The 6 Most Common Scams Done To Translators




The Most Common Scams Done To Translators

Just like in life, you meet a variety of people, the same can be said of business clients.

In our translation profession, we meet a diverse group of clients.

A majority are good, some are bad, and a few can be ugly.

In this post we will examine the bad and ugly or more commonly known as the criminals, scammers, and frauds.

Here are the top 6 most common bad and ugly client behavior.

1. The User

This type of client only appears when they need your services but quickly disappears without a trace and payment after having received your completed translation.

How do you avoid becoming a victim of the User?

Have a written agreement before hand.

2.  The Gold-digger

This type of client will mail you a check with their payment once you complete or sometimes while you are still working on a translation.  

The check will be substantially much higher than your quoted fee.  

The client might say they made a mistake and will tell you to deposit the check in your bank account and ask you to send the difference back to them.  

A few days later the client's check will bounce or they will retract the original payment, leaving you with a debt.

How do you avoid becoming a victim of the Gold-digger? 

Do your homework ahead of time, look for red flags before anything.

3. The Penny Pincher

This type of client promises you big jobs and money, but first, you must agree to do a small free job.

After you do the small job for free, you never hear from the client again.

How do you avoid becoming a victim of the Penny Pincher?

Inform yourself about what a translation test is and what it is not.

4. The Cheater

This type of client requests that you complete a small free translation "test", which, clearly looks like it was taken from a larger job.  

The client sends several translation "tests" to multiple translators and then patches the results together.

How do you avoid becoming a victim of the Cheater?

Again, inform yourself about what a translation test is and what it is not.

5. The Tease

This type of client will hire you for a small-medium sized job and when it's time for you to get paid, the client will ask nicely for your help on another translation, claiming it's urgent.  

In the end, the client will never really get around to pay you.

How do you avoid becoming a victim of the Tease?

Do your homework ahead of time, look for red flags before anything.  If they seem good at first but in the end fail to pay you then take the appropriate steps to get the money that is owed to you.

6. The Two-Face

This type of client, at first, is extremely nice, courteous, friendly, and praises all your work.  

Then after the honeymoon stage is over and all you get is rudeness, harsh criticism, and demands.  

The client will tell you that your work is "no good", "unusable" and may even threaten to sue.  

In the end, this client will keep and use your translation and will withhold payment.

How to avoid becoming a victim of the Two-face?

Again, do your homework ahead of time, look for red flags before anything.  If they seem good at first but in the end fail to pay you then take the appropriate steps to get the money that is owed to you.

If you fall victim of a translation scam, what can you do?

Act quickly!  

If you have tried all the possible options to recoup payment then here are the next steps you can take.

Doing nothing at all will not lead to results and is the worst thing you can do.

It is your professional duty to report, warn, and complain about criminal behavior.

Remember scammers quickly disappear, find new victims, and clean-up the scene of their crime.

Reporting scammers will deprive them of translators and is the best way to drive these fraudulent people out of business.  

Here are a few things you may consider:

  • Inform the scammer that they are violating copyright and Intellectual Property laws by using your translation without your written permission and/or failing to pay.
  • Report the case to the police, local, national, and/or international authorities.
  • File a criminal investigation at your local or federal Internet Fraud department.
  • Document every step you take and learn from the case.
  • Warn other colleagues in every way (in which you feel comfortable) possible so they don't fall victim too.
The 6 Most Common Scams Done To Translators


Here are a few ways to help warn other translators:

  • Write a review on Yelp or similar review sites.
  • File a complaint with Consumer Affairs.
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Post on social media networks.
  • Inform your colleagues, associations, clubs, groups, and organizations.
  • Inform online ethics and scammers directories, payment practice lists, and blacklists

The 6 Most Common Scams Done To Translators

How to avoid falling victim of a translation fraud in the future

  • Use common sense.
  • Learn about translation tests.
  • Research your potential client beforehand.
  • If in doubt, don't.  Trust your gut, it's almost always right.
  • Learn from your own mistakes and those of others.
  • When you are offered something too good to be true, it is.
  • Use a Statement of Service instead of or in addition to an invoice or purchase order.
  • Keep abreast of the latest scams on blogs, social media, professional online groups, associations, organizations, events, conferences, blacklists, etc.
The 6 Most Common Scams Done To Translators

Can you think of any other types of scams or frauds?

Have you even been a victim of fraud?

Do you know of any other way to warn others?

Do you have any other ideas to help translators avoid falling victim of scams?

As always, thank you for reading and sharing my posts.  Please if any of my blogs inspire you, give credit where credit is due.  Let's be fair, honest and professional. Let's help each other be great and stay great!

Feel free to connect or email me, Carmen Arismendy.  I'm a professional Spanish interpreter-translator and founder of eLingual.Net.  I started the eLingual Network because I could not find a fair, no middleman, no job bidding, ethical, and transparent meeting place for translators, interpreters, and clients online.  The website is in beta phase and by no means perfect but it's a step in the right direction.
eLingual.Net's mission is to spread happiness worldwide through happy translators, interpreters, and clients.
For the professional translator and interpreter, this means no middleman, no job bidding, the freedom of setting their own fees, having control over their services, and who they choose to work with.
For the clients, this means working directly with ethical and professional translators and interpreters committed to quality and value.
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