Translator scammers are, unfortunately, quite the common occurrence in today’s translation industry, especially with the rise of Internet communication. Their whole fraudulent scheme most often revolves around the use of email addresses as a main point of contact rather than phone numbers. There are various types of scams in which one can unintentionally get involved in, regardless of whether you are a client or a professional translator. In order to reduce risk and avoid potential loses or identity theft, there are certain methods to help you identify when someone is trying to scam you or hurt your reputation.
1. An individual offering payment without requiring prior services
As a translator, if a potential client approaches you with a most likely poorly-written message, offering you money straight away without specifying the type of service they are looking for, you should question their integrity. Another ‘red light’ is if a customer sends you more money than you’ve requested for a service through a money order or a check. In this case, the sender will most likely ask you to return the extra money, and the check will end up fraudulent. That’s why the first thing you should do as a translator is clarify what is the type of service the client is requiring and whether they will be someone who can be relied on during the process of you working for them. It is unusual for someone to offer you a full payment before you’ve completed your work, so running a background check on someone who does so is essential. For instance, checking back with other translators on whether they’ve worked together can help you determine if this person is a legitimate customer or if they are trying to take advantage of your work.
2. The client does not negotiate the price
Whether you have firm service rates or not, if a client doesn’t negotiate about or pay attention to the cost of your work, beware. If someone wants to take money off of you, they would not care about how much you are going to charge them.
3. An attractive job offer which requires you to pay
It is common for translators to receive emails from various ‘credible’ translation agencies, being offered a tempting job, potentially abroad, which pays good money for not a lot of work. However, those companies would often require you to put down some sort of payment prior to taking up the position. If a company is making you pay in order to get hired, there is a 99% chance that they are trying to scam you and simply take your money.
4. Hijacked or stolen CVs
However, if you are a business owner or a project manager looking to hire a translator, you should beware of the scammers using fake or stolen CVs from the Internet. There are different versions of fraudulent CVs- some of them might be a literal copy of another person’s CV, while other would piece together a CV from various other online sources. The thing in common between all of them is that they all contain the email address of the scammer.
5. No verifiable personal information- if the translating agency or translator you are thinking of hiring doesn’t provide any sort of identity verification, or if there is no information about them online, this probably means they are not a legitimate service provider. Most scammers use fake names, fake company addresses and don’t give out their real location in order to hide their tracks and be impossible to detect after.
6. The Translator Scammers Directory website
Other ways in which you can make sure your skills or your business are not being taken advantage of is to check whether the person contacting you is included in the Translator Scammers Directory- a website listing over 13,000 of scammers’ emails and names, to prevent others from falling victim to their malpractices. This resource is a great way to identify potential fraudsters and protect yourself.
7.Strange greetings or an unusual combination of languages
Finally, when communicating with a potential translator, be aware of the type of language they are using in their emails- is the grammar correct, does the person make a lot of typos or use words out of context? Those details can expose fake translators. Additionally, you should be apprehensive towards translators claiming they are speaking natively two or more languages from completely different language family groups. More often than not, this means that the person is simply trying to attract the attention, and wallets, of as many clients as possible.
Scammers within the translation industry can both hurt the credibility of translators whom identity they have stolen and can ruin the reputation of the company that has hired them. To reduce the risk of falling into the trap of those imposters, always make sure to do prior research on the person/company and, most importantly, trust your gut- if something seems wrong, express your concern to others.