Translation scammers: The dark side of the translation industry

Every industry has a dark side. For the translation industry, that means translation scammers. Knowing who these scammers are and what they do is the best way to avoid and fight against them.

SCAMMERSWho are translation scammers?

Unfortunately, a translation scammer is not easy to identify. Anyone with a Wi-Fi connection, a rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop and a criminal mind can enter the game. Translation scammers work either individually or in organized groups.

While scammers are all over the world, some of the most infamous gangs are based in Gaza, Palestine and in Italy. The website,, has a full list of the names, email addresses and identifiers that scammers use.

What’s the scam?

As a whole, CV theft and translator impersonation are some of the most widespread scams. In 2017 alone, Translation Scammer exposed 5,055 new scammer IDs. That’s 36 new scammer IDs per month.

First, translation scammers find the real CV of a freelance translator. Then, they create a free email address (similar to the real translator’s).

According to Translation Scammer’s research, scammers may use the translator’s real name, or they may invent a new or similar name. In some cases, the scammer will actually keep the mailing address of the real translator. They do always, however, change the phone number or use no phone at all.

The scammers then pass the stolen CV off as their own. How? They contact busy translation agencies. If an agency glances over the CV, all they see is the solid education and experience of an actual translator. So, the scammers get hired.

Whilst savvy translation companies might spot a fake email, many do not and hence the scammers are often successful.

Here is a summary from Translation Scammer of what happens:

Who are the victims?

In most instances the victim of such a scam is often the translation agency or the freelance translator who has had their C.V stolen.

The agency is impacted by the loss of time, reputation and money that is essentially stolen from them, as the scammer presents a poor level, machine created copy for the customer.  The same goes for the professional translator, who’s reputation will also have been affected. This is often quickly realised when work from the scammer is proofread.

The translators themselves and the industry have a lot to lose from these scams.

In some cases, cheap translation agencies fail to proofread the work that has been returned and hence customers often receive documents which fall way below the expected standard.

This affects the entire sector.

 How to avoid scammers?

Professional translation companies have a screening process and can spot the scammer before they are employed. There is some great advice on Translation Scammers on how a translation agency can spot a scammer before it is too late.

If you suspect that someone is a potential scammer, there are a few easy steps that can be taken. These steps are as follows;

  1. Be sure to conduct an online video interview with the individual before they are given any work. This will give you a chance to check their face matches the picture on their ID or C.V. and it also allows you to check if they are a native speaker and can actually speak the language.
  2. Check the phone number against the information on the C.V.
  3. Check the directory that is published on the Translation Scammer website, to see if they have already been flagged.

The fight back!

As an industry we can beat the scammers who wish to profit from our sector and in reality, it only takes a little bit of research. Follow our advice, and that on the Translation Scammers website, and together we can fight back.

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