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I think a couple of years ago there was this scam thing around. Not quite the Nigeria connection it was but a tiny bit more sophisticated:

  • An international client requests an interpreter's services.
  • They promise upfront payment.
  • The cheque arrives.
  • The amount is somewhat higher than agreed.
  • The client claims that the difference is supposed to cover their expenses (hotel, equipment rental, transfer etc).
  • The interpreter takes the cheque to the bank.
  • The client claims that something went wrong (their accounting department has to pay the hotel expenses from the headquarter or whatever).
  • The interpreter transfers the excess amount (e.g. EUR1000) - after all, they feel that they are on the safe side because they retain their own fee
  • The client's cheque is cancelled again and the money disappears from the interpreter's account (this is possible up to a period of three months after the cheque has been cashed in)

Does this sound familiar to you / have you heard of similar frauds which are specifically geared towards interpreters?

asked 12 Oct '12, 10:23

Tanja's gravatar image


edited 12 Oct '12, 12:08

Delete's gravatar image

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I almost got caught once, several years ago. It was exactly as you described. The “client” was from the UAE and recruited me, even signed a contract. I was suspecting something fishy and called him after a few exchanges of emails; got someone on the phone who hardly spoke English, but went ahead. I finally got the check, which was faked, of course: presumably on Barclays Bank but full of mistakes in English… The check, received a couple of weeks before the job, was actually for some 500 $ more than what was “owed” to me, and I did not have to wait long for the “client” to ask me to send this amount back to him, as his secretary had made a mistake ;-) The scam became very clear. I told him I had never received the check – which still sits on my desk – and that I was not free anymore. End of story. But beware…

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answered 12 Oct '12, 22:52

Danielle's gravatar image


Thank you for sharing this - when I googled the exact mechanism behind this scam before posting this question I was surprised to find out that cheques paid to someone's account can still be withdrawn again for a period of up to 3 months - without the consent of the account holder.

Obviously everyone is familiar with the regular spam and phishing warnings but I feel this kind of overpayment scam is a new dimension since it specifically caters to the business practices of an individual professional group (advance payment for international clients).

Since you and a few other colleagues I spoke to apparently also received this mail it makes me wonder where they got the addresses from - either they have robots crawling the internet for individual interpreter websites or they discovered a few association databases. But I suppose as long as we keep communicating it is going to make their life more difficult, so thanks again.

(14 Oct '12, 17:40) Tanja

...I have indeed, several times I suspect, been sent the 1st email in that series... but because I always turn them down or don't even reply when it's particularly blatant - they're not too difficult to spot, once you learn to identify the signs, ie non-corporate hotmail/yahoo/gmail box, un-professional language, bad grammar/spelling, etc - I've been so far able to avoid the pitfalls.

Recently I was sent one allegedly in connection with a Chinese company, with a website and all, but transparently not kosher :-).

For some comic relief, here goes a site I still enjoy in connection with the garden variety scam

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answered 12 Oct '12, 13:47

msr's gravatar image


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question asked: 12 Oct '12, 10:23

question was seen: 2,398 times

last updated: 14 Oct '12, 17:43 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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