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Another over-payment scam
Thread poster: Monika Sommerfeld

Monika Sommerfeld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:24
English to German
Dec 6, 2011

"Greetings!

I'm (common English name) from Atlanta,Georgia and i'll be
leaving here in Atlanta for the United Kingdom on a business
trip tomorrow.However,I will need your service to translate
some documents for me.I need to make a presentation to some
groups of german speaking people in Munich,Germany on 17th
of November,2011.I will need you to help me translate the
papers from English to German,so each of my audience can
have a copy in german language and they can follow through.I
will also need that the work be delivered by/before November
15,2011.Please,let me know your rate for a total of about
4626 words presentation and your methods of payment.I look
forward to hearing back from you soon.


Best Regards,
(common English name's nickname)
678-701-9193
+447031898509"

This came from someone who contacted me through ProZ.com.

Please everyone beware if you get an e-mail like this. It turned out to be another classical over-payment scheme. Instead of the agreed price, they sent me two postal money orders totaling almost four times the quoted price and wanted me to forward the remaining money on via Western Union. The postal money orders turned out to be forged, and the matter is now being investigated by the police.

Is there a forum or database on ProZ.com where all these scams are collected? I do realize that these people were clever, but if they become lazy and use the exact same phrases more than once on several people, it might be worth collecting these messages somewhere.

Monika Sommerfeld


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:24
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Thank you. Dec 6, 2011

This one has been around for some time now.

Thank you, Monika, for posting it.icon_smile.gif


 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:24
German to English
+ ...
They aren't clever Dec 6, 2011

The English is appalling for someone who claims to be a native speaker. That should really be the give-away. Let's be honest - NOONE would ever offer take you on for a job without any knowledge of your skills etc AND offer to pay in advance.

 

tradewind77
United States
Local time: 11:24
German to English
+ ...
Money Scam Dec 6, 2011

I received one of these as well. The US phone number given is from Atlanta but it's probably a prepaid cell. The UK number led me to this post. The IP address traces to Frankfurt. I did translate for him/them but didn't spend too much time on it. Haven't received any money though. If I actually receive a money order I'll contact the local police.

[Edited at 2011-12-06 19:38 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-12-06 19:39 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-12-06 19:39 GMT]


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:24
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Scams Dec 6, 2011

I hope you have a lot of time, there are tons of scam-related threads on ProZ: http://www.proz.com/forum/scams-946.html

Very thorough Wikipedia article on advance-fee fraud, one of numerous so-called Nigerian or 419 scams, which have a long and ugly history. More info on how it works is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance-fee_fraud

I hope you didn't lose any money. As great as the internet is, there are many pitfalls to beware of.


 

Monika Sommerfeld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:24
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Actually... Dec 6, 2011

David Wright wrote:

The English is appalling for someone who claims to be a native speaker. That should really be the give-away. Let's be honest - NOONE would ever offer take you on for a job without any knowledge of your skills etc AND offer to pay in advance.


Thanks for rubbing it in, David. I know I was stupid to take on this job. But I didn't think the English was THAT appalling, and I have come across this type of "creative spelling" in native speakers quite often. And I wasn't paid in advance; I treated them like I normally treat any other customer, and payment was made within the agreed time frame. Nothing suspicious there.


 

Monika Sommerfeld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:24
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the info, Woodstock! Dec 6, 2011

Woodstock wrote:


I hope you didn't lose any money. As great as the internet is, there are many pitfalls to beware of.



Just three days' work. My only consolation is that they also had expenses (forging the postal order, sending it to me via USPS mail), and they are not getting that back, either. All in all, a painful but not debilitating learning experience.


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:24
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
These scams are often run by big, Dec 6, 2011

organized crime rings, not just some broke dude out for a fast buck:

From a ProZ "Scams" thread a few weeks ago:
Oct 15
Jeff XXX wrote:

Does anyone know how much it costs these scammers to create/print the bogus check and mail it? I wonder if large numbers of translators "accepted" the "project" in order to have them send out the check for nothing, would it cause them to waste significant amounts of their own money?

Reply from another ProZ member to Jeff:
"Recently I translated an Indictment against a group of scammers. Do you have an idea how much they were able to swindle ? Over $ 6 000 000 (six million USD). Plenty of money to print good fake checks or money orders."

So obviously fraud is big business (not sure he was talking about this same type of scam, but still...) and the criminals find enough victims to keep doing it. ProZ should require every translator registering here to read the scam information in the thread I posted above. It's been going on for years and still far too many don't know about it.


 

ElliCom  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:24
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I got scammed too...first time ever Dec 6, 2011

Hi Monika,

I went looking on ProZ where I could post this scam and came upon your post. Thank you for posting this. I think we should put it on all the translation groups on Linked In etc.
I got exactly the same email, and fell for it. And no, the English was not appalling...since so many people don't know how to write or spell.
I should have seen the warning signs. It was such a strange way of doing things - didn't even ask for an invoice. Since it wasn't a registered ProZ user I asked for an advance and kept getting told that it was on the way. I handled it the way I handle all my translations and delivered the work on time. About 2 days work out the window.

The really stupid thing is that since I was so busy I gave one of the documents to a colleague to translate. So now I've really got a mess on my hands.

Thank goodness for vigilant tellers at the bank - who sent me to the post office. They immediately confiscated the forged money orders. Told me these have been turning up lately.

Is there anything that can be done about this?

I agree - a painful but not debilitating experience.

Seller beware!

Elli


 

ElliCom  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:24
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Same here Dec 6, 2011

Monika Sommerfeld wrote:

David Wright wrote:

The English is appalling for someone who claims to be a native speaker. That should really be the give-away. Let's be honest - NOONE would ever offer take you on for a job without any knowledge of your skills etc AND offer to pay in advance.


Thanks for rubbing it in, David. I know I was stupid to take on this job. But I didn't think the English was THAT appalling, and I have come across this type of "creative spelling" in native speakers quite often. And I wasn't paid in advance; I treated them like I normally treat any other customer, and payment was made within the agreed time frame. Nothing suspicious there.


My experience exactly, Monika. And as I mentioned earlier, I get so many badly written, misspelled emails.

Did you go to the police?


 

Monika Sommerfeld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:24
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Police are investigating the matter Dec 7, 2011

ElliCom wrote:

Did you go to the police?


I did. They are filing a report, but I'm not getting any hopes up. I wonder whether this would be a case for the federal police, or whether we translators as an interest group could lean on anyone to look into this.


 

Iris Seifert  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:24
English to German
+ ...
i'm another victim Dec 8, 2011

Monika, thanks for posting - I fell for it, too. My bank took copies of the fake money orders to forward to investigators - they said it's become common, and that the perpetrators keep lists of names of "biters", so likely, we get targeted again.

It seems to me something for the FBI here in the US, even if it's a global operation. I intend to go on an internet offensive at least, not that it helps much regarding the damages.

Iris


 

tradewind77
United States
Local time: 11:24
German to English
+ ...
Another case Dec 9, 2011

I fell for it as well. Quoted a $500 translation and received two money orders totaling $1940.

This is the reply I got from the Crook.

****
I just got to know a few minutes ago that my associate made out money order for the wrong amount($1940) to you instead of $500.I instructed her before traveling abroad on vacation to send $500 to you and have the rest of the money sent to my spanish interpreter who is still holidaying in Boulevard,CA as i will be heading to Spain for a seminar which holds on Dec 19th,2011.I called her immediately i saw your email today and she told me she didn't get my instructions clearly and made a mistake sending the whole of my funds to you.However,i am really sorry about this mistake and i am also very happy you are an honest person.

Kindly proceed to your bank to have the money orders deposited.As soon as funds clear your bank,please deduct your own payment($500) and assist in sending the rest of the money via Western Union transfer to my interpreter using the information below as she has also requested that i pay her in advance before she can be available for my seminar dates in Madrid,Spain.The Western Union transfer charges can also be deducted from my balance as that's not a problem at all.I am very sorry for the inconvenience this payment error may cause you.

Please,provide me with the scan copy of the western union invoice or the MTCN and the exact amount sent as shown on the invoice via email as soon as you are able to do the transaction so i can forward the details to Sandra asap..I look forward to hearing back from you soon.Thanks for your patience and great understanding.Have a wonderful day.
****

I took the orders to the post office and they confirmed they were fake. They kept them and the UPS envelope they came in.


 

Monika Sommerfeld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:24
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Almost the same wording! Dec 9, 2011

Tradewind77,

This is almost exactly the same wording that I got from them (see, they are getting lazy!)

For completeness sake, I am now posting all of their next replies:

"Thanks for the quick response.It simply means you are keeping my $1385 with you for reason best known to you.My associate made a mistake and i have apologised for that as it could have happened to anybody.I am still in the UK and i do not use paypal,so i will advise that you have the checks cashed at your bank and have your payment deducted.Have a great day."

When that intimidation attempt didn't work and I told them I smell a rat, this was their next reply:

"Thanks for the email.This is simply a mistake from my colleague and not a hoax as you probably have thought.You can alternatively have the money sent to me directly in the UK via Western Union.I will expecting to hear back from you soon."

Note that their English gets worse when you put some pressure on them.

I then tipped my hand and told them I had involved the police simply to get them off my back (it worked; I would be very surprised if their gmail address still existed). I'm hoping they won't pass on my e-mail address to other crooks because of that.

Next time I get a suspicious e-mail like that, I'll be sure to google some of the wordings to see if this has come up before!


 

Kordula Coleman
United States
Local time: 13:24
English to German
+ ...
I also fell for this scam... Dec 19, 2011

The guy who contacted me via Proz.com called himself Ray Morgan. This was early November 2011. He sent two English texts to be translated into German. The wording of his e-mails was almost exactly the same as the wording of the ones Monika has posted, so it's probably the same group of people.
THANKFULLY after I got his request to transfer the overpaid money to Ireland with Western Union, my husband decided to ask a friend about this. Our friend strongly advised us against following this request, since it could be considered money laundering, and also told us to google passages of "Ray Morgan's" e-mails.
So THANKS to everyone who posted this scam here on the forum, since after finding your posts we knew for sure we had a con-man or woman on our hands.
Luckily we didn't loose money; I just wasted time translating two very poorly written texts.

Another important hint that I noticed later was that almost the complete text had been lifted from a University website, where a paper containing the text had been published in 2002. The text I received for translation had just been changed in some spots, and had lost a lot of it's coherence and quality in the process!

Just to give more detail; here is his initial e-mail:

Greetings!

I'm Ray Morgan from Atlanta,Georgia and i'll be leaving
here in Atlanta for the United Kingdom on a business trip
tomorrow morning.However,I will need your service to
translate some documents for me.I need to make a
presentation to some groups of german speaking people in
Munich,Germany on 18th of December,2011.I will need you to
help me translate the papers from English to German,so each
of my audience can have a copy in german language and they
can follow through.I will also need that the work be
delivered by Dec 15,2011.Please,let me know your rate for a
total of about 4626 words presentation and your methods of
payment.I look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Best Regards,
Ray
678-701-9193
+447031898509


 
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