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Translator scam alert center
As a part of your normal risk management procedures, when you receive an unrequested proposal you should ask yourself if it may be a scam.
This page is a quick guide to help you identify the most common scams affecting the translation industry separated in two broad categories: scammers who want to steal your work and those who want to steal your money.
Scam alerts will be generated to distribute scam information received, including risk management suggestions. ProZ.com members can Subscribe to the scam alerts . Past translator scam alert reports are available in a dedicated page .
Scammers who want to steal your work
Scams in this area fall more in the field of normal risk management for freelance translators. They come from people who usually know about translation and are therefore more difficult to detect.
This category does not include normal outsourcers who fail to pay because they run out of money (although risk management should also evaluate these cases).
A scammer in this category is someone that will send you a translation assignment with no intention of paying you. There are two brad categories: scammers who will create a “ghost outsourcer” that will prove hard to track afterwards, and those that will misrepresent themselves as legitimate outsourcer, or acting on their behalf.
Ghost client scam
The scammers will contact you asking for your professional services just like any other client would do, but they have no plans to pay you and will provide fake contact information to deceive you and to prevent prosecution. Your main line of defense against this kind of scams is a solid risk management procedure (one of the key elements you need to develop as a freelance translator).
A complete guide to risk management exceeds the scope of this publication but you should:
- Identify the outsourcer, ask for as much contact data as possible, check their web page, call one of the phone numbers found in the web page, check IP addresses of emails, Google names and contact info, check address in Google maps
- Validate the outsourcer’s reliability with commercial services offering colleagues feedback on outsourcers, such as ProZ.com’s Blue Board and several payment practices information providers.
Impersonated client scam
The scammers will contact you asking for your professional services impersonating a legitimate outsourcer. The first line of risk management (evaluation of the outsourcer) will give you the wrong information if you fail to notice that the request comes from a cheat disguised as the legitimate client. The main challenge in this case is to make sure that the person contacting you on behalf of an outsourcer is entitled to represent them.
Checking emails addresses and their IP addresses is a valuable source of information. An alleged PM of a London-based firm sending an email from Nigeria is a bad sign. Also a PM from a corporate agency (for instance big_agency) using a free email (for instance [email protected]) should activate a lot of red lights
More difficult to detect are email addresses where a small change has been made to the dominion (for instance @big-agency instead of @big_agency). Calling the company asking for confirmation is a good precaution and a company should consider it a professional action.
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The worst situation is when the email address from a translator has been compromised or stolen by a scammer, who will then be able to ask you for a job from the legitimate address of a colleague without the email owner being aware of the scam. It is always a good idea to seek confirmation using a different channel (an SMS, phone call, Skype, etc).
A variance of the stolen identity scam has the scammer allegedly acting on behalf of a known colleague to help him/her after an incapacitating blow such as a stroke or an accident). Be specially alert in there cases and don’t forget to validate the situation through an independent channel.
- ProZ.com wiki: Risk management for translators and interpreters
- ProZ.com wiki: Risk management: the Blue Board
- ProZ.com wiki: Risk management: Email
Scammers who want to steal your money
Many scammers are foreign to the industry and, even if they may ask for your professional services, they are primarily focused on stealing your money. Be especially alert when someone offers you something for nothing or asks you to pay for handling expenses or to buy some tool in order to get access to a very convenient opportunity. Other telltale signs are:
- poorly written, unprofessional messages,
- requests to keep the exchange secret
- attempts to rush you into a decision
- too many non-essential details
Nigerian scam (back to top)
Scammers will send you a message apparently personalized (but in fact sent to many) promising an enormous amount in exchange for helping the scammer send a fortune (usually in the range of several million Dollars) out of their country (usually Nigeria or other African country). You are offered a large share of this fortune in exchange of their help.
If you reply and agree to play along then you will be asked to wire some money because some paperwork is needed or some corrupt official needs to be bribed. If this payment is made new problems will arise requiring the transfer of additional “small payments that will enable the immediate transfer of the promised fortune”. This will continue until you run out of money (or of patience), but some victims have been even enticed into traveling to the country (usually in Africa) to be kidnapped there.
Details differ but some frequent variances are:
- A bank clerk or government official who has stolen or found a fortune
- The relative of a deceased millionaire (usually a deposed dictator or someone killed in a dictatorship) who has access to a hidden inheritance.
- The executor of a large fortune belonging to someone terminally ill or already deceased, without descendants (next-of-kin variant).
- A soldier who hit upon a hidden treasure
- A lottery prize you won (even though you did not buy a ticket)
Advance payment / overpayment scam (back to top)
Scammer contacts you asking for your professional services. In may be the translation of a presentation or interpretation and/or language support during a business trip, either for the alleged visitor or for a relative that does not speak the languages. Scammer announces that payment will be via checks, traveler checks or money orders to be sent via email. Payment arrives promptly but the amount is much larger than the amount agreed upon. At this point the scammer will apologize for the administrative error and ask you to wire the difference either back to the scammer or to a third party. This transfer is requested via a wire service, usually via Western Union.
The checks or money orders used to pay you are forgeries, or stolen and they bounce even if originally accepted by your bank and you lose the amount you sent back (and may also have legal problems because of the bad checks you deposited in your bank).
- The service request comes from someone from outside the industry
- Syntax and spelling usually poor
- The message usually include non essential information
- In many cases the translation is requested for a presentation with the comment “so each participants can have a copy”
- Not clear how or why you were selected
- Payment is offered fully in advance, no counter guaranties requested from you
Variant: Cancelation of services
In this variant the scenario is similar and the amount of the payment is correct, but then the “outsourcer” contacts you apologizing for unexpected conditions that demand the cancelation of the project. You are asked to keep a generous portion of the money as compensation for the cancelation, and to send the difference back to the scammer or to a third party. Again you lose what you wired.
Variant: PayPal reimbursement
In this variant payment is made via PayPal and, once you wired the difference, the scammer requests reimbursement from PayPal claiming no receipt of services
Pay to work scams (back to top)
Scammer approaches you with the promise of many good and well paid jobs. They can be a portal that has lots of leads from clients that need a translator that looks a lot like you, or else an agency eager to start enjoying the pleasure of working with you.
Before you get access to this dream work you need to satisfy a condition that requires a payment from your part. Once you made that payment the promised jobs will never materialize.
Variant: The Translator jobs portal scam
A website that will offer an unlimited amount of high-pay translation opportunities available to you even if your management of language is not so good. No experience required, because the need of translators is so high that companies are begging people to translate for them. Only a membership fee keeps you away from this dreamland and you even have a satisfaction-warranty clause to recover your money. Look for their physical address in their website. Search translators forums for experiences in this kind of sites. People report getting no jobs and finding a dead circuit when they ask for their refund.
Variant: Translators association certification scam
Scammer contacts you as an agency offering you good jobs on the condition that you need to be certified by a certain translation association you never hear of before. Membership in this association costs a considerable amount of money. Once you paid said membership you send the corresponding information to the agency and you sit down waiting for jobs that will never arrive.
Variant: Tool required / Systran scam
Scammer contacts you as an agency offering you good jobs on the condition that you should have a given tool (usually Systran) and offering to sell you a strongly discounted license as a special opportunity to get your services. Once you paid for the tool you never receive it or heard back from the agency. (Note: Systran is a legitimate company and is not related in any way with the scammers.)
Secret Shopper / Western Union testing scam (back to top)
Scammer contacts you impersonating a service evaluation company such as Secret Shopper, allegedly to employ you as a tester of quality of the services of money transfer company, usually Western Union. You will receive a check,cash it, keep an amount per transaction as your fee and use the remaining money to make wire transfers to another contact in order to evaluate the service of the money transfer company and to report on them.
The checks or money orders used to pay you are forgeries, or stolen and they bounce even if originally accepted by your bank and you lose the amount you sent in the “test transfers” (and may also have legal problems because of the bad checks you deposited in your bank).
“Wallet lost abroad” scam (back to top)
Scammer contacts you impersonating some legitimate colleague or client and reporting that, while abroad, his/her wallet was lost and (s)he needs help to pay hotel and other critical bills. Time is pressing because plane home leaves soon and you are asked to lend money (usually via Western Union), to be sent back as soon as this contact manages to get safely back home.
The whole incident is bogus. The scammer has gained improper access to this legitimate contact’s email address and has used it to send the transfer request. If you transfer the money it will be cashed by the scammer.
“Employment abroad” scam (back to top)
Scammer contacts you offering a golden opportunity of employment abroad. Salary and perks are very attractive and working conditions are described as ideal.
- If you reply to the mail you will receive even better news and at some point you will be told that some small payment is needed due to red tape. A typical example is the request that you send a given amount to an account in London, to be reimbursed to you on the next day, as a requirement from the British government to test solvency of applicant before issuing a work visa. Obviously this is a fake requirement and after paying you can say goodbye to the payment and to the employment.
- Sometimes payment in advance is offered. You could expect to receive checks in excess of the promised account, see “Advance Payment / Overpayment” above.
Dating scam (back to top)
Scammers create a fake personality complete with pictures (young and attractive), personality and history and then contacts you expressing interest in exploring a possible romantic relationship. If you respond they will try to correspond regularly, discussing family, job, shared passions and other issues designed to earn your trust and affection.
Once the illusion of a genuine and meaningful relationship has been established, you will be asked for money, for instance to cover he cost of the airfare to meet you or a family medical emergency. If you comply you will receive further requests until the scam is uncovered.
Phishing “data verification” scam (back to top)
You get an email allegedly from a bank or other service provider claiming that due to some exceptional circumstance you need to reply supplying critical data to allow the supplier “to solve some critical problem that compromise the delivery of their service”. The alleged reason may be congestion of service, changes of the operational environment, detection of unlawful activities, etc. The email may have convincing graphics that emulate the look-and-feel of the alleged institution. The links may ask you for your user name and password of your Internet bank account.
The page is a fake created to steal your private information, that will be used afterwards for stealing from you or for impersonating you in order to steal from others. Some of the links can also direct you to dangerous places where you may get a virus or trojan.
As a rule, no serious organization of any kind will ever ask you to provide your password.
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Smart Money Alert By Ted Bauman Review, SCAM or Legit?
The Smart Money Alert by Ted Bauman has recently received much praise by the Sovereign Society daily investor alerts. We have received a few complaints about this service, and decided to conduct a full review and investigation as requested by our subscribers. This is not the usual scam review and has more to do with traditional financial scams and deceptions, and less with binary AKA exotic or digital options. Ted Bauman is relative well-known and the editor of the Sovereign Society, so we will try our utmost to present the facts without any form of prejudice or false claims as this is the mandate which has been given to us by our members. If you have signed up for this service and are unhappy with the results, please contact us immediately and we shall try to assist you to remedy your situation. We have received documents and verified information from actual clients claiming this service is a SCAM, so that was enough to warrant an investigation, but our findings and conclusions have lead us to different conclusions. Keep reading to see if the Smart Money Alert is a SCAM or genuine service which actually helps you profit consistently.
Official Website, Members Area, and Purchase Page: http://sovereignsociety.com/smart-money-alert
Proof of Potential SCAM – Latest Evidence and Findings
Here we see a screenshot of an excerpt taken from Sovereign Society providing a snapshot of Mr. Ted Bauman’s service. I do believe these are hyped-up claims since I personally have never seen any system that never loses, but that is the least disturbing aspect of this sales pitch. Here they claim it “just takes 10 minutes a month to trade”, and it “would almost never lose money”.
Our experience has taught us that these forms of hyped up claims are usually designed to bait and deceive potential customers, so we are extremely skeptic when reading these catchy sound bites. In the image below we can also see Bauman literally saying he will “double the market gains” for you.
These claims are illustrated in the image below, but our common sense tells us this is most likely not true. The charts paint a very rosy picture of how his system beat the stock market and performed “90% higher than the S&P 500”. Additionally Bauman, a relative small fish claims he has outperformed Berkshire Hathaway which is owned by Warren Buffett AKA The Oracle from Omaha. This is very difficult to accept, and while his system may actually do a good job, the way the information is presented makes it look very dodgy.
As opposed to the regular scams we have been accustomed to, this is completely different because it is based on a subscription model. Still, it is very expensive and they would have to produce extremely valuable trading information to justify this expense. You can see below that they charge $795 for a 1 year membership and $495 for a 6 month trial.
Other Viral SCAMS to Avoid:
The ones topping the charts these days are Blazing Trader, Profits Unlimited, and Orion Code.
We are witnessing a virtual epidemic of fake reviews hitting the markets. Its true that many affiliate marketers are posing as legit site owners and taking bribes to write favorable reviews. So be extra careful and always look for the disclaimers.
Signals Versus Auto-traders
We are constantly being inundated with endorsement requests, however we decline the vast majority of the offers sent our way. Fortunately for you we have compiled the best and most consistent money-making machines, and these are all proudly showcased in our recommended section.
Review Summary and Conclusions
The Smart Money Alert by Ted Bauman and the Sovereign Society is clearly NOT a SCAM and seems to be genuine, but it does make frequent use of very well-known scam tactics specifically hyped up claims, and various deceptive or false advertising tactics. We have taken the liberty of calling these people up , and we received a proper response from a real person. The address is real, and so are the people behind it. But we did miss the money-back guarantee clause as this is the ultimate seal of approval anyone can ask for – and its NOT there. However, we are not dealing with actors or fictitious characters, and the service is legit at face value, so in this sense we are not endorsing it but also refraining from blacklisting this service. To learn more join our Facebook Page and YouTube channel.
Gift Card Fraud Prevention
Tips to Help Avoid Gift Card Fraud
- Walmart Gift Cards can only be used at Walmart stores or Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, or on-line at Vudu, Inc., Walmart.com or Samsclub.com. No legitimate government entity, including the IRS, Treasury Department, FBI or local police department, will accept any form of gift cards as payment.
- Other businesses do not accept payments in the form of Walmart Gift Cards. For example, you will never be asked to pay your utility bills, bail money, debt collection and hospital bills with Walmart Gift Cards.
- Do not purchase, sell, or check your balance on online marketplaces outside of Walmart.com.
- If you get a call from a stranger who says that a loved one is in trouble and they ask you to provide gift card numbers to help them, hang up and contact your loved one directly.
- Don’t always trust your caller ID. Scammers can manipulate a caller ID to look like a legitimate company or government agency.
- Don’t purchase a gift card if it appears that the packaging has been altered or manipulated. If you have questions about a gift card, ask someone who works at that store.
- Don’t click on or respond to online ads or websites offering free gift cards. These are often scams.
- If you think you’ve been the victim of a gift card scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov .
Common Gift Card Scams
The Grandparent Scam
In this scam, the scammer will call a victim and indicate that a loved one is in some sort of trouble (i.e. kidnapped, arrested, etc.). Sometimes, the scammer pretends to be a lawyer or the loved one themselves and asks directly for money. The scammer then instructs the victim to purchase gift cards and give the gift card numbers to the scammer over the phone.
The Tech Support Scam
Perpetrators of tech support scams try to trick victims into believing their computers are infected and they need help. Some scammers pretend to be connected with Microsoft, Apple or a familiar security software company such as Norton or McAfee, and claim to have detected malware that poses an imminent threat to the person’s computer. Other scams feature planted website ads or pop-ups that display warning messages, some even featuring a clock ticking down the minutes before the victim’s hard drive will be destroyed by a virus — unless he or she calls a toll-free number for assistance in deactivating the menace. Such scammers will often ask for remote access to your computer to run phony diagnostic tests and pretend to discover defects in need of fixing. They’ll pressure you to pay for unnecessary repairs or new software, and ask for payment via gift cards.
Avoid Being the Victim of a Scam
Reporting Suspicious Behavior
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Report IRS impersonation scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml or call 800-366-4484.
- If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Contact the FTC, which handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To file a complaint, visit https://ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ , call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to: Federal Trade Commission, CRC-240, Washington, D.C. 20580.
- For updates on other types of potential scams, check out the FTC’s “scam alert” website at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts .
Government Impostor Scam
Scammers sometimes pretend to be government officials to get you to send them money. They might promise lottery winnings if you pay “taxes” or other fees, or they might threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit if you don’t pay a supposed debt. Regardless of their tactics, their goal is the same: to get you to send them money.
During tax season, scammers pretend to be from the IRS or other Government Agencies to scare customers into sending them money. They trick people into believing they owe taxes to the IRS. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation, or loss of a business or driver’s license. They ask the victims to go to Walmart to send a money transfer or to put the money on a prepaid card or gift card.
In reality, the IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. The IRS or any other government agency, such as prisons or jails, won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card, gift cards, or money transfers. The agency also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.
Common Tactics Used by Callers Committing Fraud
- They use common names and fake IRS badge numbers
- They know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number
- They make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling
- They send bogus IRS emails to support their scam
- They call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV, and caller ID again supports their claim
What You Need to Know
- If you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions
- If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484
- You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov . Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint
How to Protect Yourself
Be alert for phone and email scams that use the IRS name or other Government Agencies
The IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media. You should forward scam emails to [email protected] . Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails
Coronavirus Vaccine Scam:
Beware, scammers may be targeting customers asking them to send money in order to reserve a Coronavirus vaccine. If you’re asked to wire money, provide a money order or load a prepaid/gift card to pay to reserve a Coronavirus vaccine, it is not legitimate.
A fraud method in which the fraudster sends out a legitimate-looking email in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients. The scammer sends an email to an unsuspecting customer that may look just like a legitimate Walmart email (including use of the Walmart logo.) If the customer falls for the bait (thus the “fishing” reference), the thief could get credit card numbers, PINs, account passwords, expiration dates, credit card/bank account numbers and even Social Security numbers. Learn more about phishing. Learn more about phishing.
Vishing is very similar to “phishing” but instead of occurring through email, vishing happens over the phone. In these scams, fraudsters pose as a trusted retailer or bank and obtain personal information from the customer by requesting they “verify” the information on file. The information gained is then used for fraudulent transactions.
A good rule of thumb: If someone is contacting you to verify your personal information, it is very likely you did not provide it to them in the first place, and it is not a legitimate request. Legitimate companies will not expect you to provide your social security number or other personal information when they call you. If you receive a call like this, do not provide any information. If in doubt, call back a trusted number for the company, such as the one on a statement or invoice, the back of your credit/debit card, or on their official website (Do not use the phone number provided by the person on the phone or sent through a suspicious email.) Learn more about vishing.
A combination of the terms “SMS” and “phishing.” It is similar to phishing, but refers to fraudulent messages sent over SMS (text messaging) rather than email. The fraudster may text you saying you’ve won a free gift card. Remember, you can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. Walmart doesn’t notify winners of any contest via text message. Learn more about smishing .
Tips to Avoid These Scams
- Never provide personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or internet. A trusted company will never ask a customer for highly sensitive information during a call they initiated. A financial institution may ask for the account holder’s partial Social Security Number for verification, but they will never ask for the entire Social Security Number, account number or PIN.
- Do not respond to any suspicious looking email, automated calls, or text messages.
- Don’t trust the Caller ID. Fraudsters can manipulate the Caller ID to have it display a legitimate business’ name. To be safe, you can check to see if the phone number matches the number that appears on your bank statement, credit/debit card, or on their official website.
- Avoid fraudulent sites by entering web addresses directly into the browser yourself or by using bookmarks you create. Do not click on links in emails that you did not directly request from a company or that look suspicious.
- If you have fallen victim to such a scam, contact your financial institution immediately to protect your accounts.
Don’t respond or reply to an email, phone call, or text message that:
- Requires you to supply personal or account information directly in the email
- Requires you to click on a link to provide more personal or account information
- Threatens to close or suspend your account if you do not take immediate action
- Invites you to answer a survey that asks you to enter personal or account information
- States that your account has been compromised or that there has been third-party activity on your account, then asks you to enter or confirm your personal or account information
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