Chinese Ghost Company
Thread poster: David Friemann, MA

David Friemann, MA  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:06
English to German
Jul 17, 2013

Dear all,

I recently had an offer from a potential client apparently based in China.

THE BAD:
He contacted me via ProZ.com, but is not a registered member. I asked for company details, such as a website or a ProZ.com profile. He told me that there was no website so far, but that they would pay me half the money for the first job by PayPal in advance, to show that I could trust them. Ironically, that only increased my suspicions. When I asked for the company my contact works for, he avoided the question and asked they are a supplier for SGS China. When I pressed for an answer, he told me the name of a company I can't find online, try as I might. My contact is using two addresses (one for mailing, one for PayPal), but both of them are from private mail providers.

THE GOOD:
The rates they would be willing to pay are a little below what I would have expected, but no pittance either. They even asked whether I use Trados, which is a very "professional" question I would not expect from a scammer. They have remained in touch even after I started asking "uncomfortable" questions and have given me an address in Shanghai (which I can't verify, of course) that seems to be of an office building, judging from the search results I got.

THE UGLY:
...question: Am I being overly cautious and/or suspicious? Might this be legit and just an example of me misjudging them? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:06
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Too much risk involved Jul 17, 2013

I wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole, because there are just too many loose ends and not enough verifiable information. Have you checked the IP address to see if they are at least located where they say they are? Even if they match, I would still be suspicious. If it is a legitimate client, the entire approach seems very unprofessional, at best.

My ProZ settings don't even allow non-registered users to contact me. No serious company should have a problem registering at ProZ, and if they aren't registered, then I don't think I want to work with them in any case. I may have missed out on some opportunties as a result, but I usually have plenty of work so I'm happy to have another colleague get the job.

Trust your instincts - I think they are sending you the right message: Too dicey!


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
I wouldn't waste any (more) time on this Jul 17, 2013

I don't think it's too much for you to expect a company to have an online presence and verifiable contact details and to expect to be able to verify that your contact person is indeed from the company he says he's from.
If it sounds too dicey to be true, it probably is!

My approach would probably be to explain that I would need full payment in advance to my bank account for the job and that this is my standard procedure for new clients. This is a win-win situation. If they accept, you don't have to worry about payment and if they don't, you don't have to do the job and therefore don't have to worry about payment (but at least in the latter case that will have been their decision and not yours).

I would be slightly wary about accepting payment by paypal because the client has a certain amount of days (I'm not sure how many exactly but I think it's 28) to reclaim the payment based on non-delivery or the goods not being according to the description.
This is fine when it comes to goods. I've sold goods on ebay before and had a client try to claim he didn't receive the goods and all I had to do was to provide the courier company's signed delivery receipt to paypal for his claim to be rejected and the money to be recredited to my account. However, I'm not sure exactly how this would work for less tangible forms of delivery of things such as services.

I would also be suspicious if someone was quick to provide a means of my ascertaining that they were not scammers because I think that only scammers try to prove they are not scammers.


 

Steven Segaert
Estonia
Local time: 07:06
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Gut feeling Jul 17, 2013

At the tender age of 41, I have learned to trust my intuition.

Or in other words, I find that, when things go wrong, upon reflection I have to admit that it really didn't come as a surprise.

If it doesn't feel ok for you, don't do it.


 

Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:06
Turkish to English
+ ...
Proz registration not a prerequisite Jul 17, 2013

Woodstock wrote:


My ProZ settings don't even allow non-registered users to contact me. No serious company should have a problem registering at ProZ, and if they aren't registered, then I don't think I want to work with them in any case. I may have missed out on some opportunties as a result, but I usually have plenty of work so I'm happy to have another colleague get the job.



I have to say that some of my best clients have come to me from sources other than Proz, they aren't registered on Proz and some of them don't even know what it is. Having said that if a client couldn't tell me directly where they got my contact details from, I would be suspicious.


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:06
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Of course, registration is not required Jul 17, 2013

Gül Kaya wrote:

I have to say that some of my best clients have come to me from sources other than Proz, they aren't registered on Proz and some of them don't even know what it is. Having said that if a client couldn't tell me directly where they got my contact details from, I would be suspicious.


but my decision about the settings was made for a number of reasons. For example, I haven't had any suspicious scam offers like the one the opening poster seems to be describing since I changed my ProZ e-mail settings (knock wood), whereas I would get them regularly before that.

ProZ members are free to choose their settings as they please - I'm just explaining my personal choice and the reasons. It's a good thing we have different experiences so our colleagues can read a variety of perspectives and make up their own minds about whether they want to get offers from unregistered users (who could also be scammers) or not.

Edited for clarity.

[Edited at 2013-07-17 12:28 GMT]


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:06
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Ask them... Jul 17, 2013

to pay you in full in advance by PayPal... you have nothing to lose if you are considering not working with the company anyway...

 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:06
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
where they got my contact details from, I would be suspicious. Jul 17, 2013

I had a similar case. Company X told me how they had got hold of my name-that is through another company Y which had originally got the project- company Y must have been in liason with company X as I could not find any BBs for company X; when I contacted company Y, this company showed me BB entries for company X, which I thought was fishy as I could not find any BBs for them, so I decided not to trust them, or trust either as I often get messages to say that company Y wants to chat on gmail. So, trust your gut feelings. Better safe than sorry.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:06
English to Portuguese
+ ...
OOPS! Jul 17, 2013

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

to pay you in full in advance by PayPal... you have nothing to lose if you are considering not working with the company anyway...


PayPal is owned by eBay, and therefore is intended to be used for it.

On eBay, scams are different, in fact, reversed. A scammer would advertise merchandise they don't have, or that they don't intend to deliver. The buyer (in our case, the translation outsourcer) pays first, and then the seller ships the merchandise. If the seller is dishonest, and fails to do so, eBay has the tools in place to reverse the transaction on PayPal. If the seller (in our case the translator) has a verified account, and has already withdrawn the money, PayPal will charge their credit card or bank account to refund the buyer.

So if a scammer pays you via PayPal in advance to deliver the translation within the time span they can claim they never received the goods, it is possible to reverse the PayPal transaction and get the money back... after they received the translation.

Wire transfers, Western Union, and Moneygram are one-way streets. Once you have received the money and cashed in, they can't pull it back.

When Xoom allowed commercial payments, I had a scammer making a payment through them, just to have something to show, to convince me to remove my bad WWA on the Blue Board... and then cancel it two minutes later.


BTW, Xoom is no longer useful for paying translators. If they suspect there might be any business behind a payment, they'll cancel the transaction right away. As their CSR explained, they'll only process transactions between relatives or close friends, no business allowed whatsoever.


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:06
Member (2004)
English to Italian
yes, you are right... Jul 18, 2013

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

to pay you in full in advance by PayPal... you have nothing to lose if you are considering not working with the company anyway...


PayPal is owned by eBay, and therefore is intended to be used for it.

On eBay, scams are different, in fact, reversed. A scammer would advertise merchandise they don't have, or that they don't intend to deliver. The buyer (in our case, the translation outsourcer) pays first, and then the seller ships the merchandise. If the seller is dishonest, and fails to do so, eBay has the tools in place to reverse the transaction on PayPal. If the seller (in our case the translator) has a verified account, and has already withdrawn the money, PayPal will charge their credit card or bank account to refund the buyer.

So if a scammer pays you via PayPal in advance to deliver the translation within the time span they can claim they never received the goods, it is possible to reverse the PayPal transaction and get the money back... after they received the translation.

Wire transfers, Western Union, and Moneygram are one-way streets. Once you have received the money and cashed in, they can't pull it back.

When Xoom allowed commercial payments, I had a scammer making a payment through them, just to have something to show, to convince me to remove my bad WWA on the Blue Board... and then cancel it two minutes later.


BTW, Xoom is no longer useful for paying translators. If they suspect there might be any business behind a payment, they'll cancel the transaction right away. As their CSR explained, they'll only process transactions between relatives or close friends, no business allowed whatsoever.


thank you for pointing it out...


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 12:06
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
ProZ Jul 22, 2013

It is perfectly possible for Chinese companies to have some ProZ presence, but no actual account. I would think it fairly unlikely for them to not have a website, however.

 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:06
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
It might be a legit offer Jul 22, 2013

The argument that a company which doesn't have a website must be a scammer is weak.

 

Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:06
Member (2010)
English to French
other ghosts.. Jul 23, 2013

Hello

I saw an interesting Proz ad about a scientific matter. There was work for 2 or 3 months. I was qualified for this offer.

I noticed there was no company name, no address/country, no website, a non-paying email address and the user was not registered at Proz.

I was very surprised; I told the outsourcer that I wanted the full information or a very big prepaid.

I found information on LinkedIn, she was a kind of freelance communication consultant, country unclear..

In parallel I asked complement of information to Proz support about this ad.

Proz support answered that the offer was absolutely OK, that the user gave the information to Proz but requested it not to be displayed to Proz members with the ad!!

I am still wondering whether this was pear or cheese..


[Edited at 2013-07-23 08:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-07-23 08:34 GMT]


 


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