If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.
While CV theft has been around for quite a while, the latest version is specifically targeting translators.
The scam begins with a request for your CV. The company making the request claims to have a project for you or would like to include you in their database for future projects. Sounds good, right?
In a follow-up request, the company asks for permission to send your CV and cover letter to prospective clients. And that's where it all starts to go wrong.
Learn how to spot the scam before getting caught up in the deal.
Some ATA members have recently received email requests for a quote on translation and typesetting services. The email appeared to come from a very real organization with a website, address, and phone. It all looked legitimate. Nonetheless, it was a scam.
Keep your guard up. If you have any questions or comments, please email ATA's Executive Director Walter Bacak.
Several ATA members have received offers by email to interpret for an African prince's daughters while they sightsee and shop. Others received more official business-oriented messages: a client needs an interpreter while attending a seminar in Texas, Ohio, or some other plausible place.
The perpetrators of these scams include the ATA member's name, email address, and primary non-English language embedded in the text of the message, which adds some credibility. After the recipient responds to the message confirming his or her availability, the author mails a check overnight with instructions to notify the sender as soon as the check is received.
A couple days later, the scammer emails the ATA member canceling the assignment-usually the daughter or client got sick. The author of the scam then tells the member to keep $xxx for your time and trouble and wire the remainder to xxx [some other person].
Some days later, the bank will advise the ATA member that the original check was fake or drawn on a closed account. The money for the assignment was never real, and the funds sent by wire after the cancellation of the assignment are in the hands of the scammer.
According to the National Consumers League, if you wire funds to the scammer, you will be liable for the entire amount. There is nothing anyone can do to get your money back.
The key to spotting and avoiding scams is learning how they work and what to look for. The National Consumers League's website Fraud!org is a great place to start your education. The FBI site also provides details for more than 50 scams.
Both of these sites are real eye openers as to all the Internet scams out there, from the old Ponzi/pyramid schemes) to the "Nigerian letters"—please send me xxxx and I will send you xxxx x 2 or more—to the new "phishing" scams where requests for personal information and credit card numbers include a bank or company's logo and font style.
The contact information that you post online in the ATA Directory of Translators and Interpreters is easily accessible to the business community and the general public. That is its purpose: to help you get legitimate business. Knowing the information is readily available online also means that you need to keep your guard up.
In response to the many calls and emails from members, I have reported the targeting of ATA members to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC). According to the IFCC website, "The IFCC is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center."
I encourage you to report any Internet scam messages that you receive. And email ATA's Executive Director as well.
Tips for Recognizing and Avoiding Fake Check Scams
If someone you don't know wants to pay you by check but wants you to wire some of the money back, beware! It's a scam that could cost you thousands of dollars.
If you're selling something, they say they'll pay you by having someone in the U.S. who owes them money send you a check. It will be for more than the sale price; you deposit the check, keep what you're owed, and wire the rest to them.
If it's part of a work-at-home scheme, they may claim that you'll be processing checks from their "clients." You deposit the checks and then wire them the money minus your "pay." Or they may send you a check for more than your pay "by mistake" and ask you to wire them the excess.
In the sweepstakes and foreign money offer variations of the scam, they tell you to wire them money for taxes, customs, bonding, processing, legal fees, or other expenses that must be paid before you can get the rest of the money.
When a check bounces, the bank deducts the amount that was originally credited to your account. If there isn't enough to cover it, the bank may be able to take money from other accounts you have at that institution or sue you to recover the funds. In some cases, law enforcement authorities could bring charges against the victims because it may look like they were involved in the scam and knew the check was counterfeit.
Additional information previously published in The ATA Chronicle: