the information anyway. Their administrative action seems to be about protecting themselves here, as does the fact that they have removed this thread from general view (without informing me, it has to be said).

Really not impressed, Proz.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Post removed Jun 30, 2010

I removed my own post.

[Edited at 2010-06-30 07:28 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some comments Jun 30, 2010

Helen Shiner wrote:
My immediate reaction was to send details of this occurrence to Proz in the form of a support ticket. I was told by a member of Proz staff that no-one with the name and e-mail address added to the CV was active on Proz and there was nothing they could do.


I agree with their reaction. ProZ.com is visited by millions of non-members every day who have full access to members' profile pages and who can download the CVs of members.

The CVs (and the copyright of the CVs) are not owned by ProZ.com. Have you considered the possibility that ProZ.com may have no legal right or a legal leg to stand on to pursue cases of copyright breach in which not their own content but that of their clients (i.e. members) are concerned?

You say that ProZ.com does not take plagiarism seriously, but what do you think should ProZ.com have done to show that they do take plagiarism seriously? ProZ.com can't protect the individual texts of their individual members againsts individual instances of plagiarism, surely.

I have waited for some days for a response and having chased it up this evening, I am told that Proz will not discuss an administrative action with a "third party". They refuse to give me any details about what has been done.


If they did indeed take up the matter with the plagiarist, it would mean that they have assumed for the time being that this truly is a matter between themselves and the plagiarist... and that would mean that you are a third party.

I do think though that I have every right to know how many times this was done with my CV and which agencies have been approached with it by this individual.


Sure, but that has nothing to do with ProZ.com. ProZ.com did not specifically provide your details to this indivual nor did they (somehow) keep track of which agencies he sent the plagiarised CV to.

When I first contacted Proz about it, I suggested that they should stop 'encouraging' people to append their CVs to their profiles and, in the event that they wished to continue to provide us with the option to do so, should alert us to such an eventuality.


Did you post it as a suggestion to the suggestions forum? If you do that, then other members can voice their support for it. I for one would have quite a bit to say about it (but I won't say it here because this is not the place).

The suggestions forum is here: http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom_suggestions-13.html

I am considering how to take this further. If anyone has any suggestions - of a legal nature - I would love to hear your views.


The fact that you're considering legal action tells me that you believe ProZ.com to have some kind of liability in this case. From what you wrote, I gather that you believe ProZ.com was negligent when it did not warn members of the possibility that the CVs which they hope clients would download for honest purposes could also be downloaded by non-clients for dishonest purposes. Now tell me... do you truly believe such a warning is necessasry?



[Edited at 2010-06-30 07:29 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Is this how it works in the United States? Jun 30, 2010

philgoddard wrote:
It's a basic issue of accountability - if you reported a crime to the police, they wouldn't say "We've dealt with it, but you'll just have to take our word for it".


Really? Do the police tell those who report the crimes who the suspects are and what the suspects have told the police? If you walk past a house that appears to be in the process of being burgled, and you call the police, do the police in your country call you later that week to tell you who they arrested?

But I think the analogy with the police isn't quite applicable here, because the police are a governmental entity, and members of the public legally have certain rights to information if they request it. ProZ.com is a private party, and if they have investigated something that was reported by someone, then they have no obligation to reveal the results or progress of their investigation, and some people (including the party who is under investigation) may even see it as breach of privacy if they do.



[Edited at 2010-06-30 07:38 GMT]


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:31
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Wow, what a tone! Jun 30, 2010

Well, Samuel, I am not sure who appointed you as Proz champion, but I find your aggressive tone very off-putting. You have also chosen to put a heavily negative spin on my comments.

In response, I have not asked for, nor would I want to know, every little detail of what Proz does "that has remotely anything to do with me", as your post suggests. I merely wanted to be informed THAT they had acted at all and in what way in THIS SPECIFIC case. I take identity theft, impersonation and plagiarism very seriously. The Data Protection Act may or may not cover such a case, but please bear in mind that Proz are actively encouraging members and non-members to append their CVs to their profiles. As I have said I wished by posting to let my colleagues know of my experiences so that they themselves could make informed choices in their own right, when they, like me, may not have been aware of the consequences.

Actually I do not say that Proz does not take plagiarism seriously, as you claim. I don't know where you got that one from.

I do believe I have a right to know what was done with my CV and since only Proz have the information about the identity of the impersonator, I would have to get that information from them.

As I have made clear, I made my suggestion that Proz might warn people about the consequences of appending their CVs directly to the Proz member of staff who was dealing with this issue, as was appropriate in this case.

I have not said anywhere that I will be taking legal action. I did ask for suggestions of a legal nature, which means suggestions which were not illegal! I am surprised you found this ambiguous but then perhaps you don't share my dry British sense of humour.


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:31
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
serious opinions for a serious subject Jun 30, 2010

Helen Shiner wrote:

Well, Samuel, I am not sure who appointed you as Proz champion, but I find your aggressive tone very off-putting. You have also chosen to put a heavily negative spin on my comments.


I think you have brought up a very serious subject, Helen, and Samuel is answering in a similarly serious way. Not aggressive, just plain English.
Not sure what you mean by him being a Proz champion, but Samuel is a very valuable, respected member of this community, IMO.


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:31
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@ Emma Jun 30, 2010

I think you will find that Samuel has deleted the offending post.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Aggressive? Sorry... Jun 30, 2010

Helen Shiner wrote:
Well, Samuel, I am not sure who appointed you as Proz champion, but I find your aggressive tone very off-putting.


I apologise if I seemed aggressive. I aimed for factual and speculative, not aggressive. I have nothing against you personally, and I'm not "ProZ.com's chapion" either, so there is nothing for me to be aggressive about.

You have also chosen to put a heavily negative spin on my comments.


I thought my spin was fairly neutral, but I apologise if you see the spin as heavily negative.

I merely wanted to be informed THAT they had acted at all and in what way in THIS SPECIFIC case.


Suppose, hypothetically speaking, you got a response from them that said "We discussed your reported plagiarism at a meeting on Tuesday and, after having looked at the information to our disposal, we decided that it would be too expensive to pursue the plagiarist, and therefore we have decided not to do anything else about it". Would that response have made you happier than the response "We have a policy not to discuss these matters with third parties"?

I'm not being sarcastic here -- I'm quite serious. You're asking for news about what they did, but what it what they did was less than you had hoped that they would do?

Please bear in mind that Proz are actively encouraging members and non-members to append their CVs to their profiles. ... I wished by posting to let my colleagues know of my experiences so that they themselves could make informed choices in their own right, when they, like me, may not have been aware of the consequences.


I'm sorry to hear that you were unaware that making your personal information known on a public web site might lead to such details being downloaded, copied and used by anyone for any purpose without your permission. I encourage you strongly to post a message about this to the ProZ.com suggestions forum.

Actually I do not say that Proz does not take plagiarism seriously, as you claim. I don't know where you got that one from.


I apologise if your initial post lead me to this wrong conclusion. I gathered that you were annoyed or angry at ProZ.com, and the reason for your annoyance seemed to me to be that they did not take the matter seriously.

I do believe I have a right to know what was done with my CV and since only Proz have the information about the identity of the impersonator, I would have to get that information from them.


I must have misunderstood your original messages. I was under the impression that ProZ.com does not keep track of who downloads the CV and keeps a record (somehow) of what those people do with the CVs. I was also under the impression that ProZ.com does not know what the impersonator's identity is, except for the information that you had provided to them.

I made my suggestion ... directly to the Proz member of staff who was dealing with this issue...


A company like ProZ.com may have certain procedures that they follow when considering new features, and that if you want such features implemented, the easiest and most effective way to make that happen is to follow those procedures. The added benefit of following ProZ.com's procedures instead of following the procedure you find more comfortable is that if you do post in the Suggestions forum, the rest of us will have the opportunity to voice our support for your suggestion.

Also, has it occurred to you that the staff members whose job it is to deal with plagiarism may not be the same staff member whose job it is to consider and implement new features?

I have not said anywhere that I will be taking legal action. I did ask for suggestions of a legal nature, which means suggestions which were not illegal!


I'm sorry that I misunderstood you. To me, "advice of a legal nature" does not mean "advice that is not illegal" but "advice about legal matters". I did not realise that you meant something else by it.


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Lucia Leszinsky
SITE STAFF
Clarifying a few points a locking the thread Jun 30, 2010

Hello all,

I will try to explain here some of the points mentioned in this thread and that I believe need clarification.

Helen Shiner wrote:

My immediate reaction was to send details of this occurrence to Proz in the form of a support ticket. I was told by a member of Proz staff that no-one with the name and e-mail address added to the CV was active on Proz and there was nothing they could do. Having pressed the matter, I was told they would look into it and see what could be done.

I have waited for some days for a response and having chased it up this evening, I am told that Proz will not discuss an administrative action with a "third party". They refuse to give me any details about what has been done.

I am not particularly interested in who did this. I do think though that I have every right to know how many times this was done with my CV and which agencies have been approached with it by this individual.


As explained to your via support request, Helen, there is nothing ProZ.com can do about the case you mention for three main reasons:

  • There is no profile registered in the site associated with the email address or name you supplied. And even if there was one, it would not be easy to prove there was plagiarism.

  • No specific records of CV downloads are kept. And even if there was a record, it would not be possible to determine the honesty of the visitors that download them or the purpose of their download.

  • Site users have the option to set the visibility level of their CVs to decide whether it will be visible to logged-in users, members only or outsourcers. Also, profile owners can refrain from uploading a CV file and show a "CV available upon request" message instead.

    Helen Shiner wrote:

    When I first contacted Proz about it, I suggested that they should stop 'encouraging' people to append their CVs to their profiles and, in the event that they wished to continue to provide us with the option to do so, should alert us to such an eventuality. Nothing has been done and they continue to 'encourage' its posting (one gains points out of 10 for doing so!)


    I do not see any suggestion from you in the support system or the "ProZ.com Suggestions" forum. In any case, the completion of the CV/Resume field in profiles will continue to be encouraged (even if completed with the "CV available upon request" message) since having a complete profile is one of the ProZ.com winning strategies for service providers.

    Helen Shiner wrote:

    Along with other organisations Proz does have a responsibility to protect its users' data.


    This is true and ProZ.com has indeed a policy in place for the protection of users' data. You can find information on how ProZ.com treats personal information here.

    Helen Shiner wrote:

    Their administrative action seems to be about protecting themselves here, as does the fact that they have removed this thread from general view (without informing me, it has to be said).


    I am not sure of what you mean by "they have removed this thread from general view". I see this thread is visible in the Most recent posts page. It also shows in the homepage to those who have selected to have posts in the "Scams" forum displayed there. I see you have not selected such option though. You can do so here.

    To sum up, no action can be taken by site staff in this particular case as, like Samuel clearly points out, CVs and the copyright of profile CVs are not owned by ProZ.com. Site users are responsible for the information displayed in their profiles and, for this, they are given a wide set of options for visibility permissions.

    Now, since this topic has already served its purpose (warning other site users about a case of scam) and discussion seems to have run itself out, I am locking the thread. Thanks for your understanding.

    Best regards,

    Lucia

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