Phony Badges at Zoom Depositions: Court Interpreters Sue Over Alleged Identity Theft

California Interpreting Impersonation

An advocacy group representing court interpreters in California has sued a workers’ compensation company for alleged impersonation of certified interpreters.

The Association of Independent Judicial Interpreters of California (AIJIC) filed a lawsuit on January 31, 2024, against Jacksonville, CA-headquartered One Call Corporation, which coordinates services related to workers’ compensation. This includes supplying interpreters across the US.

Citing sworn declarations from court reporters and the impersonated interpreters, AIJIC identified at least nine instances in 2021 and 2022 in which One Call interpreters — potentially employees, independent contractors, or both — appeared in Zoom depositions based in California and misrepresented themselves as certified court interpreters.

“In some instances, these individuals also have provided fake Judicial Council of California badges bearing the names of the certified court interpreters they were impersonating,” AIJIC wrote in a July 2023 update on the organization’s website that asserted the impersonation was ongoing.

AIJIC sent One Call a cease-and-desist letter dated December 1, 2022, informing the company of California-certified interpreters being impersonated by “unknown individuals employed by One Call.” One Call assured AIJIC that the company would no longer engage the individuals who interpreted for the Zoom depositions in question, but declined to identify them by name.

According to AIJIC, after that response, One Call employed at least one of those impersonators again, at a pre-deposition meeting with a worker and his attorney. AIJIC notified One Call of the impersonation and requested the true name of the interpreter, but received no response.

The motive? Appropriating others’ identities has “benefited [One Call] commercially,” the lawsuit states. AIJIC argues that not only were the interpreters impersonating others, but they were not certified to interpret in California for workers’ compensation proceedings.

In other words, One Call’s interpreters impersonated certified interpreters in order to work cases for which they would otherwise be unqualified, losing business for both themselves and One Call.

Identity theft in this case directed business to One Call that might otherwise have gone to other language service providers and/or individual interpreters.

AIJIC alleges that by engaging non-certified interpreters who impersonated others, One Call violated California’s Unfair Competition Law.

The fallout reportedly affected injured workers with limited English proficiency; professionals who rely on certified interpreters to conduct their work in the field of workers’ compensation; certified interpreters in California; and competing businesses that do comply with California regulations with regard to interpreter certification.