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New Scam (or is it?)
Thread poster: Javier Moreno-Pollarolo

Javier Moreno-Pollarolo  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 10, 2011

Got an email last night about 1 am:

Hi,

Please, How much will you charge for Writing and Translating a Literature Book?

XXX.


Pretty simple, right? I responded the usual, thank you for contacting me, I would like to know more about your project, deadline, and so. I got this:


Thank you very Much for your response. I am a Lecturer from one of the Universities in West Africa. I teach Creative Art. I am from America. I have about 14 Literature Books that i want to Translate into different Europe Languages. I have been selling my Books to students here for the past 5 Years as handouts.

The school has now established more departments where international Languages are been use to teach. My Books are becoming irrelevant to the students now. I need to make the books available in different Languages and also re-brand them, so that i can get patronised.

Each book has about 102 Pages and i have Drama/Movies that has about 50 scenes. I am going to send you Copies of the Books and CD of all my projects, then you will Watch,read, re-write and Translate them. I want it to be of international Standard that is why i have decided to contact someone from USA.

Please let me know if you will be able to do this. I will be paying you an Up front of your Charges Via Western Union when we agree terms. I want the Books done within now and January. I am willing to Pay for an Express service because a New Session will start in January.

Let me know what you think about my Project,so that we can proceed to the Next Step.

I Look forward to hearing from you.

XXX.



The name I got in this email was "Alvin York". Anybody else got an email like this?


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
Coincidence? Dec 10, 2011

I knew the name was familiar:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_C._York


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Annie Sapucaia  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:53
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Doesn't look right Dec 10, 2011

I've never gotten this email and really don't know, but it doesn't seem legitimate to me. Why didn't he say what university he teaches at in West Africa? Just sounds fishy.

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Javier Moreno-Pollarolo  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
New scam and very fishy. Dec 10, 2011

Annie Sapucaia wrote:

I've never gotten this email and really don't know, but it doesn't seem legitimate to me. Why didn't he say what university he teaches at in West Africa? Just sounds fishy.


Yes it is. The fishiest part is when he tells me he´s gonna pay via Western Union in advance.

Nobody pays in advance for something that big.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:53
German to English
+ ...
Very disturbing Dec 10, 2011

I agree that it is a scam. What bothers me is that these seem to be hitting translators with growing frequency: here on ProZ there has been one or two a day recently, which tells me that too many translators have fallen for this. It would not be spreading if they were not having success with this target group.

Translators tend to live sheltered lives, literally, so what do we do to spread the word amongst our colleagues? ProZ has taken numerous steps, but that is obviously not enough, as those who are targeted (just look at the "scam" threads from the past week) are woefully ill-informed.

Any ideas? I use Twitter on occasion, and could publicize it more that way. However, I would think most of our "tweeting" colleagues are probably aware of the risk of scams. Still, it's worth a try.

Any other suggestions? Let's try to find some solutions instead of just reporting the fait accompli, or nearly accompli. This is becoming too big of a problem to write off as isolated incidents.


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Javier Moreno-Pollarolo  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Suggestions Dec 10, 2011

This scam's not only attacks translators but writers (see the very scam, the person wanted me to write the books for him ???? ), as well as any service provider: limo drivers, tax consultants, coaches, etc. The basic trick consists in YOU giving the person MONEY because this person sent you a check with the wrong amount. Here are some advices from my part:

1. Payment from overseas: if you think it is a scam, it is. Checks from overseas? No way. PayPal or money bookers or transfers. They will never send you the wrong amount.

2. Be sure you have a way to get their ip address. You can tell them "check my proz.com profile". You will see then, if they visit it, where they are really located.

3. If you get an email from them at 3am and they tell you they're local, most likely they're not.

4. Do not give them any financial info.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:53
German to English
+ ...
Thank you Dec 10, 2011

I agree, Javier, those are good suggestions, but not quite what I was driving at. I know these scams have been going on in one form or other for decades (called Nigerian or 419 scams), and that they have - unfortunately - been quite successful in defrauding all kinds of people. This particular type of scam is called advance-fee fraud and is well-documented: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_fee_fraud

My point was to explore ways of informing OUR professional colleagues to make sure they are educated about these scams, because too many are not aware of them based on the increasing number of them being discussed here in the forums. We translators have various avenues to do reach out to other translators, maybe some individuals have access to other groups of professions, but I don't. I can only try to get the word out to other translators to beware. Some of the people who posted these threads had no idea about these scams beforehand. Apparently many don't read the forum threads (don't have time, perhaps, or don't think it has anything to do with them until it's too late), but the word is not getting out to them.That was my point. People have to know about them to begin with, then your suggestions are good ones. But as long as so many of our colleagues do not even KNOW these scams exist, more will become victims.

[Edited at 2011-12-10 22:26 GMT]


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 14:53
Romanian to English
+ ...
PPT "how to dodge translation scams" Dec 11, 2011

With the precious help from our colleague Enrique Cavallitto , I put together a 20 slides power-point about different schemes that target our community and I intend to present it at the ATA anual and semi-anual conference. If any national translators' association feels that it would be helpful to present it to its members, please just contact me and I gladly will send you the presentation.

Good luck,
Lee


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:53
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Spreading the word. Dec 11, 2011

An American using Pigeon English is always suspicious. A deceased person contacting you with the request to write his/her books is even more suspicious. The method of payment stipulated in his/her email has been discussed and positively identified as a scam many times in these fora.

Javier's suggestions sound very good. They can be applied once Woodstock's main concern is being executed.

We need to raise awareness of this type of scam - or any other, for this matter. Once our colleagues are "trained" to immediately spot a (new) scam, their number might decrease. But first all translators need to know the signs of scams - a gmail address is not necessarily an indication for scam.

I intend to post a link on all professional sites I'm registered with. Spreading the word and then ignoring scammers is the only way to eliminate them, at least in our profession.

If you can't beat them, don't join them.

[Edited at 2011-12-11 08:52 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Beware homophony Dec 11, 2011

Thayenga wrote:

An American using Pigeon English is always suspicious.


But you can always give them "the bird"!

No seriously, I don't usually call attention to howlers but this one conjured up a nice mental image. I assume you meant "Pidgin English".... (for some of us, US English sometimes falls into this category).


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Isabelle F. BRUCHER  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 20:53
English to French
+ ...
In her standard welcoming email to newcomers Lucia Leszinsky might also add security recommendations Dec 11, 2011

In her standard welcoming email, Lucia Leszinsky might also add the following recommendations:

1. get notified on new subjects created in the Scams forum - and the step by step procedure on how to achieve this as the proz.com website is huge for a newcomer;

2. restrict access to your profile mailbox to only logged-in proz.com members - and the step by step procedure on how to do this.

This welcoming email is sent to all newcomers, so it is key.


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Isabelle F. BRUCHER  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 20:53
English to French
+ ...
it should also be strongly recommended to newcomers to CHOOSE their own customers Dec 11, 2011

And that's why it should also be strongly recommended to newcomers to CHOOSE their own customers and have their agendas filled with orders from chosen customers, so as not to depend on - real or fake - customers who fall on your backs unexpectedly, which always causes some stress anyway.

They should also be indicated the step by step path to finding the web page(s) where to find those customers within the proz.com website.

Their attention should also be attracted to the fact that after the proz.com annual conference at the end of September each year, an email will be sent to them with a link to a proz.com web page containing a list of customers (agencies, mostly) who might be interested in their profiles. If they register to the "Meet customers" day or so, probably.

This will not prevent agencies from recruiting unknown translators for special assignments, but it will decrease translators' vulnerability to fake customers, in my opinion.

"Hungry stomach has no ears", as we say in French...


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:53
German to English
+ ...
Fantastic! Dec 11, 2011

lee roth wrote:

With the precious help from our colleague Enrique Cavallitto , I put together a 20 slides power-point about different schemes that target our community and I intend to present it at the ATA anual and semi-anual conference. If any national translators' association feels that it would be helpful to present it to its members, please just contact me and I gladly will send you the presentation.

Good luck,
Lee


Lee, that's a wonderful idea and very welcome. I would like to have a presentation for the powwow I'm organizing in Tübingen next month, and I can also send it to the main German translation association - BDÜ. I'm not a member, but that doesn't matter because it is of utmost importance that this information gets out before more people are damaged. You not only just handed me the perfect topic for the powwow (scams aimed at translators: how to recognize and deal with them), but a very important tool to spread the word about scams.

That is exactly the type of thing I was hoping for to fight these criminals.

And thanks to Enrique, too, of course.

On edit: added potential new powwow topic title

[Edited at 2011-12-11 12:37 GMT]


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:53
German to English
+ ...
@ Isabelle Dec 11, 2011

You make very good points about reaching new members. I hope the admins see this thread and implement your ideas. Perhaps you could also send them in as suggestions, there is someplace on the site where you can do that, but I would need to leave this screen to find it, losing my message in the process!

They could probably just send out notices to all members, too, warning them about recent translator-targeted scams, announcing the presentation Lee mentions and other helpful related information that is posted on ProZ already - and there is a fair amount now.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:53
English to German
+ ...
Ahem. Slightly off topic. Dec 11, 2011

neilmac wrote:
I assume you meant "Pidgin English".... (for some of us, US English sometimes falls into this category).


For some of us, this kind of English falls into the category Cockney speech.


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