Can ProZ do more to alert translators about scams?
Thread poster: hshoff
hshoff
Local time: 21:58
French to English
Oct 16, 2010

My husband and I fell victim to a scam, which simply resulted in not getting paid. It was similar to the scams discussed in other threads here, as they wanted to pay by certified check (surely fake). Contacts with the scam artist had otherwise seemed fairly legit. Since we insisted on forms of payment that cannot be falsified (PayPal or money order), no payment was received. They didn't succeed in laundering any money through us, but we did waste time translating for them.

So, here is my question:

I wonder if there is some way that ProZ could help keep trusting translators from being had by these fraudsters.
I had to come looking for this forum, and did so only after figuring out that we had fallen for a scam. It seems to me that -- given the increasing targeting of translators by these money/fake check laundering schemes -- ProZ could be more proactive in informing its members about the possibility of such fraud and in alerting them when scam translation requests are received by a member. If one person gets such a scam request, there are surely dozens more.

These scams would dry up if nobody fell for them, but they persist. I think we need to be more aggressive. I contacted a debt collection service to find out what if anything could be done to identify the perpetrator and they basically said "nothing". (We're weren't looking for payment, but would like to see the person/people involved stopped.)

Any suggestions? I know that anyone who has been a victim will not fall for such things a second time, but what about preventing that first unhappy learning experience? What can we do?

[Edited at 2010-10-16 18:48 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-10-16 18:49 GMT]


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GianLuigi Miani  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:58
Italian to English
+ ...
RE : I AGREE WITH YOU Oct 18, 2010

hshoff wrote:

My husband and I fell victim to a scam, which simply resulted in not getting paid. It was similar to the scams discussed in other threads here, as they wanted to pay by certified check (surely fake). Contacts with the scam artist had otherwise seemed fairly legit. Since we insisted on forms of payment that cannot be falsified (PayPal or money order), no payment was received. They didn't succeed in laundering any money through us, but we did waste time translating for them.

So, here is my question:

I wonder if there is some way that ProZ could help keep trusting translators from being had by these fraudsters.
I had to come looking for this forum, and did so only after figuring out that we had fallen for a scam. It seems to me that -- given the increasing targeting of translators by these money/fake check laundering schemes -- ProZ could be more proactive in informing its members about the possibility of such fraud and in alerting them when scam translation requests are received by a member. If one person gets such a scam request, there are surely dozens more.

These scams would dry up if nobody fell for them, but they persist. I think we need to be more aggressive. I contacted a debt collection service to find out what if anything could be done to identify the perpetrator and they basically said "nothing". (We're weren't looking for payment, but would like to see the person/people involved stopped.)

Any suggestions? I know that anyone who has been a victim will not fall for such things a second time, but what about preventing that first unhappy learning experience? What can we do?

[Edited at 2010-10-16 18:48 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-10-16 18:49 GMT]







I completely agree with you..... you have to tkin that in 2 months I received at least 5 ot 6 of these threads, as you already said...... there are hundreds of scam spread out every week ... a huge "freelance translator" team should be created with this aim..... to delete scams or at least reduce it, contacting ....well to exert pressure on Proz...


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:58
French to English
+ ...
Maaaaybe a database? Oct 18, 2010

In fairness, ProZ does host a FAQ on spotting scams targeted at translators.

One thing that might help would be for them to host a database of scam e-mails received by translators, with a facility to enter the text of an e-mail you received and see similar matches from database of previous scams posted by others. *General* scam databases of this nature do exist on the web, but they're largely oriented around spotting lottery scams and other forms of scam, which in the wider world are common, but not specifically targeted at translators.

However, there would obviously be issues involved in this: how do you ascertain that a given candidate for the database is actually a scam? And a search function would involve submitting to ProZ a confidential e-mail that potentially isn't a scam...

However, even if such a database was set up, if shouldn't be used to lull you into a false sense of security. It is still very important to try to develop techniques for spotting legitimate proposals vs scams (researching the company and making sure you're replying to a legitimate e-mail address, being suspicious of e-mails that mention elaborate stories and payment arrangements rather than just a simple question about price/deadline and a boring, traceable bank transfer...)


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hshoff
Local time: 21:58
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
We need to support each other Oct 18, 2010

Thanks for the encouragement.

The ProZ Support staff has confirmed to me that they cannot do more than they already do. They will not, for example, send an email to their members alerting them to the problem or to a particular scam that is circulating.

As I stated earlier, however, the problem is that we do not come to this forum until confronted with the realization that someone has tried (or succeeded) to scam us. At that point, it may already be too late.

I suggest that we be proactive in sending alerts to our personal contacts in the industry and to any associations/networking groups that we belong to. I have begun by sending an alert to the Wordfast Classic group on Yahoo, pointing readers to this page and the Wiki page among other suggested self-protective actions. I will be sending the same message to my own contacts in the industry, particularly the freelancers.

Best,

Heidi


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:58
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some tips Oct 18, 2010

Never, ever work for anyone with a free e-mail account (yahoo, hotmail, g-mail, etc.) without 100% payment in advance. Ask them to e-mail you from their BUSINESS address.

Never, ever work for a direct client without at least 50% pre-payment (do not start work until valid payment is verified - bank transfer, PayPal, CASHED check) even if this is for a rush job (not your problem). This is standard practice for non-KTA agencies.

Never, ever work for an agency without first checking their credentials (BlueBoard, other payment practices sites, website, google map their address to verify that they have an office, etc. and are not just working out of their apartment).

Never, ever work for a client or agency in countries known for poor payment practices.

Be especially cautious of a new client or agency who suddenly offers you (a person they do not know) a very large project. Ask yourself, why would they do this?

Do not extend a lot of credit (unpaid invoices) to a new client or agency.

Be aware of the strange, odd language used by scam artists (My name is Countess Regina Higgenbottom and I am seeking your humble assistance on the occasion of a planned excursion...)

Never, ever be so eager for work or afraid that someone else will take the job first that you forget to be cautious.


hshoff wrote:


Any suggestions? I know that anyone who has been a victim will not fall for such things a second time, but what about preventing that first unhappy learning experience? What can we do?


[Edited at 2010-10-18 16:47 GMT]


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 23:58
SITE STAFF
What has been done on this issue Oct 18, 2010

hshoff wrote:

I wonder if there is some way that ProZ could help keep trusting translators from being had by these fraudsters. I had to come looking for this forum, and did so only after figuring out that we had fallen for a scam. It seems to me that -- given the increasing targeting of translators by these money/fake check laundering schemes -- ProZ could be more proactive in informing its members about the possibility of such fraud and in alerting them when scam translation requests are received by a member. If one person gets such a scam request, there are surely dozens more.

These scams would dry up if nobody fell for them, but they persist. I think we need to be more aggressive. I contacted a debt collection service to find out what if anything could be done to identify the perpetrator and they basically said "nothing". (We're weren't looking for payment, but would like to see the person/people involved stopped.)

Any suggestions? I know that anyone who has been a victim will not fall for such things a second time, but what about preventing that first unhappy learning experience? What can we do?



Hi hshoff,

Please note that besides creating this forum for translators to share theirs experiences and advise on scams, ProZ.com has created dedicated wiki page and has addressed the issue of scams (with links to this wiki page) in the newsletters sent to all ProZ.com users at the end of June and at the end of September.

Of course ProZ.com staff is open to any suggestion that could help raise awareness of translators regarding these issues.

Regards,
Enrique


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:58
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
You can also track this forum to get email alerts Oct 19, 2010

You can turn on tracking for this forum and then you will receive email alerts for each new topic or each new post, depending on how you set it up.
Go to your Profile, choose "Settings", then "Forum Dashboard", then the "Homepage forums" tab, and check the box for the Scams forum.
Then go back to the "Forums you are tracking" tab, and select the type of tracking you want.
I hope this helps.
Katalin


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hshoff
Local time: 21:58
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
That's great news, Enrique! Oct 19, 2010

Hi Enrique,

Kudos to ProZ for that proactive move. That is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to hear about and I'm sorry I was not aware of it when I started this thread. I have not been getting the newsletters, but there was an error in one of my email addresses that was sending some emails astray, it seems. I did get lots of notices about conferences and trainings, so I didn't catch on to the problem until this week.

I do think that this forum and the Wiki page are great initiatives. I pointed the members of the Wordfast user group on Yahoo to the URLs of these excellent resources.

However, the initial problem remains: how to keep trusting (uninformed, naive, choose your adjective in the language of your choice) translators from falling prey. Now I know about these great ProZ resources and about the Payment Practices website, and I have listed our con artist's false ID and contact info in their database, but I didn't know about all this when we were first contacted by him or her.

My husband did receive the newsletters you mentioned, but didn't notice any mention of scams -- like many batch emails, he probably scanned it quickly before deleting it and getting back to work. So, what to do?

I have come to the conclusion that I have a responsibility to raise awareness among my friends and colleagues. I am on a bit of a campaign (in case it hasn't already become abundantly clear). It seems we can't track down the baddies, so I am in favour of spreading the word early and often among all the good folks I know. Personal emails are harder to ignore, so it might be more effective for each of us to send our friends a little (alarming) note, rather than thinking that ProZ should do that for us.

Thanks, everyone, for the good suggestions. Pass them along to all the translators you know!

Keep up the good work, ProZ! And I'll do my part, too.

Heidi

[Edited at 2010-10-19 01:41 GMT]


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