Scam Alert! Please read. It could happen to any of us.

January 17, 2012 § 7 Comments

Dear Colleagues,

A few weeks ago I received an estimate request through my website. The prospective client, Mr. Dan Robinson, wanted to know the cost of translating an article on “Homeschooling”.  As usual, I reviewed the document and provided the estimate.  My estimates always require a down payment unless the job request comes from an old client. The prospective client agreed.  About a week later this same individual contacted me by e-mail asking if I had received the retainer.  He explained that the translation was urgent, and he was concerned because I had explained that I would not start the translation before receiving payment.

Two days later he sent another e-mail telling me that the post office had confirmed that payment had been delivered to my business.  My records did not show this payment so I reviewed all recently arrived checks. Sure enough, among them, I found a check with no sender’s name for an exorbitant amount (over three times the total cost of this client’s translation) I contacted this client and asked him for amount, name and address information on the check he had sent to retain my services.  He gave me the exorbitant amount. I responded that the check was way off and that I needed a new check for the correct amount with the name and address of sender.  He immediately told me that he was being admitted to the hospital, and he did not have a way to get me that information. I told him that I would wait for someone to provide the required information and correct payment.

After a few minutes, he sent me an e-mail explaining that he was very sorry for the trouble he had caused me; that I did not have to wait to get paid. He proposed that I deposit the big check, and suggested I return the difference, minus a fee for my “trouble and expenses,” by Western-Union, to an address in Egypt.  This was the final red flag. Of course, I politely responded that our policy is to wait for the correct check, deposit it, and after it clears, we send the difference to the client by check, together with a payment receipt. I insisted that I needed a name and address.  That was it. I never heard from Mr. Robinson again.

Be careful, these individuals are operating from outside the U.S., they are using fake names that will not raise suspicion, and they contact translators through their websites and ask them to do jobs that seem legitimate like a homeschooling article in this case.  Has anybody else been approached by Mr. Robinson or one of his associates?

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