Every industry has a dark side. For the translation industry, that means translation scammers. Knowing who these scammers are and what they do is the best way to avoid and fight against them.
WHO ARE TRANSLATION SCAMMERS?
Unfortunately, a translation scammer is not easy to identify. Anyone with a Wi-Fi connection, a rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop and a criminal mind can enter the game. Translation scammers work either individually or in organized groups.
While scammers are all over the world, some of the most infamous gangs are based in Gaza, Palestine and in Italy. The website, www.translator-scammers.com, has a full list of the names, email addresses and identifiers that scammers use.
WHAT’S THE SCAM?
First, translation scammers find the real CV of a real translator. Then, they create a free email address (similar to the real translator’s). According to Translation Scammer’s research, scammers may use the translator’s real name, or they may invent a new or similar name. In some cases, the scammer will actually keep the mailing address of the real translator. They do always, however, change the phone number or use no phone at all.
The scammers then pass the stolen CV off as their own. How? They contact busy translation agencies. If an agency glances over the CV, all they see is the solid education and experience of an actual translator. So, the scammers get hired.
Here is a summary from Translation Scammer of what happens:
This photo is the property of www.translation-scammers.com.
WHO ARE THE VICTIMS?
One hair-raising example of how scammers work is the story of a scam investigation against “Elena Mazzotta.”
The victims of translation scammers are both agencies and individual translators. The agency that hires the scammer loses because they waste time on what usually is a poor-quality, machine translated end product. But translators and the translation industry as a whole have the most to lose.
When scammers steal a translator’s identity, they often spam agencies with the CV. Savvy agencies will recognize the scam and blacklist the name. Other agencies may hire the scammer, but quickly realize when proofreading that the translation is not professional. The agency then usually does not pay. In either case, the scammer effectively ruins the real translator’s reputation.
While translators can risk their reputation and livelihood, the danger is also great for the translation industry. Scammers survive because there are agencies that do not proofread their translations. Translations from scammers actually do get sent back to clients, and even may get used by clients. This lack of due diligence is a blow to the entire translation industry.
HOW TO AVOID SCAMMERS
Scammers can only win if agencies don’t spot them. Translation-scammers.com offers great tips for how to identify a scam. If you suspect a scam, a few easy steps are:
- Ask for a video interview: verify if they match the photo on the CV or ID, and if they actually speak the languages they claim to translate between.
- Look up the phone number and address to see if they match the individual’s name (or are even a real address).
- Check on the Translation Scammers directory to see if someone else has already flagged the scammer.
These are just a few of the many different ways to spot a scammer. Once you know what to look for, it’s actually quite easy to identify a scammer!
FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE DARK SIDE
Before hiring a translator, a little bit of research pays off. Together, we can protect the livelihood of translators and the integrity of the industry.