A silver bullet against translation scammers 1

Scammers who prey on translators will not go away. They operate under fake names, pretending to be clients, and cheat translators out of their work or money. The community has taken on the task of creating resources and sharing information about these scams with impressive results, creating an abundance of posts raising awareness about scams targeting translators. The oldest such article I could find dates back to January 2011, and since then they have multiplied. There are also discussion hubs like ProZ.com’s Scams forum in which information about scammers is shared on a daily basis. I think it is safe to say that creating content to fight this blight is a step that has been successfully taken.

As the manager of ProZ.com’s Translator scam alert center since 2011, I have been in touch with people that have fallen for scams for a long time. A pattern that stands out is that only those who are unaware of online scammers fall for scams. Knowledge of online scams and risk management procedures, in this case, works like a vaccine that makes the one exposed to it immune to scams. The knowledge is out there and it’s being shared, but not everyone may be exposed to helpful information in regards to spotting scammers.

No amount of posts about known scammers will prevent new scammers from finding new victims, but a solid method for risk management method may. I would like to propose the following steps as the silver bullet for risk management:

  1. If you are offered a job that does not make sense to you, does not match the service they offer, is below your rates, etc., simply dismiss it.
  2. If you are offered a job that you find interesting, ask for verifiable contact information.
  3. Once you receive verifiable contact information, check it until you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
  4. After that, check payment practices and other information (for instance in the ProZ.com Blue Board).

Anyone who fails any of these checks should be deemed too risky for collaboration. This doesn’t mean they are confirmed scammers, they are just too risky to consider doing business with them.


Have you ever been the victim of a translation-related scam? If so, what could you have done differently to prevent it?

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