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Proliferation of fake profiles/ Identity theft
Thread poster: Libero_Lang_Lab

Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:28
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
Nov 7, 2017

Hi there,
As owner of a small but popular and well-established translation agency, I am used to receiving lots of emails/CVs/unsolicited requests for collaboration. I have always welcomed these - we are always keen to expand our database - and very occasionally they lead to fruitful collaborations (we are very picky). However, I have noticed in the last year or so that we have been receiving, on a daily basis, applications from translators who are clearly bogus; or more precisely, applications from people who have stolen the CVs of real translators - presumably downloaded from sites like ProZ, and then cobbled together cover emails that are clearly false. I have become fairly expert in spotting these, but it also means that I tend to err on side of caution, and ignore/delete far more emails from prospective translators than I used to. This is a shame for real linguists, but I cannot take the chance of getting embroiled with bogus practitioners.

I don't get the sense that ProZ are doing that much to take a stand against this. Maybe I am wrong. I think there needs to be more discussion about this phenomenon, as it is truly pernicious, and clearly on the up.

Dan


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:28
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Spamcop Nov 7, 2017

I would suggest that you create a Spamcop account and forward such bogus emails to Spamcop so that they are reported as spammers.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:28
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Face-to-face Nov 7, 2017

You could always ask the translators you're interested in working with for a Skype interview. Usually these criminals shy away from being seen.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:28
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Hear hear Nov 7, 2017

Libero_Lang_Lab wrote:
I don't get the sense that ProZ are doing that much to take a stand against this. Maybe I am wrong. I think there needs to be more discussion about this phenomenon, as it is truly pernicious, and clearly on the up.

The onus shouldn't be on you alone. It would be more than helpful if ProZ.com were to provide a secure way for us to display our CVs. I've taken certain measures with mine: it's a scanned PDF with usage limitations and a watermark. But I really don't know how much of a deterrent that is, and I don't really see why I should need to go to such lengths to protect my CV here. I'm sure the site could do numerous better things to protect our data from misuse.

On the other hand, it amazes me to see that some translators are uploading unprotected Word documents containing their full postal address, telephone number, and an email address that will be readable by every bot in town. That does seem to be akin to playing with fire.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:28
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Yes but Nov 7, 2017

Thayenga wrote:
You could always ask the translators you're interested in working with for a Skype interview. Usually these criminals shy away from being seen.

I'm not sure I shy away from being seen , but I certainly shy away from Skype interviews.

Sending a brief note through our ProZ.com profile would confirm that we do in fact use the email address that the client has received, and that we do own the CV. If we don't reply, then it's clearly not something to pursue - scammer or not. If we have no idea of what's going on then the client is forewarned and, equally importantly, so is the legitimate owner of the CV.


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The Misha
Local time: 14:28
Russian to English
+ ...
But why, Sponge Bob? Nov 7, 2017

This entire "resume theft" business has always left me puzzled. I mean, come on, why bother? Wouldn't it be easier to just make up your own fake credentials to put on the resume? Most of this stuff is not easily verifiable anyway.

Second, even assuming people deliberately embellish their track records to get jobs they are not qualified for, how do they even expect this to work? There are plenty of folks on here claiming all sorts of things. Some of them even claim to be native speakers of what should at best be their source language, but all it takes for everyone to see through this claptrap is for them to open their mouths. Who do they think they are kidding? After all, ours is an "utrom stul'ya - vecherom dengi" kind of business. If they produce apparent garbage, you just don't pay them, fake credentials or not, and never use them again. Or am I missing something here?

Disclaimer: I am definitely NOT a fake profile (I have too much of a mouth on me for that:))), so if you want to talk business, let's talk business. But consider yourself warned: I am fairly picky too:)))))


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:28
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Agreed Nov 7, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Sending a brief note through our ProZ.com profile would confirm that we do in fact use the email address that the client has received, and that we do own the CV. If we don't reply, then it's clearly not something to pursue - scammer or not. If we have no idea of what's going on then the client is forewarned and, equally importantly, so is the legitimate owner of the CV.


Very good way to verify someone's identity.


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Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:28
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
ProZ Nov 7, 2017

As someone who has paid into the ProZ system for many years, first as translator and latterly as an outsourcer, I'd like to see them setting out clear and robust actions for safeguarding their paying subscribers against fakers and fraudsters, who are clearly 'mining' sites such as Proz.com for CVs and profiles.

Clearly the proliferation of this kind of activity, which I believe to be engineered by organised 'syndicates', shows that it is to some degree profitable. It will only continue to increase unless counter-measures are taken.

So Henry et al - speak up - what are you planning to do to make the information uploaded here safer from those who seek to defraud and scam?


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Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:28
English to Czech
+ ...
Translator Scammers Directory Nov 7, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Sending a brief note through our ProZ.com profile would...


How would the receiver of such CV know what "our" ProZ profile is?
The names in the CV's (except when the scammer is extremely lazy) are mostly made up. It would require quite an investigation to trace a real translator from the information in the CV (which may even be a couple of CV's stitched together).

Imho the easiest and fastest option is to forward those emails, together with attachments, to one of the email addresses you find on http://www.translator-scammers.com/contacts.php. They will know what to do with them and warn affected translators (or at least I hope so).

@Libero_Lang_Lab: please forward the emails and have a look at the website if you want to know more about this scam or look up the addresses or names from the received emails/CV's in the directory before you forward the emails. Surely not all of them will be new.

[Edited at 2017-11-07 16:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-11-07 18:36 GMT]


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Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:28
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Scammers use real IDs Nov 7, 2017

Katarzyna Slowikova wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Sending a brief note through our ProZ.com profile would...


How would the receiver of such CV know what "our" ProZ profile is?
The names in the CV's (except when the scammer is extremely lazy) are mostly made up. It would require quite an investigation to trace a real translator from the information in the CV (which may even be a couple of CV's stitched together).

Imho the easiest and fastest option is to forward those emails, together with attachments, to translator.scammers@gmail.com / mail@translator-scammers.com. They will know what to do with them and warn affected translators (or at least I hope so).

@Libero_Lang_Lab: please forward the emails. If you want to know everything about this scam, have a look at http://www.translator-scammers.com. You can also try to look up the addresses or names from the received emails/CV's in the directory, surely not all of them will be new.

[Edited at 2017-11-07 16:35 GMT]


I can assure you, as I've received quite a lot of offers from people claiming to be translators who I already work with, that there is a regular practice of stealing the IDs and CVs of real linguists. It makes such offers look more plausible at first glance. To give you a general idea of how big a problem this is, I'd guess I receive 3-6 such emails every day.


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 15:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Suggestion Nov 7, 2017

I agree with the OP that the onus is very much on Proz to be proactive in combating this problem. We must concede, however, that Proz is not especially well placed to detect instances of ID theft and CV plagiarism. The site is no doubt a source of data that can be used fraudulently, but it cannot reasonably be expected to detect the subsequent abuse.

Proz servers already dispatch huge numbers of e-mail notifications every day to users (both paying and non-paying): Kudoz, forum, jobs etc. etc. I see no reason why they cannot detect each hit on the links to our CVs and send an automatic e-mail to the profile owner informing them simply: "Your CV was downloaded to IP 123 nnn nnn nnn, currently registered to country ZZZ, at date/time dd/mm/yyyy hh:nn:ss".

In association with those alerts, the site could - with the support of site users - build up and maintain a "known risk" list of IPs known to harbour (or have recently harboured) dodgy CV collectors – for example, those seen harvesting large numbers of CVs in rapid succession (detected directly by activity monitoring on the Proz servers) or known to have been plagiarised (identified with feedback from victims, and agencies such as OP). These could be highlighted in the e-mail alerts to users. Site users who are able to correlate a CV download with the subsequent detection of a case of ID fraud, plagiarism of their CV on another website, or other misdeed, should be encouraged to give feedback to Proz so as to reinforce the effectiveness of the tool. If we want to reduce the abuse, we must be prepared to "do our bit" to help.

The existence of any such monitoring/alert tool should be announced prominently on the site.

If instant alerts risk generating server overload, it would be sufficient to dispatch regular summaries (daily, weekly, ...) to each profile owner, since the "need to know" is not especially urgent. Like everything else on the site, the reception of CV download alerts should be an "opt-in" feature.

It wouldn't solve all the problems, but would be a step in the right direction. If nothing else, it would give Proz a means to study the scale of the problem, and gauge the interest amongst site users in contributing to the task of combating abuse; all that with a view to deciding on a long-term, proactive campaign against identity theft and CV plagiarism.


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 15:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not a good idea Nov 7, 2017

Thayenga wrote:

You could always ask the translators you're interested in working with for a Skype interview. Usually these criminals shy away from being seen.


That is arbitrary and discriminatory. Consider for example, a translator who declines a Skype interview saying their Internet connection is too slow to support it. Does that imply (s)he is a criminal? Of course not! Nor, of course, does it means (s)he isn't...

RL

PS: As I hit "send" to dispatch this note, my so-called "wideband" mobile connection here in the foothills of the Southern Andes is running in "EDGE" mode, at less than 32 kbit/s. I used to have a racing pigeon that moved faster than that!


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Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:28
English to Czech
+ ...
NO TITLE Nov 7, 2017

Libero_Lang_Lab wrote:

I can assure you, as I've received quite a lot of offers from people claiming to be translators who I already work with, that there is a regular practice of stealing the IDs and CVs of real linguists.


There is no doubt in my mind about this.
I just said that the names (and not only emails) are mostly fake in those CV's. Your scammers must have been particularly lazy and/or dumb, if they didn't bother to replace them.
In any case, forwarding the emails to the website I linked to is always a good idea and a big middle finger to the crooks since their details will be published to be seen by anybody who cares to google.

(Btw. did you receive an email from the Translators Scammers Directory to delete the email addresses from the quoted passage of my post? If not, pls delete them - I've already edited my post accordingly).


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Tradupro17  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:28
English to Haitian-Creole
+ ...
Agree Nov 8, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Thayenga wrote:
You could always ask the translators you're interested in working with for a Skype interview. Usually these criminals shy away from being seen.

I'm not sure I shy away from being seen , but I certainly shy away from Skype interviews.

Sending a brief note through our ProZ.com profile would confirm that we do in fact use the email address that the client has received, and that we do own the CV. If we don't reply, then it's clearly not something to pursue - scammer or not. If we have no idea of what's going on then the client is forewarned and, equally importantly, so is the legitimate owner of the CV.


I agree with Sheila.


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Enrique Cavalitto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 15:28
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
Risk management is a responsibility of the companies Nov 8, 2017

Libero_Lang_Lab wrote:
I don't get the sense that ProZ are doing that much to take a stand against this. Maybe I am wrong. I think there needs to be more discussion about this phenomenon, as it is truly pernicious, and clearly on the up.
Dan


Hi Dan,

There are two different issues here:
a) Information in CVs being used by scammers to impersonate translators
b) Bogus applications and CVs being sent to companies

I will not discuss the first issue here beyond noting that translators should upload the CVs in a non-editable format and that scammers can simply make-up CVs and bogus identities without the need of using actual CV as a template. Maybe ProZ.com could accept only non-editable formats in uploaded CVs (but then you still have lots of editable CVs alredy uploaded). As stated before, I do not plan to discuss here this aspect of the problem.

Regarding the issue of companies receiving fake applications, the responsibility of performing risk management, including scam-prevention activities, fall squarely on the shoulders of the company.

A reasonable approach when you are approached by an unknown entity with a business proposal is asking for verifiable contact information and then verifying this information.

In case the applicant has a ProZ.com profile, sending a profile message will let you reach the proper email address, and you will be able to confirm if the application was real or not. A profile with verified identity will provide further assurance.

A simpler mechanism available to Business members (as you are) is that of the search by email feature, where you can enter one or more email addresses and you will find out if these addresses are related to actual ProZ.com profiles.

The main support a site like ProZ.com can provide in this area is that of raising awareness on the issue, and providing spaces for discussion. Several initiatives have been taken in this direction including:


Let's keep working together against this common enemy.

Kind regards,
Enrique Cavalitto


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