Just as in any other industry, scammers exist in the localization and translation industry too. They create trouble among real translators and translation agencies with their fraudulent activities.
Types of Scams
Translation agencies and translators should be aware of the several types of scams in the industry and how to avoid them.
CV (Curriculum Vitae) Theft and Impersonation
Scammers modify the résumés or CVs of real, expert translators and seek work using them. Once they get work, they either do a substandard job or engage other translators (who work at lower rates) and take the profits. When the end-client realizes that translations were just pumped through a machine translated, which results in poor quality work.
Some translation portals lure clients by adding reputable translators' details to their roll, without the knowledge or consent of those translators. Unfortunately, legitimate translators only realize their CV is being taken without consent when the end-client discovers the flawed translations and they are blamed.
Nigerian Check or Over-Payment
This common scam originated with the Nigerian scams of the 1990s. Scammers engage translators and pay them using checks or money orders. The payment amount usually exceeds the agreed-upon fees. They then ask the translators to wire the difference back to them. However, the checks or money orders bounce, as they are stolen or forged. Translators lose the amount they return and may also face legal problems.
Nonpayment for Services Rendered
Scammers employ translators, pretending to belong to reputable translation agencies, and don't pay them after the job is done. Since freelancers are usually paid after they send the deliverables, translators do not realize their mistake soon enough. In this instance they are out on the time they took to complete the work.
Some scammers even go as far as to establish a fake online presence, meaning real website, logo, content. All for their fake translation agency.
Pay to Work
Some scammers offer translators good, well-paid jobs but request some payment before assigning them. Others ask translators to join some bogus association or be certified by them or buy a translation tool. After the translators pay, no jobs materialize.
The fake client contacts translators with job opportunities abroad in exchange for a processing fee. The salary, incentives and working conditions seem ideal, but once translators pay, the scammers disappear.
Scammers spam agencies with fake CVs. If they select these CVs, agencies end up with inferior translations. In response, they blacklist the translators mentioned in the CVs, unknowingly ruining the real translators' reputations. When this happens often, it affects the translation industry.
Translators can prevent being exploited by doing the following:
- Never sending CVs in plain text or Word format and never providing CVs in full online.
- Including a photo for easy visual verification.
- Listing language proficiency.
- Avoiding specifics, including prior clients and jobs.
- Creating own websites to use as online bases instead of free email addresses.
- Linking contact information only to social media accounts used for professional services.
- Verifying the identity of anyone who offers jobs.
- Avoiding big projects from new clients.
- Checking clients' payment practices and insisting on advance payment by non-reversible methods.
- Refusing checks as payment, especially those exceeding agreed fees.
- Rejecting offers to pay fees without negotiation or in full upfront.
- Insisting on at least one video call before committing to a job.
- Avoiding clients who ask for payment of any kind.
- Checking their own online reputation.
Translation agencies should check for the following indicators of substandard work or foul play.
- Unsolicited CVs
- Poor language, multiple fonts or inconsistent formatting in the CV/email
- Inconsistencies in names or experience
- Lack of or suspicious physical and website addresses
- Presence of irrelevant information
Dealing with Scammers
If scammers are successful despite all precautions, victims should gather all the evidence and report the crime to relevant law enforcement agencies and the US Department of Justice.
Since the translation and localization industry attracts a global audience, there is going to people trying to cheat the system. Most translation companies conduct their operations internationally with the majority of it handled online. This open community that has been created provides scammers opportunities and loopholes to trick unsuspecting individuals. It is important to stay diligent and aware of latest scams within the industry, to protect against them.