Dissecting a Translation Scammer Email

Translation scammers have been present more than ever during this pandemic, taking advantage of our colleagues who may be desperate to get some work in a world where everything suddenly stopped. This post may sound redundant as there are many other T&I colleagues and associations doing research, tagging, keeping record, and breaking it down for us. However, I would like to share my own experience and explain what are the signs I look for when I receive one of these “job offers” which probably look too good to be true.

Starting November 2020, I received several emails with the following subjects, “STADA JOB OFFER – INTERPRETATION/TRANSLATION JOB INVITATION!!!,” “JOB INVITATION!!! TRANSLATOR/INTERPRETER,” “INTERVIEW INVITATION FOR INTERPRETER/TRANSLATOR,” and “MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS:TRANSLATOR POSITION.” The latter really caught my attention. Not because I believed it, but because it could be easily taken as legitimate, starting with the name of the publisher: Macmillan. The sender claimed they had found, and reviewed, my profile at the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association, which I thought added some legitimacy to the message because my name was indeed on NITA’s directory of language professionals. However, the more I read the contents of the email, the more I realized this was a scam. Let’s look at some of these signs:

  1. Sender’s email address. This email message was sent using the address recruitment@macmillan-publishers.company.com, but doing a little research I found out that none of The Macmillan Group’s websites had “macmillan-publishers.company.com” as a domain name.

2. Message intro. As you can see in the snapshot below, the first paragraph alone has several punctuation mistakes and awkward wording, such as “and location in New York City,” “one of the top publishing company around the world,” “memoir,” and the lack of a period at the end of the paragraph. I mean, if we are talking about a publishing company, wouldn’t it be obvious to show good grammar and punctuation skills?

3. Message’s nitty-gritty. The next section of the message is interesting, to say the least. There is extremely awkward wording in the first two sentences under the “Responsibilities” subheading. However, the rest are pretty convincing and one may think this is the real deal as they use terms we all translators are very familiar with and are widely used in the translation industry. The “Requirements” part just cracked me up because the candidate is supposed to have experience as a translator, interpreter or similar role. I am not sure what the “similar role” would be in this case or the Linguistics certification part…just sayin’. The hourly rate, I must add, is very tempting. Perhaps this is the main appeal of these type of “recruitment messages.” Another concerning but attractive part of this email is the full-time position, which offer from large companies or translation agencies does not exist in this world.

4. Contact info to send resume and scheduling interview. And if, by now, we haven’t had enough surprises and laughs with this email, I am about to show you the best part. As you can see, interested candidates are to contact a person whose email’s domain name is @gmail rather than a corporate domain name, such as @macmillan.com. Doing a quick Google search, I found Mrs. Kristen Pecci is indeed working as an Associate HR Generalist at Macmillan, but her email address has an @macmillan.com domain name. The information asked of the candidates is also very odd, e.g., the name of the company (current employer), the position held, and having experience as a translator/interpreter agent. Lastly, the venue of the interview (and the way it is written): “On line Via Google Hangouts.”

The recruitment process is usually very different from what these types of offers show. This would be another strong sign to be aware of. Please don’t fall for these fake offers. They only want to get your personal information, so don’t even answer and never give them your Skype ID, phone number or any other contact information. Apparently, messaging apps that lack en-to-end encryption can still collect data information about you (metadata). Google Hangouts, in particular, seemed to be riddled with privacy and security concerns, hence its permanent closing in October 2019 and later transition to Hangouts Chat and Meet. Lately, scammers have been using Telegram to conduct interviews by chatting only and request copies of personal information, such as an ID.

This and other similar email messages have been reported on several T&I forums, such as Proz and Translator Scammers Directory (Twitter @scammerstsd), which is updated weekly by awesome volunteer colleagues. The takeaways are to 1) always check the domain name, if the domain name belongs to a company and the offer is too good to be true it’s likely to be a spoofed domain, thus you must 2) review the content of the email for typos and odd phrases or questions such as the ones explained here, 3) check the above websites or do a simple Google search to verify the email message is a scam, and 4) never send your resume or personal information unless you are sure the offer is legitimate.

Please see snapshots of other email messages I’ve received using different company names and email addresses. In these messages, they ask candidates to contact an HR representative via the telegram app or gmail instant messaging.

Add your comments at the end of this post to share your personal experience and let’s fight these scammers!

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