Newly registered, fully paid member, verified identity - trying to scam people?
Thread poster: Katalin Horváth McClure

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:26
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Nov 15, 2012

I have a support request submitted about this, so the suspect may disappear from the site soon, but in case somebody received contact and continued off-site I thought I should post an alert.
This person contacted me via the ProZ messaging system - you know, the little envelope-icon on top.
He just registered in November, paid for full professional membership, and got his identity verified on Nov 13. Other than that, his profile is completely empty.
Here is our conversation, I think it is pretty clear why I am suspicious.
(I will use bold font to emphasize the red flags.)

Message Received 14:05 Nov 14, 2012
Send message through ProZ.com [***user name deleted from here***]:
Need Japanese translator
Hello,

I'm looking for a professional/certified translator.
I need the translation of many documents / texts for my work, while only about 35K-50K words.
I am interested in your specificity: Management, Medical.
My rates is $0.17-0.25 per word also possible per-minute/hourly pay.
Payment can be made every Tuesday on PayPal/Moneybooker accounts or by bank wire.
Let me know if you are ready to take my project.

Regards,

[***name deleted from here***]

My reply:
RE: Need Japanese translator
Hi ******,
You did not specify the exact language pair.
Do you need English to Japanese, or Japanese to English, or something else?
Katalin

Message Received 14:50 Nov 14, 2012
Send message through ProZ.com [***user name deleted from here***]:
RE: RE: Need Japanese translator
Hello again,
Now only Japanese to English.

My reply:
RE: RE: RE: Need Japanese translator
OK, can you send me samples of what you need translated? Also could you provide some more information on who you are? Your profile page is completely empty.
Katalin


Message Received 18:45 Nov 14, 2012
Send message through ProZ.com [***user name deleted from here***]:
RE: RE: RE: RE: Need Japanese translator
Hello again!
I just freelancer with many documents:)
I'll give you a sample of the documents, but first I need to learn a little bit about you.
I agree to pre-paid the project.
Are you ready for a little test, the size of 30-40 words?
Can you send me your CV and certificate(if have)?
Your timezone is a constant GMT 1?

My email: ***********@yahoo.com

Regards,

[***name deleted from here***]

My reply:
Hi ******,
Please provide me with your mailing address so I can send copies of my certificates. Also, please provide a phone number so we can discuss the details.
Thank you
Katalin

Message Received 20:15 Nov 14, 2012
Send message through ProZ.com [***user name deleted from here***]:
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Need Japanese translator
My email: **********@yahoo.com
( 1)510275****
timezone: EST


My reply:
There seems to be a mistake: that phone number is listed as a California phone number, so you meant PST timezone (not EST).

Please tell me your mailing address so I could send you my standard contact form and also the certificates you asked for.

Thanks
Katalin
***********************
This is how far the conversation went last night.
Since then, silence.

I guess you can see the contradictory information, the level of English, the relatively high rate offered with prepaying (!!!).
What really bothers me is that if this person is really a scammer, that means he actually paid for membership, just to get access to people.
Or, and it is also possible, the credit card he used for the payment and also for the ID verification is actually stolen, so he is operating under a fake identity.
I hope ProZ staff looks into it ASAP, but in the meantime, please be aware of such suspicious activities.

[Edited at 2012-11-15 17:46 GMT]


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:26
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Same modus operandi Nov 15, 2012

Yes, I have also had such an approach in the last few days from an empty profile registered this month. I didn't extend the conversation very far and took it as spam. Glad you've sent off a support ticket. It came too late at night for me to do so.

[Edited at 2012-11-15 17:29 GMT]


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:26
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Profile blocked Nov 15, 2012

Thank you, Katalin!

In the meantime, profile has been blocked.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:26
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Blocked? Nov 15, 2012

Natalie wrote:

Thank you, Katalin!

In the meantime, profile has been blocked.


What does it mean?
I can see the profile, I could send him email or ProZ message if I wanted to.
Or is he prevented from sending messages?
How about his access to profiles, for example to harvest resumes?


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:26
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Blocked means exactly blocked Nov 15, 2012

He cannot contact anyone or do anything else using the profile.


What does it mean?
I can see the profile, I could send him email or ProZ message if I wanted to.

Blocked does not mean removed.

N.

[Edited at 2012-11-15 17:56 GMT]


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:26
Member
French to English
+ ...
Scammers paying for membership Nov 15, 2012

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

What really bothers me is that if this person is really a scammer, that means he actually paid for membership, just to get access to people.


This is certainly not the first time we've had this situation Katalin; it seems astonishing that scammers will bother paying for membership — though you may have hit the nail on the head there when you say perhaps they are using stolen credit cards!

The verified ID issue is also worrying; it looks as if ProZ.com is maybe going to have to tighten up those procedures, there is clearly something wrong if such a scammer can get their identity verified — since we know that most of these people are never who they claim to be. If someone joins using a stolen credit card, and then the same card is used to verify their identity, then clearly this verification is not worth a thing. It looks as if a more rigorous procedure is now called for...


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:26
Member
French to English
+ ...
Blocked? Nov 15, 2012

Natalie wrote:

He cannot contact anyone or do anything else using the profile.



Yes, but I think Katalin's question was more along the lines of "can he still consult other people's profiles?" — if so, as she so rightly says, it is very easy to just harvest details from them, as we have seen in other kinds of recent scam involving the pirating of CVs etc.

If this is the case, then I would urge siite staff to take urgent damage-limitation action.


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:26
German to English
+ ...
Yes, the profile is still there. Nov 15, 2012

I got an email from the same person (WM?) yesterday, only asking for German-English.

I wrote back saying I would need a lot more information from him before deciding whether I'm interested or not.

Haven't heard back of course.


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:26
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
@ Trudy Nov 15, 2012

Yes, WM, German-English for me, too.

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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:26
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Identity verification issue Nov 15, 2012

Tony M wrote:

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

What really bothers me is that if this person is really a scammer, that means he actually paid for membership, just to get access to people.


The verified ID issue is also worrying; it looks as if ProZ.com is maybe going to have to tighten up those procedures, there is clearly something wrong if such a scammer can get their identity verified — since we know that most of these people are never who they claim to be. If someone joins using a stolen credit card, and then the same card is used to verify their identity, then clearly this verification is not worth a thing. It looks as if a more rigorous procedure is now called for...


That's what I am saying.
The FAQ says:

2) The other way to get your identity verified is to make a credit card purchase using a card that carries the same name that is entered in your profile page. If you purchase site membership or training at the website, your identity will be verified automatically if all the conditions are met (see 9.7 below).


Yes, I think this is a problem.
I am not sure how to resolve it in the system so it would not hurt other, genuine people, but in this particular case, if I were ProZ, I would call the credit card company's fraud department and warn them about the card number. They could contact the real owner of the card and clarify what is going on. I know these fraud departments are prepared to investigate cases where the merchant (in this case ProZ) points out suspicious activity.
Katalin


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:26
Member
French to English
+ ...
Scams becoming a little more sophisticated Nov 15, 2012

I must say, this is a little more sophisticated than your average scam.

One of the immediate red flags I'd normally expect to see is an insistence on paying by cheque, but this person is offering bank transfer or PayPal/Moneybookers. Why are payments only made on Tuesdays, I wonder? Perhaps it's one of those extra little details used to "flesh out" a scenario and make it look more genuine.

But then there's this: "It's only about 35K-50K words..." (!) And then the reluctance to provide a sample. Not the most specific job offer I've ever seen!

That said, this person has clearly gone to some trouble to learn a little about the translation business, given some of the things mentioned in the email - such as the test, specialisms and so on. Obviously the job offer is still suspiciously thin on detail, but it's more than your average scammer would bother to mention. And becoming a paying member would seem to be a deliberate ploy to allay a scam-savvy freelancer's fears. Slowly but surely, they're getting a bit better!


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xxxchristela
Become sophisticated? Nov 16, 2012

Peter Shortall wrote:

Scams becoming a little more sophisticated



They already are. The person who scammed me six years ago was an ATA member and paying member of several organizations and social websites. A real person, knew everything about the translation industry, accepted MY rates, sent a PO and lots of promises.
I cannot complain at proz because this person avoided this website (people are too keen here).
Paid membership is not a guarantee. And why a scammer who expects thousands of bucks should be withheld by €100 or so?


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