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Newbie - detecting scams?
Thread poster: Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 2, 2016

I have been contacted twice this week, asking to complete translation jobs. I'm recently returning to translation, only having worked previously as a subcontractor for an agency. I am not sure where the clients got my email (and have requested they furnish that information, yet without a response), and am concerned about both being scams.

First request from a "Finni Wilson" who claims to be in Canada for a "peace keeping mission seminar", but agreed to my price quote, and says his/her "accountant will issue a check for the full amount". Knowing the sort of scam that issues a check over the requested price, then requests the extra money be returned, only to find the check bounces.... I am waiting to see if a check arrives and clears before beginning work. The inclusion of the "peace keeping mission seminar" information seems consistent with those scams.

Second request is from a Vicente Aviles, a substantial job on terrorism. When I googled the reply email, one result links to a service that writes term papers for students. This person says he will pay with a cashier's check, again causing concern.

When looking at both requests, I wonder if this is one of those outfits that produces term papers for students, and I have been identified as someone who can translate said term papers into Spanish.

From the experts - what sort of payment conditions should I require? Should I be sending them my CV, or will they steal that, as I have seen in some earlier posts on ProZ?

Thank you for any and all advice.
Claire


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 21:30
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
What smells like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck... Mar 3, 2016

Both have all the red flags... I don't accept payments by cheque (only wire transfer) and I always require advance payment from a first client for a substantial job (at least 30%).

[Edited at 2016-03-03 17:27 GMT]


 

Natalie Soper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:30
French to English
+ ...
Fishy Mar 3, 2016

They both sound a little strange, especially that they both asked for cheques. I would see what they say if you say that you don't accept cheques, and suggest a wire/paypal transfer. It's usually good to trust your gut feelings with things like this!

 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:30
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Not with a 10-foot pole Mar 3, 2016

ziamandc wrote:

I am waiting to see if a check arrives and clears before beginning work.



Bad idea, if by "clears", you mean that your bank says you can now access the funds.
In all likelihood your bank honor the check and tell you the funds are available to you *before* they actually receive the money from the other bank (if it even exists), a process than can otherwise take weeks. When the check eventually bounces, as it always does, your bank will hold you responsible anyway, even if they told you the money was there. A bank transfer is the only non-recovable form of payment.

You've probably realized that the scaminess of the multi-person check sending loop speaks for itself.
As for term papers, why would students need term papers translated into Spanish, unless they are plagiarizing English term papers? Is that the kind of work you want to be associated with?

The wisest move is to just let these go and look for better opportunities.


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:30
Member
English to Italian
Checks Mar 3, 2016

If they're so willing to send checks (before you deliver your work? For the entire amount?), why don't you try asking them for an advance payment instead? Wire transfer or even PayPal. Anyone should be basically able to arrange that...

Also, speaking of checks... Did you check the full headers of both emails (including the senders' IPs)?


 

Enrique Cavalitto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:30
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
Advance payment scam Mar 3, 2016

Hi Claire,

Both cases look like instances of the advance payment scam.

I suggest that you read the information in the translators scam alert center and the associated wiki pages.

For a simple and effective policy against scammers, you should read Alejandro's blog article on A silver bullet against translation scammers.


From the experts - what sort of payment conditions should I require?


Please note that your first (and most important) line of protection will not arise from payment conditions, but from verifying the identity of the unknown entity contacting you with a business proposal.

Regards,
Enrique


 

Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:30
English to Czech
+ ...
Come on... Mar 3, 2016

...it has SCAM written all over it.
No need to wait for anything, just delete and forget. You already wasted way too much time on them by writing this post, or writing to them or just thinking about them for more than a milisecond.
It's interesting though how you were instantly spotted as a newbie, and where they got your address, if you're really sure you haven't provided it to them inadvertently. I remember being myself contacted by those crooks shortly after I started translating from EN (and included it in my profiles), they tried it only 2-3 times and after being ignored, gave up. But maybe they have some ways to identify "newcomers", like scanning for newly added languages in profiles they can communicate in...? But still the question how they got your email remains (I was stupid and had it in my CV - available for download all over internet... but I got wiser since thenicon_biggrin.gif).


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Check the ProZ Article Knowledgebase Mar 3, 2016

Red flags: things to watch out for when dealing with clients:
http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/3616/1/Red-flags:-a-few-things-to-watch-out-for-when-dealing-with-clients

ProZ.com series on Risk Management: Scammers who steal translations:
http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/3613/1/ProZ.com-series-on-Risk-Management:-Scammers-who-steal-translations

Ces arnaqueurs qui volent vos traductions (article in French):
http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/3619/1/Ces-arnaqueurs-qui-volent-vos-traductions


ziamandc wrote:



 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
German to English
Ignore most unsolicited offers Mar 3, 2016

You have to ask yourself why you've received an unsolicited offer. Were you recommended by a colleague or previous customer? Did it come from an agency that has your CV? Does the offer mention a particular reason you were chosen (knowledge of nano technology, expertise in tropical parasites)? Most scams target translators at random, as they're sent out en-masse irrespective of the potential victim's expertise or even language combination. Ignore all generic offers.

Unless an offer provides a ready means of identifying the source (web address, telephone number, verifiable e-mail address), you're better off deleting the e-mail without any further thought. If the unsolicited e-mail does contain this information, then due diligence is in order. For a start, check the header information, use a Google search to verify the telephone number and address.


 

Carolina Garrido  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:30
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
Is it this document? Mar 3, 2016

ziamandc wrote:

Second request is from a Vicente Aviles, a substantial job on terrorism. When I googled the reply email, one result links to a service that writes term papers for students. This person says he will pay with a cashier's check, again causing concern.

Claire


I got a message from someone with a Spanish name as well, not from Proz but directly from my webpage. The subject was TRANSLATION JOB!!!!! and immediately got my alarm bells ringing, and the text, though correct, is too vague:

Hello, I have two documents to be translated from ENGLISH > SPANISH, total word for both documents is 43,102 words. 13,988 words for the first document and 31,700 words for the second document, if interested you can get back to me on (XXXXXXX@gmail.com) for more details.

To me it sounded strange that someone would decide to offer me a job that size without any questions or giving any details. I wrote to Proz, however, and they said it didn't look like a scam. So I wrote back to the guy and asked for more information and this is what I got:

Hello Carolina​​, Thanks for your response and availability. I have two documents to be translated​ as part of my project and I am been instructed to translate the articles into Spanish​. I have one of the article ready while the other one is still under review.

​Below are the details for the first document that is ready for translation while the second document is still under review and it will be sent to you as soon as its ready but i want quote for the 2 documents which has 45,688 words as the payment will be issued together to avoid delay when the document is ready.

DOCUMENT 1:

Title: Terrorism
Number of words: 13,988
Deadline: 28th April 2016.
Mode of Payment: ​Cashiers Check
Audience : General Public

A copy of the Terrorism document is attached,

Kindly email me with the quote per word and the total charges for both documents using 13,988 words for the first document and 31,700 words for the second document. Also attach your C.V for review.

Remember i want your quote to be based on 45,688 words.

The document is copied and pasted from some Terrorism pages. To me it still sounds like a scam.

Now that I see your message I was wondering if the one you received is similar.

Sorry about all the edits and the bold type, I can't seem to make the HTML work for me today!



[Edited at 2016-03-03 22:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-03-03 22:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-03-03 22:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-03-03 22:48 GMT]


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:30
Member
English to French
Common sense Mar 4, 2016

Kevin Fulton wrote:
You have to ask yourself why you've received an unsolicited offer. Were you recommended by a colleague or previous customer? Did it come from an agency that has your CV? Does the offer mention a particular reason you were chosen (knowledge of nano technology, expertise in tropical parasites)? Most scams target translators at random, as they're sent out en-masse irrespective of the potential victim's expertise or even language combination. Ignore all generic offers.

Unless an offer provides a ready means of identifying the source (web address, telephone number, verifiable e-mail address), you're better off deleting the e-mail without any further thought. If the unsolicited e-mail does contain this information, then due diligence is in order. For a start, check the header information, use a Google search to verify the telephone number and address.

That we're still having discussions about this old trick, 20 years after the rise of Internet, never ceases to amaze me.
Obviously, it's still lucrative!

Philippe


 

Claire Ziamandanis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Enrique Mar 4, 2016



Please note that your first (and most important) line of protection will not arise from payment conditions, but from verifying the identity of the unknown entity contacting you with a business proposal.

Regards,
Enrique


I have only worked as a subcontractor before, so this information is invaluable to me. I was focused on setting up payment methods, but first I need to verify the client's identity.


 

Claire Ziamandanis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Katarzyna Mar 4, 2016

Katarzyna Slowikova wrote:

...it has SCAM written all over it.
No need to wait for anything, just delete and forget. You already wasted way too much time on them by writing this post, or writing to them or just thinking about them for more than a milisecond.
It's interesting though how you were instantly spotted as a newbie, and where they got your address, if you're really sure you haven't provided it to them inadvertently. I remember being myself contacted by those crooks shortly after I started translating from EN (and included it in my profiles), they tried it only 2-3 times and after being ignored, gave up. But maybe they have some ways to identify "newcomers", like scanning for newly added languages in profiles they can communicate in...? But still the question how they got your email remains (I was stupid and had it in my CV - available for download all over internet... but I got wiser since thenicon_biggrin.gif).


Yes, it reeked of scam, but I am just learning how to get my name out to potential clients. In fact, both of my kids were caught in similar scams, one the "Mystery Shopper", and the other with a check larger than the agreed upon amount. I have yet to see checks from either "client", but the quick and responsive feedback here confirms my gut suspicion.

Interesting too that CV online are not a good thing.


 

Claire Ziamandanis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Teresa Mar 4, 2016

Teresa Borges wrote:

Both have all the red flags... I don't accept payments by cheque (only wire transfer) and I always require advance payment from a first client for a substantial job (at least 30%).

[Edited at 2016-03-03 17:27 GMT]


Advance payment from a first client - good to know!


 

Claire Ziamandanis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great links Mar 4, 2016



Thank you for taking the time to pass along the links.


 
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