Alert: New Internet Scam on Interpreters and Translators.

September 30, 2013 § 7 Comments

Dear colleagues:

If you are reading this posting, chances are that you use the internet as a professional tool. If you are like me, you probably have a website, communicate with your clients by email, and you have a Twitter and Facebook accounts.  It is also likely that you have been targeted by cyber-scammers in the past.  We have seen emails from African royalty wanting to send their children abroad and needing an interpreter, we also received emails from prospective clients asking for dubious urgent translations, and we know colleagues who have received bad checks for large amounts coupled with a request for a smaller check from the translator because “there is no time” to reissue a check for the correct translation fee. Well, there is a new scam going around in the interpreter/translator world, and it is waiting for innocent victims to take the bait.

Last week I received an email to my website account from China’s “Domain Name Registration Center” informing me that a Chinese company wanted to register my domain as their “internet keyword” and “…acquire my domain name in China…”  The email stated that “…In order to deal with this matter better…” I should confirm whether this Chinese company is my “…distributor or business partner in China…”  The communication was signed by a “Jim Ying, General Manager Shanghai Office.”  Of course, the email concerned me as I have heard many horror stories of intellectual property piracy in China.  I was traveling away from my office.  I immediately contacted my IT Director and asked her what to do.

Then, as I was waiting for my IT expert to reply, I started to feel uneasy about the whole thing, maybe it was my legal training telling me that the way the email was phrased didn’t seem right, perhaps it was that I remembered the many conferences on intellectual property I have interpreted for; probably a combination of both, so I decided to do some research.

That is how I found an article by Christopher Hofman Laursen from the European Domain Centre in Denmark.  His article was a carbon copy of my situation. The posting clearly explains that these people are cyber-criminals who basically want to establish a relationship with the interpreters or translators who answer their original email, and then pressure them into paying for a domain registration in China. Sometimes they even put the scam victim in touch with the Chinese “company” interested in acquiring the domain name to make this operation credible.  Christopher asks those (like me) who have been contacted by these scammers to just ignore the email, and to share it with him, so he can add the sender’s name to his “hall of shame” list.  That is exactly what I did.

My suggestion to all of you is to ignore the email if you ever get it.  The following link will take you to the master list that Christopher has developed so you can see all the names that these people have used in the past. Please notice that when you click on the link, it will take you to a web page that will ask you to click again or to add a. (dot) at the end of the URL:!-got-an-email-from-china-domain-name-registration-center-asian-domain-registration-service-in-china-the-department-of-registration-service-in-china-etc.

I really hope that this posting helps you avoid the scam and also motivates you to be on the alert mood for these type of criminals who operate outside the reach of international law.  You can also share your interpreter/translator internet scam stories with the rest of us in order to keep everyone informed of the bad guys out there.

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§ 7 Responses to Alert: New Internet Scam on Interpreters and Translators.

  • Erin Vinton says:

    Many thanks for sharing. Will definitely pass along as well.

  • marzolian says:

    I received something similar a few years ago. IIRC I asked how much it would cost. If it was cheap, say $10, I might have done it, but it was a lot higher. So I ignored it.

  • Mary says:

    Yes. But, who is Christopher Hofman Laursen and what is his background and reputation as a company? A person can get paranoid in this business. Doesn’t he register domains as well?

  • Recep says:

    This is a widely used technique used to “scare” companies into buying domain names. In the past I have dealt with the Turkish version of such a “company” (was a student, actually). One of our managers talked with them over the phone- the price they asked was three times te regular fee for domain registration/hosting. The thing is, they are unable to do anything unless you “authorize” them (provide the necessary documents [if any] needed for such registration- in Turkey you need to prove that domain name is relevant to your company name). In any case, don’t get fooled by those scums and just ignore their threats that someone else is about to get that domain.

  • In recent years, the scams has evolved to target interpreters and translators specifically. This post is a good share, it will help in generating awareness amongst the translators and interpreters.

  • CK Interpreting Services says:

    A number of interpreters in the Society of Translators and Interpreters of BC (STIBC) were targeted by a similar scam 3 or 4 years ago. I was one of them. I was contacted by email and phone by a French-speaking priest from the Ivory Coast. He wanted me to interpret for his wife and children while he was on church business in the Lower Mainland.

    I very quickly cottoned on to the situation when the “clergyman” in question sent me 2 money orders for exactly the same amount. I had requested a deposit, as per my usual way of doing business with out-of-country clients…Neither of the money orders corresponded to the amount I had requested and were quite a bit more than the entire assignment amount…When I called him about this, he said he had sent extra money so that, after cashing the money orders, I would have enough for my deposit and his travel arrangements !!! I was to send the outstanding sum to an account in the USA so the person there could pay for plane tickets.

    I immediately went to my bank and asked them to check the money orders to see if they were frauds…It took 10 days. They were !!!
    I called the RCMP (Canadian Mounted Police) and they said that had I cashed the money orders, the bank could have gone after me for all the money and I would have been held criminally responsible.

    The priest in question had the audacity to try emailing and calling me a few times to see when I would be sending the money on to the specified place in the States. He only stopped once I told him the RCMP had been advised of the situation.

    Very unsettling experience, to say the least.

  • Thank you for this useful article on awareness regarding scams Tony! I had seen many of the aforementioned scenarios come through my email throughout my career. If I may give my five cents on this matter, it would be as follows:
    Be Aware of Red Flags
    -Vague information about the translation.
    -Eagerness to get started immediately and a lack of interest on obtaining an estimate from you.
    – Spelling and grammar errors.
    -The name of the person is not capitalized.
    -If it’s too good to be truth it’s fraud.

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