Trustworthy or not?
Thread poster: Wouthan (X)

Wouthan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:49
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Jan 28, 2015

I keep receiving request on translation jobs from people I do not know nor where they have got my email address. It's always urgent. I am very suspicious that this might be some kind of scam. What do you think?
I have copy and pasted 2 email below:

Yesterday I (foolishly) replied on one anohter email. A guy had an translation-requests personally for me, and today he want to know the cost for the job. One thing I find suspicious is the text to be translated. Its a resume (6700 words) for an 20 years old book about the Bermuda Triangle by Charles Berlitz.

Should I trust this person?
Is it common parctice to ask for payment in advance? .
..if so, how much?

Email 1:

"Good afternoon,

I need this attached translated and revised English-Norwegian for this next Monday 26th January 2015 before 10am Central European Time the latest.


Working with SDL Trados or Wordfast: (1) Please import the bilingual file attached into Trados or Wordfast and translate it. If this file is not available, please import directly the source file and translate it. (2) After finishing translation and carrying out spell check with appropiate software and self-check according to instructions, please deliver the bilingual file (BAK, TTX or XLIFF), an extract of the TM with the complete translation and the "clean" file, i.e. file with the translated text in source format Contents must be identical in all 3 formats, i. e. any last minute changes or editing must be included in the 3 files.


1) Please, return review report properly filled-in (with translation and TM files)

I can pay you 49.00 EUR. Fast payment via PayPal possible. In case you don’t agree with the price and/or the deadline I will ask you to let me know as soon as possible about your best offer of price and/or deadline and I will think about it and see what I can do and if we can still reach an agreement and I can finally confirm you this job. In case you invoice from any EU country different from Spain I will need a valid EU VAT number in your invoice.

Please let me know if you have any question or doubt before you make a start.

I will wait your fast confirmation that you can do it.

Don’t start until you receive my final reconfirmation and my complete invocing details. Thank you very much.

Best regards,"

Email 2 (Note: my name is NOT Pavel)

Hello Pavel,

I hope you are having a great dayicon_smile.gif

I have a new order for translation and I want to confirm your availability to take care of this project.

Attached documents would have to be translated into Norwegian for today asap.

Please confirm your availability to translate it.

Best regards,

[Edited at 2015-01-28 11:45 GMT]


Tony M
Local time: 20:49
French to English
+ ...
Not necessarily dishonest Feb 3, 2015

What makes these message seem more genuine than many scam attempts is the level of (plausible) detail about the translation, and the fact that they are offering paymùent via PayPal.

I think the first e-mail at least might well be a genuine offer, from someone whose native language is not EN, hence the slightly awkward wording in places.

It is not unusual (though in my view is unprofessional!) for people to get your name wrong! They often use and re-use a standard letter, but forget to change certain details — like the name.

Already, if they gave correctly specified the manguage pair AND it is a pair you work in, that is a promising sign.

Of course, your decision to work for them or not will be based on your own business assessment of the proposition; generally, I feel awkward about asking for payment in advance; there has to be an element of mutual trust in this sort of transaction — after all, the customer could send you and advance payment, and you not send any sort of translation — or a bad one!

Personally, in this sort of situation, with a relatively small amount of money involved, my own business decision would be to take the risk, knowing that at worst I will lose an hour or so's work. Were a greater volume to be involved, then you might feel a certain percentage downpayment was justified; personally, I have reached the stage in my career where I no longer bother to do this, except in the special case where a project is destined to run over several months, in which case, I ask for stage âyments at the end of each month — assuming, of course I have delivered approximately one month's worth of work!

One tip I have found helpful is to look at the text they send, and note:

1) is it readily available on the 'Net (try Googling on a short key phrase) — if so, that's a warning sign, and in any case, I would not start work until I had written confirmation that this customer had permission from the author / publisher to have the work translated.

2) Look at the END of the text: very many of the scams I have received have a piece of text that has simply been truncated in mid sentence, which is a sure sign that it is not honest!


Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another note Feb 3, 2015

You could also double check the origin of the email by tracing the sender's IP address.

It doesn't always mean that an email is legitimate or not, but it can help.

Here's a simple guide on how to find and track the IP address, in case you don't already know how:


Paul Malone  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:49
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Ask them to pay up front. Feb 3, 2015

I personally would see no reason to extend credit in this case, any more than I would lend money to a complete stranger.

You ask whether you should trust this person (or these people). You also say that you don't know them.

I would not lend money to or give credit to someone I've never met or heard of without at least some evidence of creditworthiness (e.g. the Blue Board on this site). Nor would I expect any other credible business or business person to do the same for me.

In this particular case, I would simply ask for payment with the order. I don't believe that an honest company or individual acting in good faith would find that unreasonable. If they are dishonest, you may not hear from them again.

I believe that in our capacity as freelancer translators we are running small businesses, and that we should therefore behave like business people.


Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Short reply, to the point Feb 4, 2015

I usually check the name of the person/company, give them my standard rate and ask for prepayment.

Most of them are "disuaded" or say "yes" but equally dissappear.

The above applies to potential "end clients" I do not know.

It also happens that an LSP (here agency) contacts me to check availability. I look at blue board and if positive, I just follow the process (NDA + other papers, etc.). I actually got quite a few customers this way. They all come through ProZ (which reassures me a bit).

[Edited at 2015-02-05 09:39 GMT]


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:49
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Typo? Feb 5, 2015

Wouthan wrote:

... One thing I find suspicious is the text to be translated. Its a resume (6700 words) for an 20 years old book about the Bermuda Triangle by Charles Berlitz.

....I can pay you 49.00 EUR. Fast payment via PayPal possible. project.

A payment of 49.00 Euros for 6,700 words renders a rate of EUR 0.0073 per word. For a rush job with additional requirements (3 file types)! Deducting the PayPal fees, you're lucky if you get EUR 0.0055 per source word. Additionally, he wants an extract of the TM which is supposed to contain the complete translation. Maybe he should first make up his mind.icon_eek.gif Red flags all over.


Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Great day? I don't think so. Feb 5, 2015

Wouthan wrote:

Email 2 (Note: my name is NOT Pavel)

Hello Pavel,

I hope you are having a great dayicon_smile.gif

As a matter of principle, people who say things like "have a great day" are always ignored by me. Especially if they add a smiley.


Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:49
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
49.00 EUR Feb 5, 2015

Please make sure you are aware of acceptable rates in your language pair. Unless your translations are total garbage, you should be able to charge at least 0.10 per word for Norwegian. EUR 49.00 is not even a minimum charge.


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