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14th Feb 2014

In the days of the Internet anyone can do just about anything online, which inevitably includes cyber crimes such as fraud and identity theft. When we think of identity theft, we would usually think of the theft of our credit card details or contact details, but did you know that even our hard working translator colleagues are at serious risk of identity theft?

In our Translation Project Management Department at Pearl Linguistics, we work with hundreds of freelance translators each month on a variety of projects, large and small. The vast majority of these translators work on a freelance basis from home, which can be quite isolating at times. To avoid this, there are a number of different online communities for freelance translators and interpreters to share business ideas, terminology, and find new translation projects advertised by language service providers around the world. A translator can create their own profile, through which they can advertise their services and attract new opportunities. Many translators choose to upload their CV to their profile, which includes their contact details so that potential clients (by way of agencies or other translators who outsource their projects) can contact them directly.

This is where the identity theft comes in; there are a number of fake “agencies” that join these online communities, look for translators and contact them directly, requesting permission to use their CV to advertise the services of the translator on their behalf, in order to win projects for that translator. If the translator agrees to this, the “agency” is then free to do what they like with that CV, and, rather than passing any projects won for the translator concerned, they doctor the CV, removing the translator’s own contact details and adding new details (usually 2 free email addresses). Occasionally they combine different CVs and invent a new name, though we see more and more that use the name of the translator concerned, and their full CV.

Once the “CV” is complete, the “agencies” then send it, along with a cover letter, to legitimate language service providers around the world, including Pearl Linguistics, claiming to be a translator looking for new projects and long-term collaboration. If they succeed in fooling agencies into believing them, they will accept projects and deliver a very poor quality translation, for which they demand payment in full. Some of the emails we receive from these “translators” are quite obviously fake, with the “translator” writing a cover letter using poor English, whilst claiming to be fully bilingual in English and another language. Others use obviously fake names (Evelyn Salt is my current favourite) or misspell their own email addresses or names.

But how do we know if the “translator” is definitely real or not? First of all, we owe a lot to João Roque Dias, who works tirelessly to create an extensive list of scam translators, using reports from linguists who have had their details stolen and agencies that receive these bogus CVs and report them. His website is the first place we look when we receive a suspicious-looking CV, and more often than not, we find the exact name and email address in the list that he has so kindly made public.

At Pearl Linguistics we work very hard to provide our clients with high-quality translation services, and have great working relationships with our translators, so we are immensely grateful for João’s work in exposing anyone wishing to profit from identity theft whilst attempting to destroy the reputations of both language service providers and translators.

For more information about our (100% scammer-free) Translation Services, please contact us at sales@pearllinguistics.com, or call us on 020 7253 7700 to speak to a member of our team.

Claire Sawer, Head of Project Management


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