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Suspicious activity or not?
Thread poster: Rania Oteify

Rania Oteify
Local time: 06:22
Arabic to English
+ ...
May 31, 2012

Hello,
I received a translation request from a non-proz member. I responded with a quote and asked for a purchase order and 50 percent of the payment to be paid before the delivery date since it is the first time to deal with the person -- who claims to be a student. The client responded asking for my address to send a check with the whole amount. I sent the details and asked for contact details, again. The client said she was out of state and her phone is not working.
I am kind of concerned about why she doesn't want to send me a purchase order, an address or any contact information. I have not received the check yet. But even if I receive I am concerned still about accepting money from an unknown source.
What do you think? Am I being paranoid or it is suspicious?

Your thoughts please.

Thank you,

Rania


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Scam May 31, 2012

It's a scam.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Scam! May 31, 2012

Typical overpayment scam. Stop communicating with the person and forget about the whole matter. Cheers!

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
English to German
+ ...
Technically, there is nothing wrong. May 31, 2012

When dealing with legitimate private clients, it is always a bad idea to ask for a "PO". Or worse: a job number. They don't run businesses, they don't even know what a "PO" is, they just need some personal papers or something to be translated. By treating private direct clients as if they were translation agencies, we scare them off. Ask for their credit card number instead - the ultimate ID, perfectly verifiable. With private clients, it is YOU who has to bundle all information in one email or any other written form, preferably with your letterhead, and then have it signed and confirmed in written form. This is your contract. Your private client might be just as insecure as you are, but no private client should ever have to specifically ask for the physical address of your/any business in the first place.

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Amel Abdullah  Identity Verified
Jordan
Arabic to English
+ ...
Beware! May 31, 2012

I agree with Nicole that a non-agency client would not know what a PO is. In addition to my translation work, I am also a freelance writer for various magazines and businesses and never receive a PO because I am the one who prepares everything for the client. Having said that, there is the very real possibility that you are dealing with a scammer. Do not be surprised if the check you receive is greater than the agreed-upon amount. The "client" will then ask you to return the excess money, and you will eventually find out that the check was not real to begin with. Look through the forum to understand the nature of the "overpayment" scam, and be very wary of a client who refuses to provide any contact information. How would you be able to bill such a client? Also, it is flattering to think that a particular client has chosen you to handle his/her translation needs, but I would ask myself how likely it would be for a student to go about hiring a translator in the manner this individual has approached you.



[Edited at 2012-05-31 05:59 GMT]


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Rania Oteify
Local time: 06:22
Arabic to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all May 31, 2012

Thank you all for your input. @Nicole, thanks for your tips regarding the PO. I don't typically ask for a purchase order. One reason I felt I want one in this case was because of the nature of the contact. I had the feeling like there was something wrong and I just didn't feel right proceeding with a big project without some guarantee. This was also the reason I asked for a downpayment -- never done that before.
I am glad I checked with you guys because I didn't hear about this overpayment scam before. In fact, the client (the scammer) emailed me today that she will be sending an extra amount because she expects more translation work to come. This made me feel like there is something really wrong.
Now I need to just decide what to do with the check if I receive it


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Destroy the check May 31, 2012

Rania Oteify wrote:
Now I need to just decide what to do with the check if I receive it

They will send you a check, will try to make you cash it, it will clear OK initially, they then say that they overpaid (or that they will not have that extra work), and will ask for you to return part of the money to a different account or a different person. Couple of days later, the check is found fake by your bank... and there you have it. You pay the money you gave the contact.

Now, as to what to do with the check: simply email the person saying that you are not interested in this cooperation anymore and that, should a check arrive, you will destroy it unopened.

And in fact, do destroy it unopened if you get a check. The more you have it in your hands, the more trouble and wasted mental time. If you even dared to try to cash it for the fun of it, you could be automatically included in the circles investigated by the police. I do not mean to scare you: this happened to an acquaintance of a friend of mine.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
English to German
+ ...
Or even better: Report it May 31, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
And in fact, do destroy it unopened if you get a check.


As long as everybody is so eager to destroy any evidence, scammers are free to go on and on with their activities.

Present the check to your bank, so they can add the sender to their black-list and warn others. A lot of people will love you for this favor.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Nicole May 31, 2012

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Ask for their credit card number instead - the ultimate ID, perfectly verifiable.


Really? How does one verify a credit card number?


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Derrio  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Verifying cards May 31, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Ask for their credit card number instead - the ultimate ID, perfectly verifiable.


Really? How does one verify a credit card number?


Samuel,
This can be done. There are plenty of on-line tools to do this - typically used by fraudsters to check the counterfeit cards they have made - although these won't help that much as all they need to do is provide any valid card number! Otherwise your bank may do it (the first six digits of the card will tell you who the issuing bank is) although they won't (or shouldn't) tell you who the card belongs to. You would need the cardholder's authority to do this although some may confirm if it relates to a named person or not if you can prove it is for business purposes.

Anyway, this is all off-topic and I agree with Tomás and the others - it has all the hallmarks of an overpayment scam.

Regards


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Inform the authorities May 31, 2012

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
And in fact, do destroy it unopened if you get a check.


As long as everybody is so eager to destroy any evidence, scammers are free to go on and on with their activities.

Present the check to your bank, so they can add the sender to their black-list and warn others. A lot of people will love you for this favor.


This scammer has probably fleeced a lot of people already, so I'd report it if possible.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
English to German
+ ...
There's a lot you can do May 31, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Ask for their credit card number instead - the ultimate ID, perfectly verifiable.


Really? How does one verify a credit card number?


Even as a private person. Example: Last Sunday some jerk made a dent into my car on the parking lot of a grocery store and left a note with only a phone number and the word "Sorry!!". Before my husband even called that number, I new the culprit's address, gender, age, profession, that the person was retired, his previous workplace including job title, where the person went to school, his hair color, the cell phone provider, previous residences and names of his relatives. All based on a phone number.

Don't ask what you can do as a business owner... you can access credit histories and make full background checks.


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:22
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Scary May 31, 2012

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Even as a private person. Example: Last Sunday some jerk made a dent into my car on the parking lot of a grocery store and left a note with only a phone number and the word "Sorry!!". Before my husband even called that number, I new the culprit's address, gender, age, profession, that the person was retired, his previous workplace including job title, where the person went to school, his hair color, the cell phone provider, previous residences and names of his relatives. All based on a phone number.

Don't ask what you can do as a business owner... you can access credit histories and make full background checks.


It is scary that you were able to discover all that information from a phone number and I am curious about how you could do that. However, if the "jerk" (as you call him/her) left their real phone number then they were being honest but sensibly not leaving their name and address where anybody could access it by looking at the note on your windscreen. If they left a false phone number, then you didn't actually know anything about them, only about the person whose phone number happened to coincide with the made-up one.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
English to German
+ ...
That's why I did it in the first place. May 31, 2012

B D Finch wrote:

It is scary that you were able to discover all that information from a phone number and I am curious about how you could do that. However, if the "jerk" (as you call him/her) left their real phone number then they were being honest but sensibly not leaving their name and address where anybody could access it by looking at the note on your windscreen. If they left a false phone number, then you didn't actually know anything about them, only about the person whose phone number happened to coincide with the made-up one.


If the phone number would have proven invalid, I would have contacted the police who will access the surveillance cameras of the parking lot, identify car and owner and arrest the owner. Making up phony numbers is a very, very bad idea. It's cruel, but fair.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:22
Member
English to French
Scams happen anywhere, any time May 31, 2012

I advertised a settee on a Spanish online second-hand site. After initial contact and blah blah (GT Spanish, but s/he claimed to be moving back to Britain. His/her EN was just as bad), the "buyer" faked a Paypal payment notification, with additional money meant to pay the carrier picking up the item. I was to send the carrier's money to a Moneybookers account, and got the invoice for it.

It smelled bad from the start, but I wanted to check how sophisticated they can get. Simply checking IP addresses and e-mail addresses makes it easy to discover such ploys.

The amount I would have lost, had I been gullible and dumb enough, was 150 euros.

Philippe


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