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Does this sound like a legitimate inquiry?
Thread poster: Colleen Roach, PhD

Colleen Roach, PhD  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:44
Member (Mar 2019)
French to English
+ ...
Nov 20, 2018

Yesterday, I received an email from someone who did not address me by name and simply said: “I have a document i [sic] would like to translate from Spanish to English. Please let me know if you are available to do the job. Thanks.” The name of the person was provided at the top of the email.

The message indicated that it was sent via Proz.com. The email also indicated this: [NOTE: The author is not a registered ProZ.com user or was not logged in when sending this message.] The
... See more
Yesterday, I received an email from someone who did not address me by name and simply said: “I have a document i [sic] would like to translate from Spanish to English. Please let me know if you are available to do the job. Thanks.” The name of the person was provided at the top of the email.

The message indicated that it was sent via Proz.com. The email also indicated this: [NOTE: The author is not a registered ProZ.com user or was not logged in when sending this message.] Then, the author’s IP address was provided.

I replied, asking for details: deadline, length of document and a summary of its content. I also asked the sender if he/she represented an agency. Does this sound like a legitimate inquiry or something I should be wary of?

Thank you.
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:44
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Annoyingmous Nov 20, 2018

It's probably one of those emails that people send out to dozens of Proz members all at the same time. I get them nearly every day. I never respond. You'll probably never get a reply to your queries.

[Edited at 2018-11-20 15:05 GMT]


Lian Pang
Giovanna Alessandra Meloni
B D Finch
 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 07:44
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Scam Nov 20, 2018

I received the same yesterday, but ENG to SPA. I asked the same questions. They provided a PDF file I aso found on tne internet. I insisted on info about the client: name, address, phone number, they provided some (probable phony) and asked about total rate. I provided a quote but told them paying was Paypal 50% upfront ( to be on the safe side). No more replies.

Same last week under another name and another gmail address, and asking for my bank data, which of course I did not provi
... See more
I received the same yesterday, but ENG to SPA. I asked the same questions. They provided a PDF file I aso found on tne internet. I insisted on info about the client: name, address, phone number, they provided some (probable phony) and asked about total rate. I provided a quote but told them paying was Paypal 50% upfront ( to be on the safe side). No more replies.

Same last week under another name and another gmail address, and asking for my bank data, which of course I did not provide. I found out this IP address was well known for spamming. I blocked the IP and let Proz know about it.

Final step, deleting the emails.
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Lian Pang
Tina Wooden
 

Lian Pang  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:44
Member (2018)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Could be, just wait for further responses Nov 20, 2018

Yeah, some clients are pretty straightforward as they only want to confirm your availability first. It may come off as a little rude. It doesn't always mean that is illegitimate.

But there are indeed some red flags there. I would be very very careful with this inquiry. Please wait for further responses regarding the client's identity (double check his IP), deadline, pay rate, etc. to determine if it's a scam or not.

Bottom line is, if in doubt, throw it out.


Yaroslava Pryjmak
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 18:44
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Likely scam Nov 20, 2018

Still, it costs very little to follow up and confirm it.

[Edited at 2018-11-20 16:23 GMT]


megane_wang
Jean-Yves Préault
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 10:44
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It looks very much like... Nov 20, 2018

... an email I got a few days ago:

https://www.proz.com/forum/scams/330230-potential_scammer.html


 

Colleen Roach, PhD  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:44
Member (Mar 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
To Walter: contents of email received? Nov 20, 2018

Walter: you said you received the same email. Do you mean that the wording was exactly the same as what I received but wanting an Eng>Spanish translation? In response to my email to this person, today I got a reply enclosing a copy of the document to translate. The person said he/she is an "individual" (not an agency). This person also wants me to send a "proforma invoice/charges, modes of payment and delivery time." The person also wants me to "to proofread and format the document after transl... See more
Walter: you said you received the same email. Do you mean that the wording was exactly the same as what I received but wanting an Eng>Spanish translation? In response to my email to this person, today I got a reply enclosing a copy of the document to translate. The person said he/she is an "individual" (not an agency). This person also wants me to send a "proforma invoice/charges, modes of payment and delivery time." The person also wants me to "to proofread and format the document after translating" and asks me to "kindly include the fee to the grand-total."

I did not open up the document on my computer (to avoid any risk) but tried to do so on my smart phone. It is a weird document (973 KB) that doesn't really open. It has some long extension I've never seen before: "Office Open XML word processing document."

Thank you for your help and to others who have responded.
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Yaroslava Pryjmak
Ukraine
Local time: 12:44
English to Russian
+ ...
some assumptions Nov 20, 2018

such a wiard translation request might indicate that the customer is a very busy man having no time for specifying the translation details and just trying to find any available translator as soon as possible paying not much attention to how this requests looks like. In that case he might answer only 1-2 translators having confirmed their availability and shared their rates choosing the one available with the lowest rates to further send him/her the details. Not a very professional approach thoug... See more
such a wiard translation request might indicate that the customer is a very busy man having no time for specifying the translation details and just trying to find any available translator as soon as possible paying not much attention to how this requests looks like. In that case he might answer only 1-2 translators having confirmed their availability and shared their rates choosing the one available with the lowest rates to further send him/her the details. Not a very professional approach though...

I guess if it were a scam the sender would be interested in sending you some clarifications at once at least to agree about the terms when the translation could be ready.

In my case I have never got any replies to such e-mails.
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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 07:44
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Similar wording Nov 21, 2018

Colleen Roach, Ph.D. wrote:

Walter: you said you received the same email. Do you mean that the wording was exactly the same as what I received but wanting an Eng>Spanish translation? In response to my email to this person, today I got a reply enclosing a copy of the document to translate. The person said he/she is an "individual" (not an agency). This person also wants me to send a "proforma invoice/charges, modes of payment and delivery time." The person also wants me to "to proofread and format the document after translating" and asks me to "kindly include the fee to the grand-total."

Dear Colleen,

Please see below

1st email:
"Good day , I would like to know if you will be able to
translate a document am to use for a presentation in 2
weeks. You will be translating from English to spanish."

2nd email:
"Thanks for getting back to me.
I will like you to translate some document from English to Spanish. I already attached the document so you can view and send me your proforma invoice/charges."
Two PDF files are attached. Both files are free for downloading on the web. She also provided a phony but plausible name and address (I think) that do not correspond to the IP address.

3rd email:
I quoted for both files and asked for an advance via Paypal, but she/he insists on
"so kindly get back to me with the details below so that payment can be facilitated asap and you can finish in a timely manner.
Account name
Account number
Routine number
Bank name
Bank address"

4th email:
I reminded her/him I asked for paypal payment, so reply was "i deal with bank alone not paypal"

Final, I binned all the sequence of emails, no more replying. My instinct told me not to go on.


 

Colleen Roach, PhD  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:44
Member (Mar 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Response to Walter Nov 21, 2018

Walter: thanks so much for providing the details of a possible scam you had to deal with. The difference in language is distinct enough to make me think that it probably isn't the same person. I think, though, that you definitely took the right course of action: asking for a substantial payment with PayPal before starting the job. I will keep that in mind as it is sound advice particularly when working with a client who is an individual (and not an agency or private client).

In my
... See more
Walter: thanks so much for providing the details of a possible scam you had to deal with. The difference in language is distinct enough to make me think that it probably isn't the same person. I think, though, that you definitely took the right course of action: asking for a substantial payment with PayPal before starting the job. I will keep that in mind as it is sound advice particularly when working with a client who is an individual (and not an agency or private client).

In my case, someone in this thread had thoughts that could be true: this might just be someone who is totally unfamiliar with how the "process" works for finding a translator and not familiar with how wary we have to be when contacted out of the blue in order to protect ourselves. Samuel (on the forum here) kindly offered to take a look at the file name to see if he can shed any light on what it might contain. Having communicated privately now with Samuel, he was able to open the file and determine that it looks like a thesis. I just have to figure out now how to open the document. (He has given me a good suggestion on this).

[Edited at 2018-11-21 21:38 GMT]
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Colleen Nov 21, 2018

Colleen Roach, Ph.D. wrote:
In response to my email to this person, today I got a reply enclosing a copy of the document to translate. The person said he/she is an "individual" (not an agency). This person also wants me to send a "proforma invoice/charges, modes of payment and delivery time." The person also wants me to "to proofread and format the document after translating" and asks me to "kindly include the fee to the grand-total".
...
I did not open up the document on my computer (to avoid any risk) but tried to do so on my smart phone. It is a weird document (973 KB) that doesn't really open. It has some long extension I've never seen before: "Office Open XML word processing document."


Colleen sent me the file to look at. It is a DOCX file and it opens in my MS Word without a hitch. The file name has a fullstop in the middle of the name, which (on systems that hide the file extension) could make it appear as if the file has a weird, long file extension.

I don't speak Spanish, but the document appears to be a university thesis, 250 pages long, 90 000 words long. The document appears to be quite well formatted, except for some table headers that don't fit. The author's name is on page 2.


I would personally not translate a university thesis unless I'm quite familiar with the subject field.

Sometimes students have a bursary and can afford to pay high rates, but sometimes they pay for the translation themselves and then they want a very cheap rate. But you're a Ph.D, Colleen, so you would know what goes into writing a thesis (-:

The request "to proofread and format the document after translating" mentioned in the client's mail likely means that he wants you to hire a separate proofreader (and include the proofreader's rate in your quoted rate), and he wants you to ensure that the translation is properly formatted -- I know of translators who believe that formatting is not a translator's duty and will gladly deliver a poorly formatted file as long as the translation is accurate. Properly formatting it might also mean that you may need to find out what is his university's or his targeted publication's style guide.

Asking for a "pro forma invoice" is also typical of academic work. It means that the client needs to get the amount approved by some accountant beforehand (e.g. from the company that pays his bursary), and a mere quote in the body of an e-mail will not satisfy the accountant. The "pro forma invoice" is essentially a formal quotation in the form of an invoice.

I tend to see fewer red flags than some other ProZians, yes, but still: I don't see flags here. (The identical wording "proforma invoice/charges" in both your and Walter's cases is odd, though.) That does not mean it isn't risky. I would not want to translate a file this big without some advance payment. You could also ask for information about the university, etc, so that you can confirm that the client is a student there.

Finally, it may be that the client misunderstood: he might just need you to translate the summary/abstract, and not the entire thesis.


[Edited at 2018-11-21 21:02 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Walter Nov 21, 2018

Walter Landesman wrote:
1st email: "...a document am to use for a presentation...
...
Two PDF files are attached. Both files are free for downloading on the web.


If it is for a presentation, then the fact that the files are available on the internet is less suspicious, don't you agree?

She also provided a phony but plausible name and address (I think) that do not correspond to the IP address.


My address does not correspond to my IP address either. My IP address is 198.148.82.82 but I don't live in Denver, Colorado. And if a person is sending the e-mail from a different location (i.e. not from home, but e.g. while travelling) then their IP address would not reflect their home's location anyway.

4th email:
I reminded her/him I asked for Paypal payment, so reply was "i deal with bank alone not paypal".


PayPal is not available in all countries, and some clients' accountants simply do not want to use PayPal (or charge extra for using PayPal). What is your reason for accepting a PayPal advance payment but not a bank transfer advance payment?


 

Colleen Roach, PhD  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:44
Member (Mar 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to Samuel Nov 21, 2018

Thank you Samuel for all of the advice and research. This sounds like it MIGHT be a viable project. I will figure out now how to open the document. (Samuel has given me private advice on this). Then I can take the steps you mention. The first thing of course is to figure out the approximate cost and see if she can pay 1/2 upfront on PayPal as Walter suggests. After this, I think incremental payments would be in order. Finding out what type of university the thesis is for will also be helpful, i.... See more
Thank you Samuel for all of the advice and research. This sounds like it MIGHT be a viable project. I will figure out now how to open the document. (Samuel has given me private advice on this). Then I can take the steps you mention. The first thing of course is to figure out the approximate cost and see if she can pay 1/2 upfront on PayPal as Walter suggests. After this, I think incremental payments would be in order. Finding out what type of university the thesis is for will also be helpful, i.e. online, country where it is based, etc. The most difficult thing about writing a thesis is that things are always changing. A student may show a first draft to their dissertation advisor, who then demands substantial revisions. That has to be accounted for in any agreement. Oh yes, of course, I also have to make sure it's not a thesis on nuclear physics or something totally beyond the areas I have worked in (Social Sciences, Literature and the Arts). Thanks again to everyone for their assistance.Collapse


 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 07:44
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Paypal in the US Nov 21, 2018

Samuel Murray wrote:


PayPal is not available in all countries, and some clients' accountants simply do not want to use PayPal (or charge extra for using PayPal). What is your reason for accepting a PayPal advance payment but not a bank transfer advance payment?


The potential client is supposed to be writing from the US. In addition to the other red flags.


Katarzyna Slowikova
 

Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:44
English to Czech
+ ...
"Good day" to everybody Nov 22, 2018

Colleen Roach, Ph.D. wrote:

1st email:
"Good day ,



You really could have stopped reading just here and hit Delete. I have seen "Good Day" as a greeting ONLY in scam emails.

(although while googling to ensure I don't say something silly here, I found this: https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/161449/does-the-phrase-good-day-greeting-is-a-natural-for-native-english-speakers. So you can still assume it's a legitimate Aussie hillbilly with no bad intentions).

Update:
Looks like you really can't wait to learn hard way how to lose money on PayPal, can you... But maybe your "client" doesn't know it either and specializes only in the bank wire frauds. In any case, good luck, you've been warned.


[Edited at 2018-11-22 13:56 GMT]


Robert Forstag
 
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