SCAM alert + Questions about scammers
Thread poster: Emily Zomoroudi

Emily Zomoroudi
United States
Local time: 03:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 25

"Brenda Owens" (brendaowens639@gmail.com) tried to scam me, and it almost worked. I am a foreign language student and a novice translator, so I was probably an easy target. I unfortunately replied to them, and did 21/52 pages requested (I was planning on finishing half before requesting 50% of the price, but now I know to ask for a 50-60% deposit BEFORE I start translating... at least it was good practice for me to do some translating, even if the document itself was poorly formatted and written... See more
"Brenda Owens" (brendaowens639@gmail.com) tried to scam me, and it almost worked. I am a foreign language student and a novice translator, so I was probably an easy target. I unfortunately replied to them, and did 21/52 pages requested (I was planning on finishing half before requesting 50% of the price, but now I know to ask for a 50-60% deposit BEFORE I start translating... at least it was good practice for me to do some translating, even if the document itself was poorly formatted and written.) until I stopped to investigate some more before working extra hard to meet their one month deadline. I luckily did not give them any of my information after they kept insisting on paying me with a check, instead of complying with my safer alternative requests.

Here is their email:
I'm pleased to know you are interested in handling this project.However, I will require your service to translate the attached document. In the mean time, could you also confirm your charges per page, per source word or for the entire translation? The deadline for this Project is 1 month starting from 04 JULY-2019.

Finally, what would be your preferred mode of payment? Though I'm proposing a certified bank draft, a cashier check or bank certified check. Please do not hesitate to confirm if this is okay with you? I look forward to reading from you soon.

Best Regards

Watch out for anyone with the IP address 209.85.220.65 (you can find an IP through gmail), anyone named Brenda Owens, or anyone who is requesting you to translate "Investigación de los Procedimientos de una Organización Publicas."


Now, some questions I have...

Is the check they send you real? If you can deposit it and it gets cleared by your bank after a few days, won't you be able to spend it immediately?

And if it is real, wouldn't you be able to put the scammer in their place by refusing to return the check? If I put something in my profile that warns clients that I won't send "accidentally" overpaid checks back under any circumstance, they wouldn't be able to fight that, right?

What's the point of doing these scams? From what I've read, I don't think this person gets any extra money, but rather they just make the translator suffer bank account legalities. Aren't scammers trying to get more than they put in?
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Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 06:16
Romanian to English
+ ...
Sorry to hear that, but you should stay informed and read the SCAM section at least once a week Jul 26

Emily Zomoroudi wrote:

"Brenda Owens" (brendaowens639@gmail.com) tried to scam me, and it almost worked. I am a foreign language student and a novice translator, so I was probably an easy target. I unfortunately replied to them, and did 21/52 pages requested (I was planning on finishing half before requesting 50% of the price, but now I know to ask for a 50-60% deposit BEFORE I start translating... at least it was good practice for me to do some translating, even if the document itself was poorly formatted and written.) until I stopped to investigate some more before working extra hard to meet their one month deadline. I luckily did not give them any of my information after they kept insisting on paying me with a check, instead of complying with my safer alternative requests.

Here is their email:
I'm pleased to know you are interested in handling this project.However, I will require your service to translate the attached document. In the mean time, could you also confirm your charges per page, per source word or for the entire translation? The deadline for this Project is 1 month starting from 04 JULY-2019.

Finally, what would be your preferred mode of payment? Though I'm proposing a certified bank draft, a cashier check or bank certified check. Please do not hesitate to confirm if this is okay with you? I look forward to reading from you soon.

Best Regards

Watch out for anyone with the IP address 209.85.220.65 (you can find an IP through gmail), anyone named Brenda Owens, or anyone who is requesting you to translate "Investigación de los Procedimientos de una Organización Publicas."


Now, some questions I have...

Is the check they send you real? If you can deposit it and it gets cleared by your bank after a few days, won't you be able to spend it immediately?

And if it is real, wouldn't you be able to put the scammer in their place by refusing to return the check? If I put something in my profile that warns clients that I won't send "accidentally" overpaid checks back under any circumstance, they wouldn't be able to fight that, right?

What's the point of doing these scams? From what I've read, I don't think this person gets any extra money, but rather they just make the translator suffer bank account legalities. Aren't scammers trying to get more than they put in?





To give you a few answers to your questions:

The ”cashiers check” is fake, sometimes very well done. Always look for the bank's watermark.

A sloppy bank teller may accept your check and your account will show that it cleared. It takes one to two weeks to really get cleared by the bank. .. and you get in trouble.

The scammers don't care. They send thousands of fake checks. If 1% fall for the scam, they walk away with a couple of thousands USD.

It is the classical overpayment scam. I remember a couple years ago, after one scammer sent me the fake check, all of the sudden, three different (3) scammers claimed the money. Hilarious!

As I mentioned numerous times, the scammer industry plays the numbers. If less than 1% of recipients fall for the scam, the scammers get a hefty amount. Once a scammer bragged that he made $20,000 in one day!

Best is not to engage them. Even if you let them know that you are aware of the scam, your e-mail address ends up on their forum on the dark web where these scams (offers and names) are sold and bought.

Stay safe,
Lee


Kevin Fulton
 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:16
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Overpayment scam 101 Jul 26

The scammer makes money by exchanging his "bad", nonexistent money (fake bank check) for your "good", real money (your refund of the excess payment).
And yes, your bank will credit your account after you deposit the check as long the check doesn't look obviously fake, and then remove the money from your account - or demand you repay it if you've already spent the money - when the check inevitably bounces after a few weeks.

I have noted that recent posts on this subject have so
... See more
The scammer makes money by exchanging his "bad", nonexistent money (fake bank check) for your "good", real money (your refund of the excess payment).
And yes, your bank will credit your account after you deposit the check as long the check doesn't look obviously fake, and then remove the money from your account - or demand you repay it if you've already spent the money - when the check inevitably bounces after a few weeks.

I have noted that recent posts on this subject have sometimes said that the victim was "wired" the incoming funds, which doesn't make much sense since true wire transfers, like Western Union, essentially clear instantly and can't be faked, reversed, or sent using non-existent funds. I suspect in these cases the victim is simply mistaken, or confused by the scammer perhaps using the term "wire", or received some kind of e-check that only seems like a wire because it is processed electronically. Beware, as the scammers are always varying and refining their approach.
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Liviu-Lee Roth
Colleen Roach, PhD
 

Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:16
English to Czech
+ ...
Wire is generally safe but not 100% scam-proof Jul 26

LEXpert wrote:

I have noted that recent posts on this subject have sometimes said that the victim was "wired" the incoming funds, which doesn't make much sense since true wire transfers, like Western Union, essentially clear instantly and can't be faked, reversed, or sent using non-existent funds. I suspect in these cases the victim is simply mistaken, or confused by the scammer perhaps using the term "wire", or received some kind of e-check that only seems like a wire because it is processed electronically. Beware, as the scammers are always varying and refining their approach.




I think you may mean those cases where the scammer appeared in the bank with a fake cheque posing AS THE ACCOUNT OWNER and cashed it directly into the account. I remember two people writing about it on this forum. I think this will then look like a wire in your internet banking.
Or another possibility is that they cash a fake check into their account and then send you a wire. Then they close their account before the cheque bounces. It's been discussed in another thread some months ago.

Though I don't mean to spread any panic here, I also believe wires are generally safe. In these rare cases when they aren't there's surely plenty of other red flags to put you on alert.


Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Trudy Stull  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:16
Member (Jul 2019)
Spanish to English
Novice here too, and almost got scammed this way too--don't feel too bad. =) Jul 27

Just wanted to let you know I almost fell for the same/a similar scam. =P Dude gave me a 58 page doc to translate and immediately agreed to send a cashier's check. I didn't do much work on the translation because I was a little bit iffy about how he was contacting me (not logged in through ProZ, used a different email after initial contact, etc). I was excited because I thought it would be my first real project, and then I got the exact same email (word for word, even same minor grammar mistakes... See more
Just wanted to let you know I almost fell for the same/a similar scam. =P Dude gave me a 58 page doc to translate and immediately agreed to send a cashier's check. I didn't do much work on the translation because I was a little bit iffy about how he was contacting me (not logged in through ProZ, used a different email after initial contact, etc). I was excited because I thought it would be my first real project, and then I got the exact same email (word for word, even same minor grammar mistakes) as the original one this person sent, except the due date and sender's name had changed.

It's bad enough they're trying to steal our money, but wasting our time with these long documents is especially gross. Sorry someone tried to mess with you. Just wanted you to know I definitely feel your pain lol. =)
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Richard Henshell  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:16
French to English
Don't believe the IP! Aug 22

I was contacted by the same scammer that targeted you Emily.

It appears brendaowens639@gmail.com has become susanwalker818@gmail.com and probably 100 other addresses. I am sure these are real names, even if the email accounts are all burners. What's more, these scammers have quite good English and disguise their location via VPNs. In all likelihood they do some p
... See more
I was contacted by the same scammer that targeted you Emily.

It appears brendaowens639@gmail.com has become susanwalker818@gmail.com and probably 100 other addresses. I am sure these are real names, even if the email accounts are all burners. What's more, these scammers have quite good English and disguise their location via VPNs. In all likelihood they do some prep for each scam to ensure that a cursory googling doesn't lead victims to doubt the job. They are organised though at heart it remains a simple dodgy cheque scam. Don't accept cheques.

And remember to ask for the client's phone number. Phone numbers are harder to fake than IPs. And for men, women's voices are even harder to fake and a potential source of great merriment for victims.


[Edited at 2019-08-22 15:39 GMT]
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Fei Ge  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:16
Member (2012)
Chinese to English
+ ...
beware of Xuan Lee Capital Aug 22

LEXpert wrote:

The scammer makes money by exchanging his "bad", nonexistent money (fake bank check) for your "good", real money (your refund of the excess payment).
And yes, your bank will credit your account after you deposit the check as long the check doesn't look obviously fake, and then remove the money from your account - or demand you repay it if you've already spent the money - when the check inevitably bounces after a few weeks.

I have noted that recent posts on this subject have sometimes said that the victim was "wired" the incoming funds, which doesn't make much sense since true wire transfers, like Western Union, essentially clear instantly and can't be faked, reversed, or sent using non-existent funds. I suspect in these cases the victim is simply mistaken, or confused by the scammer perhaps using the term "wire", or received some kind of e-check that only seems like a wire because it is processed electronically. Beware, as the scammers are always varying and refining their approach.




Then people please beware of Xuan Lee Capital. They sound legit with kind of well put website and their extensive though obviously fake interviewing process. They then ask you to buy a mini office including the latest gear that they will pay you up front for.


 

Paweł Hamerski
Poland
Local time: 12:16
English to Polish
+ ...
Why I should beware of them? Aug 22

I am not afraid to laugh after receiving their offer for a mini office I do not have a need for.

 

Maria Hansford  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:16
Member (2017)
English to Italian
+ ...
Have you ever heard of jenifferbelcher857@gmail.com Aug 25

She contacted me about a translation job and after I sent her a quote she sent me this email:
Hello,

"Your price seems relatively low compared to other translators and I really appreciate that. The delivery date is okay

50% of the payment will be sent upfront so you can proceed with the translation as soon as your receive the payment and the balance upon completion of the project.

However, my preferred mode of payment is to make a wire transfer or ba
... See more
She contacted me about a translation job and after I sent her a quote she sent me this email:
Hello,

"Your price seems relatively low compared to other translators and I really appreciate that. The delivery date is okay

50% of the payment will be sent upfront so you can proceed with the translation as soon as your receive the payment and the balance upon completion of the project.

However, my preferred mode of payment is to make a wire transfer or bank transfer to your account and all that is needed now is your bank details.

For wire transfer / bank transfer
Beneficiary Name
Bank Name:
Your address
Account Number:
Routing Number
Your Cell Phone Number:"

She didn't sign it!!!!!

[Edited at 2019-08-25 19:00 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-08-25 19:01 GMT]
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Viva969
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The "who" is irrelevant; the "what" is important. Aug 25

Maria Hansford wrote:
Have you ever heard of jenifferbelcher857@gmail.com
She contacted me about a translation job

Her name really isn't at all important as it won't be her real name and the email could equally well have been sent by a man anyway. It's the classic advance payment scam, I'm afraid.


DZiW
Maria Hansford
Kevin Fulton
Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Viva969
Canada
Local time: 06:16
English to Italian
got an email from a jenifferbelcher857@gmail.com ....I am just starting with translation Aug 26

how do i know 100% of a legit outsourcer?

 

Paweł Hamerski
Poland
Local time: 12:16
English to Polish
+ ...
It is easy. You call him/her, see if he wants to pay by checque only and Aug 26

why he wants to translate something stupid (mentioned as scam subject here or elsewhere) which was already translated into this language (never mind if what you say is true or not) and you will see.

Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Risk Management for all client contacts Aug 26

Viva969 wrote:
how do i know 100% of a legit outsourcer?

You need to perform due diligence, defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary as "action that is considered reasonable for people to be expected to take in order to keep themselves or others and their property safe" and in the particular business sense as "the detailed examination of a company and its financial records, done before becoming involved in a business arrangement with it".
There are a million and one possibilities for checking things. You won't need to do them all if you aren't risking much. The more you're risking the more checks you need to do, and the more you smell potential trouble the more checks you need to do. Doing those checks has meant that (touch wood ) I'm far from alone in being able to say that in 20+ years I've never lost a cent to a scammer (i.e. I've never lost anything more than the time taken to check them out and exchange emails -- which is something I don't invoice for directly). But on the other hand, anyone who's totally risk-averse should never consider becoming self-employed.

Firstly, before you accept any job at all, check out the Scam Centre here: https://www.proz.com/about/translator-scam-alerts . Learn all about the various scams and sign up for alerts about new ones.

Consider why the client contacted you. If you're very inexperienced, is it likely they'd rush to accept your quote for thousands of words and in particular would they really WANT to pay in advance? If you're contacted here just after you registered, how did they come to find your profile in the first place out of the hundreds of thousands registered users and why did it entice them? That's the time to Google for the word "scam" along with their email address and/or their company or personal name. Google for the text of whatever they want translated too.

Consider how the client contacted you. If there's a name given, are you sure they really do represent that person/company? Beware of identity theft. Contact them via their profile on this or another site to be sure you're talking to the right person or find their official details (e.g. their country's national register of companies - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_company_registers ) and contact them using those details.

Then, for each new contact, check out their reputation on the Blue Board, on similar portals, and by Googling. If there's more than an isolated instance of negative feedback then they're probably best avoided. If they have no online reputation they may not be scammers but you do need to do more checks. If they have pages and pages of perfect feedback but the comments often say things like "there was a slight glitch in payment" then you're probably looking at a client who deals mostly with very needy freelancers who are far from happy but don't want to risk losing this large-volume client.

Above all, engage a potential client in email exchanges, both to have a better idea of what they're like (develop a nose for good and bad clients) and to gather all the information you absolutely must have before starting the first minute of paid work. Do NOT start work with nothing but an email address -- ever. You need:
- Business name and registered address
- Tax reference if required by your authorities
- Contact name (first and family name), job title if appropriate, and preferably an alternative means of contact to the email address being used
And you need to reach agreement in writing on the volume and rate per unit (e.g. word count and rate per word), total fee, currency, deliverable(s), delivery deadline, payment method, responsibility for any third party fees, and payment deadline.
You can have a lengthy contract or you can condense the above into a couple of sentences of an email and ask for their agreement, which is what I do. It's just as contractual in most jurisdictions.

If you've done most or all of the above and they seem to check out, you may feel as though you've invested a lot of "free" time and effort in the client and so should now accept the job to get some return on that investment. But if you're still feeling there's something fishy about them, listen to that feeling. There's still time to pull out.


Kevin Fulton
Tradupro17
Liviu-Lee Roth
DZiW
 


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