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Does this sound suspicious/like money laundering?
Thread poster: Stéphanie Denton
Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:35
French to English
+ ...
Jun 4, 2011

Hello everyone

I would really appreciate your opinions/advice on this:

Last month I received an e-mail sent through another translation site, requesting my French - English services. They requested a quote, and asked my payment terms. It was agreed that I would accept a cheque, but that I would not start the work until the funds had cleared into my account.

I received a cheque, but not for the amount agreed, in fact, for more than treble that. I informed the client who said that an error had been made, that the remaining funds were supposed to have been sent to an interpreter. He asked me if I would mind banking the cheque and then transferring the rest via Western Union as he needed to pay the interpreter's flights.

This didn't seem TOO iffy to me, as it could have been a genuine mistake. I banked the cheque and the funds have cleared. However, today, I received a request via the same translation site. The request (from someone "different") is virtually word-for-word the same, down to the amount of words to be translated. The only difference is that the language pair is English to French, not French to English.

I'm concerned that someone may be using my services for money laundering.

To top it off, I contacted the initial client, and the details he initially gave me for the 'interpreter' do not match with the name he mentioned in today's e-mail...

What do you think?

Many thanks for you time and participation.

Stéphanie

[Edited at 2011-06-04 15:57 GMT]


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:35
English to French
+ ...
It is a known scam Jun 4, 2011

What else is there to say. It has nothing to do with "money laundering". Just a scam in which the scammers usually ask the sucker, I mean target, to send them back the excess payment.
Oh, and I almost forgot: the check is bad. Even if it clears. When the bank realizes that it is bad, the money will be deducted from your account (and US banks will charge a penalty for cashing a bad check).


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Merja Jauhiainen  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:35
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Most likely a scam Jun 4, 2011

Hi Stephanie,

I'm afraid this sounds like a scam... Similar cases have been reported before, always with this type of situation with cheques...

Can't really give any advice, but I would personally stay clear of this kind of clients.


Kind regards,
Merja


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:35
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
But I've been paid... Jun 4, 2011

Merja Jauhiainen wrote:

Hi Stephanie,

I'm afraid this sounds like a scam... Similar cases have been reported before, always with this type of situation with cheques...

Can't really give any advice, but I would personally stay clear of this kind of clients.


Kind regards,
Merja


I agree that it sounds like a scam, but what sort? As I've been paid for my translation, even before it was done...


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:35
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Cheque Jun 4, 2011

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
I banked the cheque and the funds have cleared.


Are you sure about that? It takes sometimes a month or more before the bank realizes the cheque was fake and asks you to refund the money.
I hope you did not send the money via Western Union yet.

Laura


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:35
Member
French to English
+ ...
The cheque will turn out to be a dud Jun 4, 2011

Sooner or later, your bank will get back to you to say that the cheque is invalid, so you won't get to keep the funds. In the meantime, the scammer is hoping that you will send the difference to him/her by a method enabling him/her to escape detection - Western Union. The cheque is paid in advance because the scammer doesn't need a translation, it's done that way to make you think the "client" is acting in good faith.

Take a look at the Scams forum - you'll find a whole load of threads about this.

[Edited at 2011-06-04 16:11 GMT]


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Merja Jauhiainen  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:35
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Evident later? Jun 4, 2011

A colleague just reported a similar case on another forum here in Finland - she was paid too much with a cheque and then asked to return the "too much" part; they first said they paid for another order that was then cancelled, and the translator was to return the money. In that case, the cheque turned out not to be valid so the translator lost even the money she should have received.
Hope your case is different!

Merja


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Tomoyuki Kono  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:35
Member (2010)
English to Japanese
+ ...
classic cheque scam Jun 4, 2011

This sounds like the classic overpayment scam. I have heard of many scam stories which resemble this pattern.

E.g. http://www.safefromscams.co.uk/ChequeScams.html

Do not send the money back and you should alert your bank immediately.

Good luck and stay safe!

Tomo


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:35
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Spoken to bank... Jun 4, 2011

Tomoyuki Kono wrote:

This sounds like the classic overpayment scam. I have heard of many scam stories which resemble this pattern.

E.g. http://www.safefromscams.co.uk/ChequeScams.html

Do not send the money back and you should alert your bank immediately.

Good luck and stay safe!

Tomo


...Who say that the funds have definitely cleared and that means that the funds have been debited from someone's account.

I'm very confused now!!


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Get it in writing from your bank Jun 4, 2011

If the check turns out to be phoney, they will remove the funds from your account.

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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:35
Member
French to English
+ ...
Don't pay the difference! Jun 4, 2011

The fact that the funds are definitely now in your account doesn't mean that you'll get to keep them; it can take banks a while to cotton on in cases of fraud. The cheque could be stolen or forged but drawn on a real account. See http://www.zyra.org.uk/cheqscam.htm

Have you paid the difference yet? If not, don't! And out of interest, how much are we talking about here - a trifling amount that wouldn't be of interest to a scammer, or a more significant sum?


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:35
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A lot of money Jun 4, 2011

Peter Shortall wrote:

Have you paid the difference yet? If not, don't! And out of interest, how much are we talking about here - a trifling amount that wouldn't be of interest to a scammer, or a more significant sum?


We're talking 2k...I haven't paid the difference yet. The bank seemed positive that it was a genuine cheque...


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:35
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Link Jun 4, 2011

I just found this online:
http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/Phony_Check_Scams.php


However, the cheque hasn't bounced as the funds are in my account...I'm really worried about this as if it's a scam, I don't lose anything as I'm not going to pay, but if it is a genuine error, I may lose this client for good if I accuse him of anything...


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:35
Member
French to English
+ ...
Phew! Jun 4, 2011

That's a relief. I don't think you need to worry about losing this client!

He isn't outside his country of residence on business at the moment, by any chance, is he? Not that it really makes any difference, but it seems to be a fairly common feature of this type of scam.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:35
French to English
+ ...
Worry about going to prison more than losing a client Jun 4, 2011

Honestly, no genuine client sends you a big cheque and then asks you to send some of the money back via Western Union.

I would really just speak to your bank/the police immediately and not make any more contact with the person in question.


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