Identity theft - what to do about it?
Thread poster: Sebastian Witte

Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:14
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Mar 26, 2013

Dear fellow translators,

Through an ITI member I learnt this AM I am the victim of someone having stolen my identity,
complete with fake email addresses and a CV looking and reading surprisingly similar to mine, other than being marked by messy formatting.

How can I prevent the con artist or group of con artists from destroying my reputation and, in the long run, my company's business?

Has this happened to anyone of you recently or last year?

Any feedback and ideas are much appreciated.

Best regards

Sebastian Witte
My real email addresses are (the list being exhaustive):
sw(at)jwstrans.net
info(at)jwstrans.net
sebastian.witte(at)arcor.de
wswitte(at)arcor.de
textpartner(at)arcor.de
There is one more GMX address, but I only ever use it in response to inquiries/customer emails when out of the office (very rarely these days), attaching the correspondence, so they will always know it's really me contacting them

[Edited at 2013-03-26 10:57 GMT]


 

Derrio  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Credit agencies/bank Mar 26, 2013

Sebastian,
I note you are in Germany, so I can only give advice on procedures in the UK. This is not strictly related to the translation business side of matters, although I doubt they have assumed your identity to gain translation work and it is more likely they will be using information gleaned in conjunction with other data they already have (possibly bank details).

The most important thing to do would be to contact your bank/police and credit agencies. As I said, I am not sure of the procedure in your country, but in the UK I believe you can flag possible cases of identity theft with the main credit agencies to prevent anyone trying to obtain credit using your details (and ruining your credit rating for years).

The following link may give you some ideas on how to approach it in Germany.

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud_protection/identity_fraud

Note that not everyone will now assume the emails you have listed are your correct ones as people may assume that your account has been accessed by third parties.


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Identity theft of translators Mar 26, 2013

Derrio wrote:

I doubt they have assumed your identity to gain translation work and it is more likely they will be using information gleaned in conjunction with other data they already have (possibly bank details).



There have been cases though of identity theft of translators for the purpose of getting translation work.
Have a search on this forum as I don't recall the exact thread but I know there was a case in which the perpetrators were recently arrested in Barcelona.

The crux of what they did was to use the reputation and profile of a reputable translator to obtain work, then pose as a freelancer needing help (using the same profile of a reputable translator) to get other translators to do the job, hand it in and collect the money and course never pay the translator who actually did the work.
These things are generally uncovered when the translator whose identity was stolen is accused by another translator of not paying, upon which the victim of the identity theft realizes what has happened.


It seems like exactly the same amount of effort required to actually have a genuine business, especially once the risk/reward ratio is taken into account so I still don't get why people would do this but it does happen.

I think that the thing to do is to report it to the police. There may even be a section of the German police dedicated to online/internet-based crime where you can report this.

You don't say exactly in what way you've found out (or your colleague found out) but perhaps they could fish for more information and try to get as many details as possible. Someone somewhere along the line will have to end up paying this person for the scam to work so they'll have to give details at some point that will reveal their identity. They're probably doing this with loads of people and not just you.

If I were you, I'd also contact regular clients just to mention what has happened and ask them to always contact you on one e-mail address of your choosing with regard to work.
They'll also want to avoid working with translators they don't know and paying a criminal for translation work so it's in their interests too.


Good luck!


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:14
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Try to approach this a bit methodically Mar 26, 2013

This is really unfortunate, Sebastian, I hope you can get through this without anything more than "ein blaues Auge". Here are some things I would recommend, but not necessarily in the order I wrote them in. Use your judgement to set priorities. However, the first thing to do would be to figure out exactly what information is being used and how, as far as possible. How did your ITI colleague find out, etc. Keep a list of the fake emails being used to give to law enforcement personnel - they may be able to track down the scammer through the provider info.

1) Call your local police and find out what further steps to take and who to contact to report online identity theft (presumably your CV was stolen from online, maybe even ProZ).

2) Take down your CV anywhere it is accessible online, and send it only on request to verifiable sources (agency, etc.). Obviously, it's too late in this case, but could prevent it from happening again. There are a lot of crooks out there, and some of them have discovered that defrauding translators is easy money.

3) Email all your clients and briefly explain what happened. Maybe by some wild chance the thief will contact them for some reason, and they'll have been informed.

4) Other translators have had their identities stolen for a variety of scams. One is to get a job with your credentials and do machine translations, and who knows what else? There are probably lots of possibilities honest people would never think of.

I'm sure others can give more tips. Even though it's upsetting, just keep a cool head, take all the necessary steps and maybe nothing bad will come out of it.


 

Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:14
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Scam Alert Report Wiki on ProZ.com Mar 26, 2013

Dear Sebastian,

There have been a number of CVs stolen recently.
Since you are a ProZ.com member, you can read about this--and recommendations about what to do about it--at:

http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Translator_scam_alert_reports

Note, also, that you can subscribe to those reports (I'd strongly recommend that you do so--forewarned is forearmed!).

I wish you the best of luck in getting this issue resolved quickly and successfully.


 

accents_ie  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:14
English
+ ...
Regular identical CVs Mar 27, 2013

Apology - I am not an En speaker

From
@ one year+ we receiving a lot of CVs which looks nearly identical (text, layouts etc) -
seems from different translators from different countries but sender;s computer time is shown as +2 hours ahead of GMT or -4 hours. Trying to reply, our emails are gone out but we getting no replies. I call some of these eople by phone numbers they sent and they are real people BUT all used some kind internet mailing service to distribute their CVd around the world. Actually they do not know where their CVs were sent. In many cases field TO: undisclosed recepient/

We deleted all these emails sent (made and distributed) by some kind software or marketing service. Please do not use these kind mailing services. Thank you!


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:14
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
To start with Mar 27, 2013

Hallo Sebastian,

please take a look at this link: http://www.tina-groll.de/Identitaetsdiebstahl/Fragen-Antworten

It might give you an idea as to what you should do next to safeguard yourself against any abuse arising from your stolen data/identity.

Here's another valuable link: https://www.bsi.bund.de/ContentBSI/Presse/Kurzmitteilungen/Kurzmit2010/Studie_Identitaetsdiebstahl_090610.html


Best of luck,

Thayenga

[Edited at 2013-03-27 13:20 GMT]


 

Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:14
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everybody Mar 27, 2013

Very helpful thoughts on the matter indeed

Best

Sebastian


 

Johannes Gleim  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:14
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Hallo Herr Witte, Mar 29, 2013

vielleicht sollte man wirklich seinen Lebenslauf bei Proz.com löschen und ihn nur auf Anforderung versenden. Ich überlege das auch schon die ganze Zeit, bin aber noch nicht dazu gekommen.

 


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