Scam or not? I think it was
Thread poster: Javier Moreno-Pollarolo

Javier Moreno-Pollarolo  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 11, 2010

I just got "scammed", and I use quotes since I don't know if I really was scammed or I was the misunderstanding part of something. Either way, here's my story,

On wednesday I was contacted by a desperate real estate agent in Arizona wanting me to translate some real estate documents from English to Spanish to be used for his clients. He is one of those mortgage dealers who "buy" your debt with the bank, give you some peace of mind for the moment and then later kill you with the interests.

A typical real estate business during these difficult times.

Anyway, first he sends me 8000 words in several documents, telling me that he needs them by friday. The documents are on PDF, protected with passwords, and I cannot extract the text to edit it. I tell him this and he goes "ok, I'll give it to my partner so he can convert it"

So far, everything is being done over the phone and his English, although american, is very limited.

His partner sends me an abridged version of the 8000 words, a "telephone script" for three way conference calls with his spanish clients. I quote the translation at a certain amount of money, via email, and he sends me an email saying "* bill me"

(he used the *)

After completing the translation, I send this to him and he changes completely: "I don't need this translated. I can do this for free here. I need you to be a phone interpreter when I am with my spanish speaking clients... whenever I need you".

I didn't lose that much money (at the end it took me an hour to translate the abridged version of the sales pitch), but just be careful. My mistake was not dealing with him over emails and not paying attention to the asterisk, something he can later dispute in court or some legal stance.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ask for an advance payment Oct 11, 2010

I think you might be too naïve in these dealings with unknown customers. Whenever a new customer comes around with a project that can take you more than 30 minutes of your time, ask for an advance payment of 1/3 of the value of the project. Customers immediately notice that you offer a serious service and will take it into account. If a customer does send you 1/3 of the money, you can start to believe it is a serious firm and a firm order.

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Javier Moreno-Pollarolo  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am naive indeed. Oct 11, 2010

That's why I posted these two stories. From now on I don't accept any job that I don't get payment in advance -for individual clients-. They should already know I am a legitimate business owner.

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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:32
German to English
You don't need a customer like this Oct 11, 2010

It doesn't matter whether this is a scam or not. This person, if legitimate, really doesn't know how to do business. There are plenty of opportunities to work for people who know what they want and can convey their needs in an organized manner.

Asking you to be on call for phone interpreting services is pretty nervy. I would ask for a retainer -- in advance. Tell the client that this would cover X hours of telephone interpretation, anything above that would be extra and billed at a rate of X dollars per minute.

If the client is for real, he'll either accept, or attempt to negotiate the rate. If he's a fake, you'll never hear from him again, and good riddance!


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Javier Moreno-Pollarolo  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good advice, Kevin! Oct 12, 2010

Thank you for your support! Although I recognize I'm naïve, I think I'm always learning something.

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Riadh Muslih  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:32
Arabic to English
+ ...
I highly recommend the advance payment policy. Oct 12, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I think you might be too naïve in these dealings with unknown customers. Whenever a new customer comes around with a project that can take you more than 30 minutes of your time, ask for an advance payment of 1/3 of the value of the project. Customers immediately notice that you offer a serious service and will take it into account. If a customer does send you 1/3 of the money, you can start to believe it is a serious firm and a firm order.


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Amel Abdullah  Identity Verified
Jordan
Arabic to English
+ ...
Asterisk? Oct 12, 2010

What is the significance of the asterisk?

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