Offered a sizable advance. Dodgy?
Thread poster: ExScientiaVera

ExScientiaVera
Faroe Islands
Local time: 04:25
Danish to English
+ ...
May 11, 2013

I was offered around a 2000 EUR advance on a large Danish to English project, reported as being around 300k words.
The first time I was approached, I turned down the job, because of the back story. Friend of a right hand, favors and such. Thing is, friends doing friends favors like this is not abnormal in the regional business environment. Still, I thought it was an empty offer.
Now though, the guy told me he has had trouble getting translators, and I understand why. I referred him to the guy I currently work for and my boss agreed he wasn't touching it with a ten foot pole. Today, I was offered an advance to be his liaison in this project, to contact agencies to PM the translation and translate part of it myself.
I literally am sitting with around 2000 EURs worth of DKK. I have't said yes and I can give the money back, but I am wondering if this is legit, that the guy is playing a game of politics by handing me the translation and intends to pay in full.

I need feedback here.


 

Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:25
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
In what form are the 2000? May 11, 2013

Are they travelers checks, or a money order? Or something else?

 

Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:25
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Also... May 11, 2013

... do you know for sure whom are you dealing with? Name, address and other verifyable contact details?

 

ExScientiaVera
Faroe Islands
Local time: 04:25
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
In cash and yes May 11, 2013

He handed me the money in large bills. If it were a check or a money order, I would have just turned it down, expecting them to bounce.
My first thoughts, after finding out more about what the back story was, is this guy is trying to impress a minister from Iceland who is visiting. I talked with the minister today, face to face (not an unusual event here) and I know there is a real job being sent out, but I also know they are approaching agencies directly.
I know the full name of this guy, where he lives, (literally down the hill), who his current employer is and where he worked before. I know he is Icelandic and I know he was on the board of an Icelandic bank before the crash. What I don't know is what he would get out of handling this project.


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. May 11, 2013

This story is very difficult to understand.

 

The Misha
Local time: 23:25
Russian to English
+ ...
You make it sound like a Miss Marple's mystery, May 12, 2013

which it probably isn't. I mean, really, what do you care what the guy's game is - it's not like he is selling guns to schoolkids or planning to rob widows and orphans. As a translator, you only need to know this much, and personally I pride myself on not sticking my nose into what doesn't concern me. Tell it to your guy like it is, that this is a large enough chunk of text - which it is - and you are not comfortable doing it all on credit. Arrange for rolling delivery with payment due at the end of each installment. No payment - no next installment. This way the risk you are taking is minimal. If he says no, you walk away. If he is legit and says yes, you make a bundle. That's it.

Unless, of course, the large bills he has given you as an advance are counterfeit - but that's easy enough to check.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Take a chance May 12, 2013

In your position, I'd take The Misha's advice. Do it in chunks and ask for payment that way.
As I understand it, there aren't many translators in your pairs so the offer could feasibly be legit and maybe your client just wants to bag the tender. Just make sure you cover your a... ahem... "potential losses".


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 11:25
Chinese to English
Sounds credible to me May 12, 2013

Scammers aren't bright. 99.999% of scams are screamingly obvious. If this hasn't got the standard warning signs on it, it's probably what it looks like, just a slightly unconventional business deal.

 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 03:25
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Seems fine to me. May 12, 2013

He didn't just "offer" you an advance, he paid out cold hard cash. You know where he lives, you know where he works, you know the job is real. What more do you want? Draft up a purchase order specifying rolling deliveries like The Misha said and get to work.

 

Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
Go for it May 12, 2013

TransAfrique wrote:

He didn't just "offer" you an advance, he paid out cold hard cash. You know where he lives, you know where he works, you know the job is real. What more do you want? Draft up a purchase order specifying rolling deliveries like The Misha said and get to work.


I also agree with The Misha and TransAfrique. I would just take it on and invoice in instalments. If they are not forthcoming, then I'd revise the situation and send him an invoice for the rendered services, etc. and maybe return part of the payment.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just be careful! May 12, 2013

ExScientiaVera wrote:
I referred him to the guy I currently work for and my boss agreed he wasn't touching it with a ten foot pole.

Personally I would have done the same. Accepting money for a job you initially did not want to do is working against your gut feeling and is always risky to do since it clearly ties you down to a project that is bound to be strange and place strange demands on you, to say the least.

A legitimate, sensible customer following normal business practices in the contracting of services (practices that are really simple and anyone can follow) is attractive to any professional translator, and if nobody wanted to work for this person, you should not rest assured that you are smarter than everyone else.

I am always very wary of anyone giving out cash. Just does not smell good. If I were you I would return the money untouched, making sure you have this person sign a receipt declaring that he has received the exact amount in such and such date in cash. Write a short contract or a letter of intention summarising the conditions of the deal, including payment in under 15 days from your invoices, and have it signed by the customer.

Whenever paid in cash, issue a receipt declaring the amount received and on what date, and hand out that to the customer, always keeping a copy for yourself. Also, make sure you take the full amount to your bank immediately to be credited in your usual business account, just as further proof of the exact amount you have been paid. Just document everything, so that there will be no trouble in the long run and you have plenty of evidence should things go wrong and legal action happened (either from you against this person, or viceversa).


 

ExScientiaVera
Faroe Islands
Local time: 04:25
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the advice May 12, 2013

Thanks for the advice.
I decided, if he can't table a document tomorrow, indicating a purchase order from the ministry in Iceland, I am going to give the advance back.
My gut is telling me this is going to end badly for myself if I don't cut this short.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Scam May 12, 2013

ExScientiaVera wrote:

Thanks for the advice.
I decided, if he can't table a document tomorrow, indicating a purchase order from the ministry in Iceland, I am going to give the advance back.
My gut is telling me this is going to end badly for myself if I don't cut this short.


This appears to be some sort of money-laundering scam. Give the money back now, and since the scammer presumably has your bank details, contact your bank ASAP.


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:25
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Landsbanki, perhaps? May 13, 2013

Considering what happened to Iceland's banks, and - strangely enough in this day and age of capitalisation of profits but socialisation of losses - to some of the country's rulers, being an ex-board member (EX!!) of an Icelandic bank is no squeaky-clean credential.

I would get one of those note-checker pens, check every note, and then do the payment-for-instalments bit.

All the best,


Mervyn


 


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