Corporate identity theft? What do I do???
Thread poster: Crystal Samples

Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:15
French to English
+ ...
Oct 7, 2011

Hello All,

I just found out that someone has been assigning translation work and claiming to be me, giving people my website and ProZ.com profile when asked for references. What do I do about this? Who do I report this to? I don't want to confront them directly for fear of spooking them. But I don't want to just do nothing.

I'm at a loss. Any advice anyone could give would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Crystal S.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:15
French to German
+ ...
It would be useful... Oct 7, 2011

to write a disclaimer and to post it on ProZ.com and "elsewhere" to start with.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The translators' fault!! Oct 7, 2011

It simply amazes me how desperate some translators can be to get work that they do not even check websites and addresses and do some research. It is as simple as a phone call to a number you look for personally, or an email to the email address shown in the website of the actual company.

This identity theft would be simply impossible in the real world. I reckon some people must be more careful with the people they work for!

As for your situation, I reckon that there is little you can do. Maybe if someone contacts you to ask for payment for a job you did not order, you should ask this person for copies of all emails and report the matter to the police.


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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:15
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Due diligence Oct 7, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

It simply amazes me how desperate some translators can be to get work that they do not even check websites and addresses and do some research. It is as simple as a phone call to a number you look for personally, or an email to the email address shown in the website of the actual company.

This identity theft would be simply impossible in the real world. I reckon some people must be more careful with the people they work for!

As for your situation, I reckon that there is little you can do. Maybe if someone contacts you to ask for payment for a job you did not order, you should ask this person for copies of all emails and report the matter to the police.



Actually, I am very grateful to the translator that called me to inquire about one of the jobs. Had he not done his due diligence, I might not have ever found out about this. He sensed that something was not right when the PO that the perpetrator sent did not have any contact information on it (no address or website or anything). Then the person sent the translator My ProZ Blueboard profile and my website as "references". My Blueboard profile had my phone number on it, so he called me.

I see that the thief has only posted two jobs so far on TranslatorsCafe.com, and both were posted yesterday. I am trying to see if Translator's Cafe can block this person from posting any further jobs. They appear to be located in Malta. I'm wondering how I would go about prosecuting this person since we are not in the same country.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:15
French to English
+ ...
Maybe look at message authentication... Oct 7, 2011

Obviously a starting point could be to mention (if you haven't already) on your ProZ profile that somebody is spoofing you. At least if people are alerted to the issue they no to make further checks if they're suspicious.

Maybe another partial solution-- and I admit it's by no means ideal and the simplest thing in the world-- it to use a message authentication system such as PGP ("Pretty Good Privacy"). Basically, it's a system that allows you to "sign" a message or e-mail to say that it was really from you. (You can also encrypt messages with the system, but I don't think you need that.)

You set up the system initially by creating a pair of "keys" (which actually looks essentially like a string of numbers and letters) called a "private" key and a "public" key. On your ProZ profile, web page etc, you publish your public key. The "private" key is kept secret to you.

When you send an e-mail, you use a utility which takes your message and private key and generates a "signature".

Anybody can then check that a message is really from you by using a corresponding utility that takes (a) a given message supposedly from you, (b) the associated signature, (c) your public key published on your web page and determines whether the signature "checks out".

Because other people don't know your private key, they can't falsely generate signatures to messages to pretend they're from you.

Obvious cons:
- there's some setting up to do -- I guess how automated you could make the signing procedure would depend on what e-mail system you're using
- it relies on other collaborators, clients etc actually being bothered to check the signature of any messages they're suspicious of (or setting up a system their end to automatically check signatures-- I'm guessing that can be done)
- it relies on you not generating "false positives", i.e. messages where you forget/your system fails to sign them when clients are expecting them to be signed

So maybe for practical reasons it's a last resort, but I thought I'd mention it.

I should also say that PGP was one of the first of such systems-- there may these days be similar but more user-friendly systems that can be set up by some mail providers. The main thing to take away is that "such systems exist" in case you think it could be useful and want to do more digging.

[Edited at 2011-10-07 16:14 GMT]


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:15
Member
French to English
+ ...
I suffered a similar abuse Oct 7, 2011

I do sympathize!

I suffered similar identity theft recently on ProZ.com, although the circumstances were less serious. However, no real solution has been found, and I have to say I was disappointed with the reaction of site staff to my plea for help.

Basically, another (new) ProZ.com member lifted great chunks of my profile to create their own, with only the very minimum of editing — the plagiarism was obvious!

Worse still, they even "stole" the customer testimonials quoted on my profile page.

This was reported to site staff, and after a long delay, I did eventually see that the offending user's profile has now been edited.

What I think is appalling is that person sports the red 'P', which supposedly indicates that, among other things, they respect a certain code of professional ethics!!!

However, of much greater concern to me was the fact that this person also stole this same information from my profile to post on their external website, and there, the key parts of my customer testimonials are still visible. Of course there's nothing that ProZ.com can do about this — other than 'reward' the offender with the red 'P' of professional approval!

Am I angry? Too darned right I am! All the more so, because this person has sought to connect wtih me on external professional networking sites (goodness knows what havoc this person might wreak there!), and even had the barefaced cheek to ask me to be their 'mentor'!!!

Whatever happened to professional integrity?

As a footnote, this person has also published some blatant lies on the website — for example, by claiming many more years of translation experience that would be possible from their stated age.

[Modifié le 2011-10-07 16:31 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:15
French to German
+ ...
... Oct 7, 2011

@ Crystal: I PMed you about this matter.

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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:15
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
UPDATE Oct 7, 2011

The web administrator at Translator's Cafe just told me that he "removed the jobs, profile and used all available technical means to block this person." So that is somewhat of a relief, but I'm still just blown away by the blatant fraud carried out by this person.

Thank you everyone for your advice, which I will surely take into account while still trying to think of other ways to prevent this from happening again.

-C.S.


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:15
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Proven confirmation Oct 7, 2011

Crystal Samples wrote:
Thank you everyone for your advice, which I will surely take into account while still trying to think of other ways to prevent this from happening again.


The obvious solution for the time being is to put a large notice on your profile that all jobs have to be confirmed by phone or by the profile mail message.

I have checked your profile and it seems that you do not have your own domain name? Maybe that is why the scammer has targeted you in the first place - if I get messages supposedly coming from a given client, but sent from a different domain (particularly free email services, e.g. gmail), I get suspicious... I usually write to one of the addresses within that particular domain (as specified on the client's site) to confirm that a person in question actually works there.

The real problem is that the scammer will not try to target you again - instead he will choose another victim...


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:15
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
same here Oct 8, 2011

somebody from the middle east used my complete Proz resume and simply changed the email adres - claiming to be native Dutch and trying to get Dutch jobs, without being able to speak a word!

Proz also blocked this person, but if it's the same person she just created a new e-mail address and did the same trick again...

Ed


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:15
French to German
+ ...
Most probably.... Oct 8, 2011

Edward Vreeburg wrote:

somebody from the middle east used my complete Proz resume and simply changed the email adres - claiming to be native Dutch and trying to get Dutch jobs, without being able to speak a word!

Proz also blocked this person, but if it's the same person she just created a new e-mail address and did the same trick again...

Ed


Most probably the person behind these fraud attempts is a recidivist... and a known one at that too.


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Ivana UK  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:15
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
The exact same thing happened to me too Oct 9, 2011

Tony M wrote:

Basically, another (new) ProZ.com member lifted great chunks of my profile to create their own, with only the very minimum of editing — the plagiarism was obvious!



Hi Tony,

This happened to me too last year - two translators (one on Proz and one on Translatorscafe) copied large chunks of my profile, word-for-word.

Translators cafe were great and immediately cancelled and banned the translator whereas Proz took several months and several reminders to do anything about it.
Eventually I found out that the translator had removed some of the copied text and reworded other parts but was nevertheless allowed to remain a Proz member. That same member has also been permitted to run two Proz profiles (with the same name) for some time now, with apparantly no comeback.

Darn, it's happened again! Just ran a search and found that another so-called translator has copied my profile (not on proz but on another site). Isn't there any way of stopping this?

[Edited at 2011-10-09 15:37 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-10-09 15:38 GMT]


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:15
Member
French to English
+ ...
Reminds me of an earlier case Oct 10, 2011

Some years back, there was the case of an Indian (I think ) translation agency, who 'lifted' several ProZ.com members' profiles wholesale, claiming that these were "the people employed by our agency who will doing your translation", when of course it was completely untrue.

Several of us wrote and complained, but I never did hear the final outcome. The person responsible didn't seem to see anything at all unethical about it.


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