Valentina Ambrogio — professional English to Italian Translator, Localiser and Subtitler

Scammed! My experience with translation scammers


Scammed! My experience with translation scammers

Posted by Valentina Ambrogio in Translation 27 Jan 2016

Do you remember that phase in your life right after your graduation, the what-am-I-supposed-to-do-right-now-university-didn’t-prepare-me-for-this phase? Yes, that phase.

I surely went through it. I felt lost and did not know what to do. Should I call agencies? Should I just send my CV and hope for the best? Only the Gods could answer my questions, and by “Gods” I mean Google.

It didn’t take me too long to realise that anything I had learnt during my BA was as useful as a chocolate teapot. The almighty Google showed me this long list of on-line communities and websites for translators. Next step? Compulsive creation of a gazillion of professional profiles, which I cared to update every time my CV looked a bit “better.” And, of course, I spent most of time reading job offers and trying to get that damn job. [Random translation job]? Reply > Cover Letter > CV attached > Looking forward to hearing from you soon > Hopes up > No reply. Repeat, again and again. It never worked.

One day though, I received this wonderful e-mail. In a nutshell it said (paragraphs are copied from the actual e-mail exchange):

“Sorry for my late reply […]  I am looking for an interpreter/translator that can translate from English to any foreign language. I have a book project at hand that demands all foreign language because we have a newborn every minute all over the world. This is concerning the training of our children for a better tomorrow.”

Wow! So thoughtful of him… He then explained the whole project, and so on, and then, my duties:

“***YOUR DUTIES. I will like to know your cost to translate from English to your area of specialization. How many weeks will it takes [sic] to get it done? If you are interested in this job offer, just write me back with requested details below to facilitate the conclusion of this job and payment asap.”

I send my details and quote, you know the drill. Fast forward >>> Quote accepted >>> Yay! Thank you! >>> I will send you the files >>> Sure! >>> But there’s a problem with the payment, we will send you some cheques which will cover the cost of your translation and the publisher’s fee, which you need to send to Mr. X. You can keep the balance. >>>  OK, thank you! Wait… What? Rewind! <<< “Keep the balance”? <<< “Publisher’s fee”?

I was new to the whole thing, but I was not naive. No one gives you more money than necessary. I did some research on the Internet and politely said “thanks, but no thanks.” But I was still unaware that this was a common scam technique.

FAKE-CHEQUESTwo weeks later, I got mail! Actual mail :) In the envelope I found six American Express Travelers Cheques worth 3,000 EUR. As if! Again I turned to the merciful Google and finally had an epiphany. I was totally dumbfounded by the existence of such a criminal activity in the translation field! CV theft, fake job posts, counterfeit cheques… I couldn’t believe it!

I wrote them another e-mail and threatened to press charges if they ever tried to contact me or send me anything else again, and… no reply!

I have had to deal with translation scammers only twice in my life, and both times the trickery started after my reply to a job offer. The first time was an “almost scam”, the one I talked you about. The second time, instead, I got scammed!

This kind lady accepted my quote for an urgent translation, 1500 words to deliver in three days. She seemed to know what she was doing. She also had a LinkedIn profile (but no picture) and worked  in “Translation and Localisation.” I trusted her. I sent the translation and she just disappeared. I sent tons of emails afterwards, but of course no reply!

I felt frustrated for days, but then I realised that unfortunately this happens to a lot of people. Now I know how to spot the typical red flags such as e-mails sent from a free account like Gmail or Yahoo; bad grammar and misspellings; undisclosed recipients; and many others.

Basically you need to verify the sender’s identity before you engage in any kind of conversation with these people, or you risk a lot, and try to protect your CV from possible scams.

There are now many useful resources and articles with tips on how to tackle this nasty problem, so I won’t make another one myself, but I invite you to click the links below and read them carefully as they can literally make you save time and money:

I hope you enjoyed this post. Spreading information about this topic is paramount and can help a lot of people who are taking the first steps in this jungle :)

Featured Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo

  • Marianna March 18, 2016 at 12:57 pm / Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experience and damn you, scammers! I’ve been there too, kinda. I got robbed by one guy when I was still pretty inexperienced. He totally underpaid me, and I would have made more money by bumping my head against the wall. But hey, we paid for a valuable lesson :)

    “Only the Gods could answer my questions, and by “Gods” I mean Google.”
    Loving this 😀

    • Valentina Ambrogio March 18, 2016 at 1:02 pm / Reply

      It was like attending a crash course on how to spot these spiteful people. And yes, what you went through is just another kind of scam. Google, the Almighty, is always there to help us in times of need 😀

  • Selina November 30, 2016 at 9:41 am / Reply

    Nice experience, thanks for sharing your efforts with us. After competing graduation i was also suffering from that situation.

  • Emal January 9, 2018 at 6:06 pm / Reply

    2 seems to be the magical number – but the second time I got those scammers :)
    Still I’m amazed how many honest people there are in the world.
    Read about my experience with scammers here:

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