Five answers about translation scams

Pay attention colleagues, because translation scams are on the order of the day. Surely, many of you are familiar with the pigeon drop scam or the new roundabout scam, but, did you know that the world of professional translation is also affected by these kinds of swindles? For that reason, today we offer five answers about this illegal practice in which we will describe what it is and how to detect it in order to avoid annoyances.

Here are five answers about translation scams:

What is a translation scam?

Nasty business. Certain undesirables from somewhere in the world — they tend to be from Nigeria or Palestine, who knows why — dedicate themselves to stealing the CVs of legitimate professionals. They change the contact information and even the name. Then they introduce themselves to translation agencies as top notch professionals.

In some cases, we are talking about 100% identity theft, while in others it is more or less an illegal use of the credentials of real professionals.

Who is hurt by translation scams?

They affect freelancers as well as agencies, individual clients and other external agents. The work of the scammers lacks quality, as it is the product of Google Translate or some ultra-cheap freelancer whose work is not up to par.

The result: wasted money, wasted time and lost credibility with the client for both the agency and the freelancer.

How do translation scams work?

Translation scammers take over the CVs of real translators, either downloading them directly from directories or passing themselves off as agencies or independent project managers, which helps them obtain the CVs and “legitimise” their distribution to third parties through abusive contracts. Afterwards, they proceed to change the personal information, — sometimes they don’t change the name of the translator, which constitutes identity theft — the contact information and begin a massive spam campaign directed at translation agencies or responding to real job offers.

If an agency falls for this trick and hires one of these scammers, they will deliver an automatic translation or the work of an extremely cheap translator with minimal professional credentials. Because they have also probably been cheated, if they deliver anything at all.

The next step consists of sending the invoice for the work and the corresponding PayPal account to which the invoice should be paid. Surprise, the e-mail address on the account is not the same as that of the supposed translator. The victims will realise that they’ve been swindled and will ask for explanations, but will only get threats or indifference from a scammer who has already covered their tracks.

How can agencies detect translation scams?

Luckily, the scammers are relatively easy to detect. The peculiarities of their modus operandi may set off some alarm bells. They send spontaneous application emails even though the agency has a contact form specifically for that purpose. They do not include the address of the e-mail recipient as they are part of a list of BCCed recipients; the level of the writing — usually in English — is terrible.

They usually specify their language pairs with the formula “English<>Catalan<>German” or any other formula that uses more than two languages and indicates that they carry out inverse translation. The attached CVs usually use several font types — due to copying and pasting from several CVs. The addresses collected in the CV are false, as well as their postal codes, telephone numbers or tax identification numbers; the information provided tends to be contradictory, especially in regard to the date of birth and years of experience.

Their rates are usually laughable and if you check the author of the document, often it will be different from the name of the person who sent it.

How can freelancers detect translation scams?

Many of these scammers pass themselves off as translation agencies or independent project managers to pull of the scam. There are several signs that any translator should keep in mind and be able to detect in order to avoid unnecessary annoyances. Above all, don’t trust anyone claiming to represent an agency that writes to you from a free e-mail address — Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail… And think twice when the e-mail is written in English even though you and the supposed company are both German.

Never accept offers to “promote” your CV, and don’t even think about signing agreements to transfer your CV to third parties. By the way, there are also preventative measures you can take. Never publish a complete and detailed version of your CV; don’t upload digital versions of your diplomas online; send all scanned documentation with the necessary security settings established; and, this is very important, register your own domain and use registered e-mail addresses on it for all your professional activity.

Better play safe than sorry

And that is our contribution. We hope that this helps you avoid future annoyances and, in any case, you can get more information about this fraudulent practice on this website — and also on this one —. Meanwhile, if you want to play it safe, don’t hesitate to put your trust in a translation agency that meets high quality standards. Like Ontranslation, for example.

What did you think of our five answers about translation scams? Did you know about this phenomenon?

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

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