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Concern about a possible scam I've gotten involved in
Thread poster: Kristof Haavik

Kristof Haavik  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:59
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
Aug 15

I'm concerned because a job I'm working on now has had a number of... oddities about it from the beginning. Maybe someone can give me advice. I'm worried because (1) the client contacted me directly (not through Proz) with a job offer but never answered my question about where he got my contact info; (2) offered to pay for the whole job (15,000 words) ahead of time--which would be great, but does anyone really do that? (3) disappeared for weeks despite several messages I sent; (4) finally rea... See more
I'm concerned because a job I'm working on now has had a number of... oddities about it from the beginning. Maybe someone can give me advice. I'm worried because (1) the client contacted me directly (not through Proz) with a job offer but never answered my question about where he got my contact info; (2) offered to pay for the whole job (15,000 words) ahead of time--which would be great, but does anyone really do that? (3) disappeared for weeks despite several messages I sent; (4) finally reappeared saying his customer had had a death in the family and telling me there was another part of the job upcoming, and that he would want to see how well I did the first part before giving me the second, but then said a check had already been sent for the whole amount, including the later section he wasn't yet hiring me for. I don't think he has any information that would let him hack my bank account or anything like that, but I've had someone take a translation and run away with it unpaid, presumably to sell my work as his own, and I don't want it to happen again. None of this is clear proof of dishonesty, but the whole thing has felt funny from the start. Am I allowed to post the client's name here and ask if anyone knows about him? Any other advice?Collapse


 

Tony M
France
Local time: 12:59
Member
French to English
+ ...
Classic overpayment scam Aug 15

I'm afraid it sounds like you've been caught!

This smells extremely like the classic overpayment scam: in particular, the failure of the "client" to provide verifiable ID, and the eagerness to pay up front and by cheque — always a big red flag!

They will send you a check for an amount that is too large, then later say there was some mistake, and please could you refund the over-payment, always by Western Union or some other cash transfer mechanism. Being honest, the v
... See more
I'm afraid it sounds like you've been caught!

This smells extremely like the classic overpayment scam: in particular, the failure of the "client" to provide verifiable ID, and the eagerness to pay up front and by cheque — always a big red flag!

They will send you a check for an amount that is too large, then later say there was some mistake, and please could you refund the over-payment, always by Western Union or some other cash transfer mechanism. Being honest, the victim will cash the cheque and then comply with this request, sending their own money, believing the cheque has gone into their bank account. Only later will they learn from their bank that it was a fake, and the amount will be debited from their account.

Worse, you could be held responsible for participating in a money-laundering scheme, passing fake cheques, etc.

DON'T send your translation, which I'm afraid you've wasted your time doing.
DON'T cash any check that arrives, but report it at once to the local police.
And of course, whatever you do DON'T send them any money!

This shows that when receiving a job, you really must perform "due diligence" by checking out the identity and legitimacy of the "client", and insist on a reliable method of payment; never accept cheques from anyone, particularly anyone overseas.

You may not name the person in this forum, but you should report them privately to the scam alerting centre; there are also other places on the 'Net where you can add them to a list of scammers. If they use one of the free e-mail providers like gmail etc., that is another strong warning sign; giving irrelevant personal information like a death, cancer, etc. is also a warning sign. .

[Edited at 2019-08-15 06:08 GMT]
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Kristof Haavik  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:59
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your advice Aug 15

I think you're probably right. I was already planning not to send the translation until I receive payment (which is not normal practice, but since they said they would do it that way, I was going to hold them to it) and to have my bank make sure the check is good before I do anything. Can't they determine--if not immediately, still in a day or two in today's interconnected world--whether the check is valid or bounces if I give it to them? In the (increasingly unlikely) event that it is good, ... See more
I think you're probably right. I was already planning not to send the translation until I receive payment (which is not normal practice, but since they said they would do it that way, I was going to hold them to it) and to have my bank make sure the check is good before I do anything. Can't they determine--if not immediately, still in a day or two in today's interconnected world--whether the check is valid or bounces if I give it to them? In the (increasingly unlikely) event that it is good, things would be safe and my fears would be proven wrong, wouldn't they?Collapse


 

Tony M
France
Local time: 12:59
Member
French to English
+ ...
Sadly, no! Aug 15

We have heard reports of the bank's rejecting the cheque up to 2 or 3 months later, when the forgery comes to light.
Depending on the banking regs in your country, the banks have a certain "window" within which they can withdraw a payment, and so you'd have to wait that long.

I guess the trouble is probably that it is not actually an obviously fake cheque, but a genuine "blank" (I'm sure there must be security breaches at times!), and so they have to wait for it to physically
... See more
We have heard reports of the bank's rejecting the cheque up to 2 or 3 months later, when the forgery comes to light.
Depending on the banking regs in your country, the banks have a certain "window" within which they can withdraw a payment, and so you'd have to wait that long.

I guess the trouble is probably that it is not actually an obviously fake cheque, but a genuine "blank" (I'm sure there must be security breaches at times!), and so they have to wait for it to physically clear (almost always through an African bank), with postal delays etc., and then they have to wait for a definitive response from the drawing bank, who no doubt have to do some investigation to confirm the fake. Etc. etc.
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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:59
Member
English to French
Not probably Aug 15

Kristof Haavik wrote:

I think you're probably right. I was already planning not to send the translation until I receive payment (which is not normal practice, but since they said they would do it that way, I was going to hold them to it) and to have my bank make sure the check is good before I do anything. Can't they determine--if not immediately, still in a day or two in today's interconnected world--whether the check is valid or bounces if I give it to them? In the (increasingly unlikely) event that it is good, things would be safe and my fears would be proven wrong, wouldn't they?

This scheme has been discussed countless times on this forum and elsewhere since the inception of Internet. You should spot it from step 2, or even 1.
Besides translation work, I've been targeted on a second-hand selling site. If you use Internet for commercial transactions, you must be aware of the associated rogue approaches.

Philippe


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Kristof Haavik  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:59
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes Aug 15

Once again, I'm afraid you're probably right. If it indeed takes that long, I won't do anything until I have assurances that the check is genuine. Which means pulling the plug on the whole thing. They haven't gotten any money from me, and they won't, but they did waste my time. Unless by some miracle the thing turns out to be genuine, but that's looking less and less likely.

Michelle Oviedo
 

Kristof Haavik  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:59
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Scam board Aug 15

I haven't looked at the scam discussion board before, obviously, or I might have recognized it sooner, but it seemed suspicious from the the beginning. Forgive me if this is also the kind of thing I'm not supposed to post here, and if a reprimand is due I will accept one without arguing, but would it serve any purpose (other than making me feel better) to tell them I will have their legs broken if they try to defraud me? On a more practical level, is there some law enforcement agency that deal... See more
I haven't looked at the scam discussion board before, obviously, or I might have recognized it sooner, but it seemed suspicious from the the beginning. Forgive me if this is also the kind of thing I'm not supposed to post here, and if a reprimand is due I will accept one without arguing, but would it serve any purpose (other than making me feel better) to tell them I will have their legs broken if they try to defraud me? On a more practical level, is there some law enforcement agency that deals with such cases?Collapse


 

Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:59
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
translator-scammers.com Aug 15

Tony M wrote:
You may not name the person in this forum, but you should report them privately to the scam alerting centre; there are also other places on the 'Net where you can add them to a list of scammers. If they use one of the free e-mail providers like gmail etc., that is another strong warning sign; giving irrelevant personal information like a death, cancer, etc. is also a warning sign.

[Edited at 2019-08-15 06:08 GMT]


Have a look at this one,

http://www.translator-scammers.com/translator-scammers-directory.htm

Scroll down to the 'Read this First' section, where a comprehensive list of scammers can be downloaded (.pdf file).


writeaway
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Kristof Haavik  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:59
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes Aug 15

Yes, I saw that; thank you. I also saw messages where people gave the specific e-mail address from which they had been contacted; is that not allowed any more? Either way, since I'm obviously new to this, how do I go about reporting it as you recommend?

 

Davide Leone  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:59
Member (2015)
English to Italian
+ ...
it's a fake check Aug 15

Kristof Haavik wrote:

I think you're probably right. I was already planning not to send the translation until I receive payment (which is not normal practice, but since they said they would do it that way, I was going to hold them to it) and to have my bank make sure the check is good before I do anything. Can't they determine--if not immediately, still in a day or two in today's interconnected world--whether the check is valid or bounces if I give it to them? In the (increasingly unlikely) event that it is good, things would be safe and my fears would be proven wrong, wouldn't they?


It sounds like an over-payment scheme which is done with a fake check.
Go to the bank the check that you received from the potential scammer was drawn from. They will let you know immediately whether the check is good or not. DO NOT deposit the check at your bank.
The same problem happened to me some time ago. I was paid with a fake Citibank check, and because of some red flags which were raised prior to receiving the check, I already suspected that the check was fake. So instead of depositing the check at my bank, I went to a local Citibank branch, and I asked to speak with the branch manager. I showed him the check, and he told me right away that the check was fake. He knew that the check was fake from the first glance. Then, to make sure, he verified with his computer the bank account written on the check, and he couldn't find it in the system.
Lucky for me that I didn't even start the translation, because the whole deal smelled fishy since the beginning (more or less the same situation that you described in your original post).
In time you will learn how to detect a scammer ever since you receive their first contact, and you will learn to steer clear from them.
Sorry that you spend so much time working on a translation you won't get paid for (at least not with a legitimate check), but I know that through this ordeal you will learn a lesson that will be useful for the future.
Good luck with everything.

[Edited at 2019-08-15 10:47 GMT]


Diana Obermeyer
 

Kristof Haavik  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:59
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 15

Thanks for your help. I was holding off on doing the proofreading, and I'm glad I did, so they didn't put me through as much useless work as they might have. I didn't realize there was a board specifically devoted to scams, or I would have come here sooner. But if they send a check drawn on a bank that doesn't exist where I am, what do I do next? If you're in the United States, do the FBI or Treasury Department deal with matters like this?

 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:59
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Just move on Aug 15

Kristof Haavik wrote:

Thanks for your help. I was holding off on doing the proofreading, and I'm glad I did, so they didn't put me through as much useless work as they might have. I didn't realize there was a board specifically devoted to scams, or I would have come here sooner. But if they send a check drawn on a bank that doesn't exist where I am, what do I do next? If you're in the United States, do the FBI or Treasury Department deal with matters like this?


Honestly, this is such a typical scam these days that I doubt the authorities would investigate every individual case.
You asked what you should do.
1. Stop all communication with the scammers.
2. Shred the fake check.
3. Stop wondering about what if the check is genuine. It is not.
4. Move on.


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Kristof Haavik  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:59
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good advice Aug 15

I'm sure that's good advice. But if those clowns expect to have money sent to them by Western Union or some such thing, wouldn't that put them in a determined location where they could be intercepted by law enforcement when they go to pick it up? As you can tell, I'd feel better if I gave them a kick in the rear end before I walk away.

 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:59
German to English
Thousands of Western Union agents Aug 15

Kristof Haavik wrote:

I'm sure that's good advice. But if those clowns expect to have money sent to them by Western Union or some such thing, wouldn't that put them in a determined location where they could be intercepted by law enforcement when they go to pick it up? As you can tell, I'd feel better if I gave them a kick in the rear end before I walk away.


My sleepy Midwestern college town has over 20 Western Union agents (practically every 7-11 store), many of which are bank branches which could handle payment of large amounts. There's no way to monitor all of these in my town alone, much less the rest of the world. Best to develop due diligence skills to avoid future incidents.


Davide Leone
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 12:59
Member (2016)
English to German
You need to know the qualities of payment methods Aug 15

Kristof Haavik wrote:

I'm sure that's good advice. But if those clowns expect to have money sent to them by Western Union or some such thing, wouldn't that put them in a determined location where they could be intercepted by law enforcement when they go to pick it up? As you can tell, I'd feel better if I gave them a kick in the rear end before I walk away.


Kristof, it seems that you need to learn more about the different qualities of payment methods. Western Union is notorious for being an anonymous payment service where the receiver can pick up the money in any forlorn corner of the world, never to be seen again. Like Bitcoin, paysafecards and other anonymous payment methods, these are used by people who do not wish to be found. That does not necessarily mean that they are used only by criminals, but you should definitely know what you are doing when you pay or accept payments via these methods.

And the same goes for checks: Accepting a check from a person you know only by an email address is like begging to be swindled.


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