Advice for fellow translators: Spotting scammers and red flags

Hello, TWB Community! :wave: First of all, I’d like to apologize if I’m creating a topic under the wrong category, but this was the one I deemed most adequate for what I wanted to post. Sorry in advance if I messed up. :sweat:

Anyhow, this could be a bundle of “duh!” information for more experienced translators, but I’ve seen that some people are just starting out and scammers are like sharks: they smell the fresh blood from far away (talking from experience). I hate seeing that sort of thing happening, so I’ve decided to jot down some topics and hope they’re helpful somehow. :slight_smile:

:triangular_flag_on_post: They avoid platforms with safety measures and guarantees for transactions. In case you find one of these “clients” on online job platforms, they’ll always suggest something like “contact me on Telegram, it’s much more efficient!” to get you away from the safety net.

:triangular_flag_on_post: Most of the time (but not always), the pay is suspiciously high. Above market rates. And they always have an excuse that goes around the lines of “oh, it’s because this project is very urgent, you see” or “the person/company we will deliver this translation to is a really important client of ours”. No serious business (none I have ever seen; please correct me if I’m wrong, peers) will irresponsibly leave their work to be done at the last minute, to the point of asking you to translate 40k words in two days.

:triangular_flag_on_post: Since scammers dislike payment-guaranteeing measures, when you communicate with them via e-mail, Telegram, etc., and ask about your payment, it’ll be something generic like “we’ll transfer the money to your bank/PayPal account after we receive the document, don’t worry”. There’s absolutely nothing that guarantees they’ll actually pay you. * (Please note that I’m not saying everyone who negotiates via e-mail, Telegram, etc. is a scammer; what I’m saying is that scammers do this a lot)*

:triangular_flag_on_post: Fake identities. It’s very common for scammers to pretend to be someone else. They’ll say they’re managers of some enterprise, for example. Always do a reverse search: if they’re so important, they should be on LinkedIn and other professional profiles, especially the company’s website and social media. Do a reverse image search too; many times, the picture does not match the name and there’s no such person working in that enterprise. Worst case scenario, they’ll impersonate someone who actually exists, but the behavior is completely different. Someone as serious as a business manager would never be so nonchalant, saying “just send me the file and I’ll pay you”.

:triangular_flag_on_post: This has happened to me, but I have seen several translators point this out too: they reply really fast and at unusual hours of the day. Outside working hours. The person who tried to scam me was replying to me when it was 4:30 AM for them. Now, why in the world would an important regional manager - an office worker, not a freelancer like me - be messaging me at a time like that? (Note, again, that I’m not saying people who reply fast are automatically scammers)

:triangular_flag_on_post: “No experience needed! It’s simple and fast!”, friendly job descriptions. Every one of those I’ve seen was also very vague. It’s only “I need someone to translate a simple document for me, it’s an easy job, you don’t need experience because it’s very simple.” They rarely ever say what it’s about, like “I have this pharmacology file for a presentation and I need someone with knowledge in the area to help me out.”

:triangular_flag_on_post: They ask for money first. “We need to pay a tax for (blah-blah) reasons, so please transfer us 30 dollars first so we can (blah-blah)”. Now, this one I feel safer generalizing: actual clients don’t ask you to send money first or pay for something (like a CAT tax or whatever).

Sorry for the long post, and please remember: I’m talking from my experience and the fellow translators I’ve come across in forums, communities, and job platforms. I’m not trying to tell you ALL scammers act and will always act this way, or that everyone who is vague in their job description is a scammer. They’re red flags/warnings/pointers, not absolute truths! :sweat_smile:

I apologize for the very long (and maybe unnecessarily obvious) post; it’s just that I’ve been seeing more scammers around and I’d rather play safe here. Fellow translators, please feel encouraged to add your personal pointers/red flags/alerts! :grin:

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Hello Vitto! Thank you so much for this very nice recap, I enjoyed reading it and I believe it’s very helpful. I changed the category just because I wanted to make it more visible and accessible even to people who are not logged in.

You have very valuable insight and sadly we know some of these scammers’ techniques too well, because we’ve had cases of scammers pretending to be part of the TWB staff and asking for “deposit money” for pro-bono projects :frowning: so let me stress this again.

:warning: We’ve noticed an increase in phishing emails and scams on social media. These emails or messages usually ask for donations, direct payments, or other requests.

:no_entry: Please always keep in mind that TWB and CLEAR Global will never ask for direct payments in order to translate for us. When we ask for donations you will always have the option to do it via a secure webpage. And we will never ask for money or “security fees” to participate in a project. If you received a suspicious message from TWB and want to check its validity, please contact immediately translators@translatorswithoutborders.org.

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  • Be alert to the fact that scams exist.
  • Know who you’re dealing with.
  • Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails – delete them: If unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
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