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Catch Them If You Can: How Fake Translators May be Wreaking Havoc with Your Budget and Your Translations

Catch Them If You Can: How Fake Translators May be Wreaking Havoc with Your Budget and Your Translations

In 2002, Leonardo DiCaprio starred in Catch Me If You Can, a movie about real-life con artist Frank Abagnale. Before he turned 19, Abagnale effectively stole more than a million dollars through check fraud and successfully posed as an airline pilot, doctor, and lawyer. There are people who still try to pull Abagnale-like stunts today, although less successfully. Sadly, you may be trusting some of them to translate your important documents.

The Problem
Translation companies sometimes receive dozens of resumes from translators each day. Most of these resumes are from hard-working and honest professionals. Unfortunately, many translation companies receive 10 or more resumes a day from fake translators. Just like Abagnale put on an airline pilot uniform to fool airports, these “translators” use online translation tools so that they appear like experienced translators – when they are anything but. It’s such a serious problem in the industry that there are on-line volunteer groups (one of such groups: Scammers Intelligence Group, trying to crack down on impostors trying to pass themselves off as translation professionals. Unfortunately, while the problem has been reaching epic proportions, many translation clients are not aware that there is an issue – and some of them are trusting their important business and legal documents to fraudsters using nothing more than Google and other online tools to do their dirty work.

How the Scam Works
Fake translators send their falsified resumes and CVs to translation companies.They also contact clients directly through online job marketplaces, job boards, and classified ads. Their resumes may be impressive, detailing college degrees and multiple languages spoken, but these individuals don’t speak or write in any of the languages they advertise. If they land a job or need to provide a sample, they just pass a text through a translation software system or even a free tool like Google. That’s it. For something you could do yourself in a minute, however, they may charge you hundreds of dollars (or even more!). If a client or translation service fights back against the poor-quality translations, the fraudsters will sometimes disappear, refusing to answer the phone or any emails after they have gotten paid. In other cases, they get defensive and start to make threats. If a translation company hires one of these fake translators and tries to reprimand them for using on online translator or for lying on a resume, the fraudsters will sometimes use social media to make fake claims against the translation company or will leave bad reviews of the company online.

Spotting the Scam
There are two types of fake translators: Identity thieves and entirely fictitious translators. Identity thieves will scour the Internet for actual translators and their resumes or will post a fake translation job online to get the resume of a real translator. They then swap out the contact information for their own, posing as the professional. This form of identity theft can ruin a professional translator’s reputation and career once the thief starts handing in sub-par translations. A professional may not even know that the theft has taken place until they notice bad reviews online or a sudden drop in jobs. The translator then has to spend months or even years trying to restore their reputation. Identity thieves are often hard to spot, because they are using the real name and credentials of a professional. Entirely fictitious translators are easier to spot but there are many more of them. These fraudsters make up degrees, skills, and names, creating their own fake identities. They then send out thousands of resumes with these fake identities. In some cases, these resumes are good for a laugh. They contain obvious mistakes, strange educational qualifications, and languages that don’t quite add up. If you are looking at a translator’s resume and you see that the translator allegedly got a media degree in Japan, a graduate degree in biochemistry in India, and a PhD in Art History in the UK with fluency in Japanese, Polish, Spanish, and Hungarian, you’re probably looking at a fake CV (especially if the resume has several errors).

Staying One Step Ahead of Scammers
One of the best ways to protect yourself against fake translators is to work with a professional, established translation agency. If you are hiring an individual translator for a project, you’re on your own when it comes to detecting scams. You may spend hours or days trying to figure out which resumes are legitimate and which are not. In the end, you might be fooled anyway and have to pay to have your text translated again – this time by a qualified translator. A professional translation company like Vedia Translations has a screening and testing process to weed out fake translators. For example, Vedia Translations has created a special multi-step procedure. Before entrusting any translator with your important documents, we put these professionals through careful checks that include:

  • Reference checks
  • Linguistic tests
  • Background verification
  • Translator anti-theft group checks
  • Translation community feedback checks
  • Education credential verification (contacting universities and colleges to verify credentials if needed)

Our company also shares information about known fake translators with other translation and language service providers so that we can improve the industry as a whole. Another thing that Vedia Translations does is check the IP addresses of translators who apply to work with us against the IP addresses of known fake translators. Since Vedia Translations is part of the translation industry, we have the industry contacts and knowledge to carefully check each translator we work with. This is an advantage the average individual or business simply does not have if they need business or legal texts translated. By verifying the professional credentials of every translator, we save our clients frustration and time. We also safeguard the quality of our translations so that we can fully stand behind them. Most translators are honest and hard-working individuals, but a few imposters have wreaked havoc in the industry as a whole and have defrauded individual clients out of money for poor-quality translators. If you are ready to entrust your translation project to a qualified professionals, contact Vedia Translations today for a quote. We’d be happy to explain the process we use to ensure you get a quality translation each time – on budget and on time.