Discerning between a scam and a legitimate new outsourcer
Thread poster: Barbara L Pavlik

Barbara L Pavlik  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:12
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 8, 2018

I received an email that was sent through proz.com from an outsourcer saying that they are looking for translators in my language pair and asking me to send my CV if I would like to be added to their databank. There is nothing scammy looking about the email itself. The sender uses my name in the salutation and it is a short, to-the-point email written in good German. So, I just started doing the standard background check before replying and found that the woman who wrote has only been a member... See more
I received an email that was sent through proz.com from an outsourcer saying that they are looking for translators in my language pair and asking me to send my CV if I would like to be added to their databank. There is nothing scammy looking about the email itself. The sender uses my name in the salutation and it is a short, to-the-point email written in good German. So, I just started doing the standard background check before replying and found that the woman who wrote has only been a member of proz.com for a few months, and her agency has no feedback yet. So I looked around a little more and found that she has a profile on translationdirectory.com (which I never heard of before), and a LinkedIn profile showing that she started this company at about the same time that she joined proz.com Her profile shows that she was a PM at another translation agency for 11 years prior to this. However, she has no referrals on her profile, and LinkedIn won't let me see her contacts (can I see those contacts if I connect with her on LinkedIn?) The company for which she claims to have been a PM seems legitimate. I called the phone number on her website and got an answering machine with a man's voice (from other online sources, it seems that they are a husband and wife team) giving the correct name of the outsourcer and asking callers to leave a message. Other internet results for the woman's name also show her as a Reiki and massage therapist (same photo). So far, nothing too alarming, but when I googled the street address and there were no street views, I went to satellite view, and the address they give is in a sort of residential neighbourhood next to a small farm and across the street from a gas station, but the address itself is a vacant lot with trees on it. The IP address checks out for the town that the agency is in. I don't know how old the satellite image is; I suppose it's possible that they have built a house there since the image was captured. So, it's not a bad idea to get in on the ground floor if there's a new outsourcer coming onto the scene, but I'm still feeling a bit cautious. Is there any way that I can be scammed merely by providing my CV to the outsourcer? Should I connect with them on LinkedIn and see if their contacts match up? Any other ideas on how to verify their authenticity?Collapse


 

Tony M
France
Local time: 04:12
Member
French to English
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
A couple of points... Oct 8, 2018

Google Earth images carry a date showing the date of the photo.

It is not unusual for a new business not to have a great many referrals, and for their website to not always be very full.

Yes, if you connect with them on LinkedIn, this will let you see their other connections; I would think doing so ought to be one of your first steps anyway...

And sending you CV to people opens you to scams because unscrupulous people can use the content of your CV to creat
... See more
Google Earth images carry a date showing the date of the photo.

It is not unusual for a new business not to have a great many referrals, and for their website to not always be very full.

Yes, if you connect with them on LinkedIn, this will let you see their other connections; I would think doing so ought to be one of your first steps anyway...

And sending you CV to people opens you to scams because unscrupulous people can use the content of your CV to create a false identity, either passing it off under their own name, or even a fake name, and then using the strengths of your CV to get work, which they then get done by someone cheaper (and probably less competent!) — if your name has been removed, then at least your reputation won't be tarnished; but if they abuse your name too, banking on your reputation, but actually giving the work to someone else, then it could ultimately reflect on you and your reputation.

This happened to me — a woman on ProZ.com stole the contents of my CV and also the customer testimonials off my ProZ.com profile, to bolster her own otherwise rather unimpressive track record. But she was too stupid to edit it intelligently, so when I said I had "20 years' experience" in some field, at age 24 she clearly couldn't possibly have done! Luckily, nothing she did would have reflected back on my own reputation, but it was still irksome to see someone atte,pting to benefit from my own reputation! Especially as, from her KudoZ questions, one could tell she was only passably competent, and certainly not in my specialist technical fields!
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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:12
Member (2018)
French to English
Everyone has to start somewhere! Oct 8, 2018

It sounds pretty legit to me, but perhaps I'm naive. Google's satellite photo may be outdated, Tony explains how to check on that. If the company was only recently set up, someone has to be the first to give a Blue Board rating.

I would say by all means, make contact on LinkedIN with these people, maybe phone them again, try to actually speak to someone. You can always delete the LI contact if they turn out bad.


Kevin Fulton
Teresa Borges
 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
German to English
Give it a try Oct 8, 2018

You've certainly done due diligence! There are a lot of small/new agencies that have kept a low profile, due in part to avoid receiving an avalanche of CVs or because they've been concentrating on customer service rather than marketing. I don't see any harm in deepening your contact with this potential outsourcer.

Teresa Borges
 

Barbara L Pavlik  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:12
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Two Copyrights? Oct 8, 2018

So, I'm a little confused on the Satellite image date. First, there is a GeoBasis copyright 2018 and then there is a 2009 copyright from Google. Does anyone know which one is the date the image was captured? In the meantime, I've requested to connect with her on LinkedIn, so once I establish that contact, it should be a little easier to get an idea. Thanks for all of your input.

 

Yvonne Gallagher
Ireland
Local time: 03:12
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
Ask them to expand/explain Oct 8, 2018

I don't send my CV at all now until AFTER agreeing minimum rates and terms. I found I was sending off my CV and/or filling in countless new translator forms and then a) never hearing from them again or b) being asked to lower my rates. I have never had my CV available on Proz. I saw too many stories like Tony's of CVs being stolen.

How to check ID? This has happened a few times to me where I've asked why the IP doesn't match with the location of their business. If the location shows
... See more
I don't send my CV at all now until AFTER agreeing minimum rates and terms. I found I was sending off my CV and/or filling in countless new translator forms and then a) never hearing from them again or b) being asked to lower my rates. I have never had my CV available on Proz. I saw too many stories like Tony's of CVs being stolen.

How to check ID? This has happened a few times to me where I've asked why the IP doesn't match with the location of their business. If the location shows an empty lot and some trees I'd be very cautious. Why not tell them of your concerns re lack of proof of identity/address and ask them to give you some verifiable referrals?

I had a request from an agency in Paris once where there was no BB record and their Proz profile was basically blank though several years old (and satellite image showed building but not the tenants) and they immediately directed me to other people who had worked for them, their LinkedIn profile, and offered to pay me up front on the first assignment. So, it turned out fine and, though in business several years, they'd never asked anyone to do a write up for them on BB and I was the first person who had asked for some proof of ID.

Also, I don't really see why you think a new agency ("it's not a bad idea to get in on the ground floor if there's a new outsourcer coming onto the scene") would be preferable to an experienced one?

As for good writing and legit telephone/address, well, that doesn't always work as proof either! I did some work for a man with impeccable written French and who sounded very charming on the phone but who had scarpered by the time payment was due so I was robbed of €880. No longer at address, phone no longer valid so couldn't even send the heavies after him but had to write it off!

I'd advise going by your gut feeling if you can't get confirmation of their identity
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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 04:12
Member (2016)
English to German
Google might not be exact on house numbers Oct 8, 2018

The fact that Google does not show a house at the street address might simply be due to an error in Google, most maps systems are not perfect when it comes to house numbers. At least in Germany I have seen misplaced house numbers in Google maps. If street view works, check if you can decipher the house number plates from neighbouring houses.

Katarzyna Slowikova
Dmytro Nehrii
 

IrinaN
United States
Local time: 21:12
English to Russian
+ ...
Website? Oct 8, 2018

You didn't mention anything about a website. Nowadays it's not just highly unlikely but pretty much impossible for a company, however small and run-from-the-home it might be, not to develop and use one a few months after a startup.

Your specialisms are good money-makers in high demand, so there might be two reasons behind the choice. One - very smart cherry-picking by a new agency, which is not about to spread itself too thin and hunts big game from the beginning, or... something v
... See more
You didn't mention anything about a website. Nowadays it's not just highly unlikely but pretty much impossible for a company, however small and run-from-the-home it might be, not to develop and use one a few months after a startup.

Your specialisms are good money-makers in high demand, so there might be two reasons behind the choice. One - very smart cherry-picking by a new agency, which is not about to spread itself too thin and hunts big game from the beginning, or... something very useful and impressive to steal.

Also, maybe it will make sense to see if anybody else receives a similar email and joins this forum. If they chose to use Proz for database filling, you can't be the only one.

It is our job to find the right words, and there will be nothing wrong with asking politely about the website and why and how exactly they found and picked you.

BTW, did you leave a message and was there any reaction?
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Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:12
English to Czech
+ ...
LinkedIn contacts Oct 8, 2018

Looks like everything has been said... just one thing: LinkedIn has an option to hide your contacts and from my experience most people use it. If you connect with this person, you'll be able to see only the contacts you have in common (which still is something - you can ask them for their opinion).

 

Barbara L Pavlik  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:12
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Progress Being Made Oct 9, 2018

I did send an email with my questions this morning, and she replied within a few hours. (They do have a web site, by the way... it's just not very well developed, and the English version is still under construction). She admitted that they were a startup, and she seemed a bit surprised by my questions, although she conceded that she could understand that I would want to know who I was working with. She said that it hadn't occurred to her to request Blueboard entries from the translators that ... See more
I did send an email with my questions this morning, and she replied within a few hours. (They do have a web site, by the way... it's just not very well developed, and the English version is still under construction). She admitted that they were a startup, and she seemed a bit surprised by my questions, although she conceded that she could understand that I would want to know who I was working with. She said that it hadn't occurred to her to request Blueboard entries from the translators that they've worked with (but she still didn't give me any references) and that she only started using LinkedIn recently and never thought to ask for references there either but would consider my suggestion. (still hasn't made her contacts visible). They chose to contact me, because they plan to use only translators who are highly skilled in a specific technical area and to have those translators translate only in their areas of expertise, and their policy is to pay within two weeks of receiving the invoice. I'm a bit less skeptical now, but I still think she should be able to provide some references. I still don't have any actual proof that she exists and is who she says she is other than the IP address verification. I don't imagine she would want to contract me for a translation job if I didn't have any references on my profile and didn't provide her with any. Sigh. Why do you have to spell these things out to people?Collapse


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
German to English
Clueless translators, clueless agencies Oct 11, 2018

Barbara L Pavlik wrote:

She said that it hadn't occurred to her to request Blueboard entries from the translators that they've worked with (but she still didn't give me any references) and that she only started using LinkedIn recently and never thought to ask for references there either but would consider my suggestion. (still hasn't made her contacts visible). Sigh. Why do you have to spell these things out to people?


There are a lot of clueless actors in this business – translators and agency wannabees alike. They don't understand that first and foremost they are business people, and that business is translation. The agency in question apparently doesn't understand that one of the goals of successful marketing is demonstrating competence and creating a feeling of confidence on the part of people using their services, both as providers and consumers of translation services. A lot of well-intentioned people come across as shady because they don't know to properly present themselves.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 11:12
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Requirements Oct 11, 2018

Treat them as a direct client. Direct clients don't know about the Blue Board and often don't care about LinkedIn (which has so many degrees of awful that I don't blame anyone for not touching it with a barge pole).

By all means ask for advanced payment on the first job, and a degree of caution never hurts, but don't make yourself harder to work with than you need to be, and remember the world doesn't necessarily revolve around ProZ.

By the way, you mentioned references
... See more
Treat them as a direct client. Direct clients don't know about the Blue Board and often don't care about LinkedIn (which has so many degrees of awful that I don't blame anyone for not touching it with a barge pole).

By all means ask for advanced payment on the first job, and a degree of caution never hurts, but don't make yourself harder to work with than you need to be, and remember the world doesn't necessarily revolve around ProZ.

By the way, you mentioned references? I have a straight-up no-references policy, non-negotiable regardless of the circumstances, and I imagine many translators do as well.
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Discerning between a scam and a legitimate new outsourcer

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