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Fake Travelers Cheques as Payment
Thread poster: Valerie Marzac

Valerie Marzac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:24
English to French
+ ...
Jan 18, 2011

Dear all,

I'd like to report an incident which has just happened to me with a client officially from Spain. Is this the right place to do so?
The idea is to warn others of the tactics used by some people who try and cash fake traveler's cheques through translators like me and you. I would like to make sure that this isn't going to happen to anyone.
I'm going to make a full report on many sites, in some newspapers and also with several banks. My bank is on alert and we are going to try and track these people.

Let me know where I should write my little 'story'. In the meantime time, please never ever ever accept any payment by Traveler's cheques from any client, no matter what they call themselves, no matter how pushy they can be. Please not that the client didn't contact me through Proz but he or she or they may just try that soon!

Kind regards,

Valérie


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:24
English to Japanese
+ ...
You are in the right place Jan 19, 2011

From reading what you wrote, your case seems to be a new type of cheque scam, so I suppose this is the right place to post your topic.

[Edited at 2011-01-19 06:31 GMT]


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 14:24
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Any checks Jan 19, 2011

Valerie Marzac wrote:

Dear all,

I'd like to report an incident which has just happened to me with a client officially from Spain. Is this the right place to do so?
The idea is to warn others of the tactics used by some people who try and cash fake traveler's cheques through translators like me and you. I would like to make sure that this isn't going to happen to anyone.
Valérie

All types of check are risky if the check payer is someone you are not reliable in.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


 

Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
Checks can be checked Jan 19, 2011

I know American Express checks can be checked, I regularly interpret for their call center. Other checks have centers, too.

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Add it to the wiki Jan 19, 2011

You might want to document the method used by the fake outsourcer in the Proz.com wiki for others to read and take into account.

If you don't know how to do it, I might be able to add it from your report in this forum.

And indeed, these days I have heard from at least another Spanish colleague who was pushed to take traveller's checks as an advance payment. However, this time the fake customer tried to represent that she was a Swedish national.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:24
French to German
+ ...
The Australian version of this scam... Jan 19, 2011

targets consumers at random: http://tinyurl.com/amex-cheques-australia - so we are not alone!

PS: and the wiki page insists that there is a software error, so I cannot add the above mentioned link.

ETA: OK, it now works - I have added the link in the "Further reading" point of the "Advance payment/Overpayment" section.

[Modifié le 2011-01-19 08:28 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Traveller's checks Jan 19, 2011

Valerie Marzac wrote:
In the meantime time, please never ever ever accept any payment by Traveler's cheques from any client, no matter what they call themselves, no matter how pushy they can be.


I'm not sure if it is good advice to *never* accept traveller's cheques, but I do think one should keep some things in mind.

Some people trust traveller's cheques (and in some countries also building society cheques) more than they trust other cheques because these cheques can only be issued if the money is there. Usualy, a non-fake traveller's cheque can't bounce, unlike other cheques e.g. personal or business cheques.

Also, traveller's cheques can't easily be cancelled and re-issued like ordinary cheques (with an ordinary cheque, the client can simply tear it up and write out a new cheque with the correct amount on it, with minimal extra costs). One reason people become victims is because they don't want to inconvenience the supposed client, and while you might be happy to insist on a new cheque if it is an ordinary cheque, the scammer is hoping that you wouldn't want to insist on a new cheque (or cash or other payment) if it is a traveller's cheque.

Food for thought: If the client pays with a fake cheque, then it is likely that he is a crook anyway, and even if you refuse the accept the cheque, you won't see your money unless a law-enforcement agency can track him down.

The main thing to remember with traveller's cheques is the same as with other cheques (and all other forms of payment, by the way): before the cash is in your hands, the cheque is not equal to money, and you should not treat it as such. If the cheque's amount is larger than the amount that you are owed, don't give the difference back to the client before you've actually cashed the cheque somewhere where such cheques are normally cashed.

In some countries, you can cash a traveller's cheque at any hotel or even at some restaurants, but in some other countries you need to go to a specific branch of a specific bank in a specific town to do it.

Also I'm not sure if it is legal for anyone to just accept a traveller's cheque as money (i.e. to cash it informally or to accept is as payment for goods or services) -- this may depend on the country that you're in.


[Edited at 2011-01-19 10:03 GMT]


 

Valerie Marzac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:24
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The whole story about those fake traveller's cheques in brief Feb 8, 2011

Thank you for everyone's feedback! Sorry I haven't been able to reply sooner. I'm always pressed for time so I'll type at the speed of light, excuse any typo! I really want to warn others about those crooks.

My story started on Proz, I simply answered an ad from someone who wanted to have a document translated into French. I sent a quote. The client replied to me, asked me for my lowest rate, etc, so far so good.
I received a sample of the text to be translated with an email which I did find slightly strange. The client told me about herself, which is fairly unusual. She explained that she lives in Spain and gave me her full address details.
She sent another email saying that she had asked her client to pay me 30% in advance, another 30% towards the middle of the project and the remaining 40% upon completion. This was a little peculiar as well but considering the type of project, it might have been genuine.

The following morning I received an email in which the client sounded slightly frustrated as her own client was refusing to pay by Paypal or bank transfer and insisted on traveller's cheques, a bit of a strange method of payment between Spain and France, I thought to myself. She asked whether this method of payment would be acceptable to me. I wasn't too keen at that point as I could smell a fish. But I eventually accepted since I hadn't started the translation work.

Before I received the traveller's cheques, the client told me that her own client had sent the full amount to me. This meant that my client's share was enclosed in the payment I was going to receive. This sounded very strange indeed and I did receive the full amount. My client told me to cash those cheques anywhere and send her back her share right away without delay. Her tone had changed by then, she was literally ordering me around. I refused to send her back her share by depositing all the money on my account but that I would send her back the cheques instead. To this end, my client gave me an address in France, I paid 23 euros for postage as she needed those cheques urgently.
My bank told me the traveller's cheques were forged. I told my client of course but received no reply. I wasn't surprised at all... The French address she had given me didn't exist. I eventually told that person or group of people I should say as I'm sure there's more than one involved, that I knew what they were up to and would do all in my power to stop them and I will. I may not know who they are but I know how they proceed, which allows me to warn others.

I believe that French translators shouldn't accept traveller's cheques from another European country because they are very costly when a Paypal payment or bank transfer is always going to be much cheaper for the client. So there is no advantage is sending traveller's cheques. They may also get lost in the mail. It's real hassle. I will never accept such a type of payment again.
Mostly please be so careful if you reply to a private job posting. I am currently blocked from some of them on Proz and I worry that that client of mine is up to no good again.

Someone tried to access my Facebook account. I'm sure my so-called client(s) have something do to with it. I tracked the intrusion somewhere between Belgium and Holland.


So long...anybody wants some fake traveller's cheques for 4,000 e, hu? Actually, I think I'll keep them as a reminder to be ever so careful.


 

Claire Montazeaud  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:24
English to French
+ ...
Traveller's checks and Western Union Feb 10, 2011

Hello Valerie,

thank you for your story. The same just happened to me. And I would like to had that after receiving the checks the client asked me to keep 1000 euros and send the 3000 euros back via Western Union. Sounds like a good deal right....Funny that these guys don't have a bank account those days! Fortunately I haven't translated a single word for them!

[Redaguota 2011-02-10 08:12 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
How to check cheques Feb 10, 2011

Benno Groeneveld wrote:
I know American Express checks can be checked, I regularly interpret for their call center. Other checks have centers, too.


What would Amercan Express's method of checking (for the public) be? Dial a number and type in the cheque number, perhaps? What would that number be?

For the wiki:

A list of American Express numbers in various countries:
http://www.americanexpress.com/uk/tc/custservice.shtml
Simply call them and tell them the cheque number to find out if the cheque is valid.

I'm not sure what will happen if the cheque is stolen and the owner hasn't reported it as stolen by the time you phone the helpline -- my guess is that the cheque will be identified as valid, but that if you try to cash the cheque after the owner had reported it as stolen, you'd be out of luck anyway.



[Edited at 2011-02-10 11:17 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
They have a call center Feb 10, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:
Benno Groeneveld wrote:
I know American Express checks can be checked, I regularly interpret for their call center. Other checks have centers, too.

What would Amercan Express's method of checking (for the public) be? Dial a number and type in the cheque number, perhaps? What would that number be?

Things might have changed, but when I worked at Amex, I happened to work right under their call center in Brighton, UK. They have speakers of all major languages (my girlfriend at that time and a sister-in-law worked there and they managed several languages each). Oh my! This was so long ago!! I must be really old!icon_smile.gif

Amex's website might give you more information about who to call.

[Edited at 2011-02-10 11:18 GMT]


 

Valerie Marzac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:24
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Is there some page to sum-up such issues as links only? Feb 10, 2011

Dear all,


Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and bad experience regarding payment.

I was wondering if there is a specific page where such issues can be posted as links only so that anyone facing a problem can simply scroll quickly through the list and find the relevant problem?
Posting on these forums is of use to those who have time to read through all of our comments, but for those who are in a rush, a list of such problems might prove more useful.

It could look something like what follows.

PAYMENT ISSUES

1 - Company refuses to pay, what to do.
a
b
c
2 - Travellers' cheques issues

3- Late payment issues

and so forth.

Regarding my story, it does match what my French colleague described in her comment. I was also asked to wire some money via Western Union and to keep 1000 e at first and send back 3000. They also use strange names. My client called herself Myriam Esslinger, it doesn't exactly sound very Spanish to me. The name associated with the French address I shipped the cheques to was totally weird, it sounded like a fake Dutch name as far as I can tell, which is rather close to my nose when it comes to the Dutch language, granted!


 

Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:24
Member (2010)
English to French
same thing... Feb 11, 2011

@ Val, @ Claire, dear all

the same thing happenned to me; fortunately I didn't cash the travelers, and I hadn't started the translation yet! Of course I sent nothing through Western Union.

It was a private "business woman" with a hotmail address!

It just wasted me 1 week work.

take care!


 

lelalo
Local time: 09:24
anyone got the cheques? Feb 21, 2011

Hi everyone!
Did anyone of you actually receive the fake cheques and what did you do with them?
I got an email with exactly the same translation scheme...


 

Paula Tome  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:24
English to Portuguese
More fake traveller cheques May 23, 2012

Dear all,

I was contacted via Aquarius.net by someone posing as an independent localization person called Marielle Khouri. After delivering my job with an invoice for £230.00 containing my address and my bank details I was sent 2000 dollars of fake traveller cheques by someone I never heard of in Belgium. I actually binned the cheques well before I realised that was meant to be the payment for the job. Having contacted the bank, Action fraud and CIFAS, I thought I'd drop a warning line in here as well. The project was an ebook on health tips. It is my first scam in 12 years of freelancing so am feeling a bit shattered. Oh well.

[Edited at 2012-05-23 21:49 GMT]


 
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Fake Travelers Cheques as Payment

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