On January 3, 2023, the anonymous volunteers behind the Translator Scammers Directory (TSD) shared their annual report of scammer activities in 2022.
TSD’s goal is to expose criminals who impersonate legitimate translators by stealing their CVs, possible work, and potential earnings.
The CV scam starts when scammers offer to “market” a professional translator’s CVs to clients, but then replace the translator’s contact information with their own.
To deliver some sort of product to a client, scammers typically run text through machine translation (MT) or commission a severely underpaid (or unpaid) translator to do the work.
While asking for some kind of documentation to prove the “translator’s” identity seems like reasonable due diligence, TSD warns that scammers can easily forge such documents.
“Video calls are the ultimate weapon against scammers,” counsels TSD. “You’ll hear the most amazing excuses: ‘bad connection,’ ‘broken camera,’ ‘I’m driving,’ ‘no camera,’ ‘I have a sore throat,’ ‘I don’t use chat for business, just email.’”
TSD, which has been online since 2014, currently maintains a database of more than 21,470 email addresses used by scammers.
Other databases track scammers’ profiles in translation portals (234 to date); fake CVs (5,927); and fake addresses (4,182).
Trends in CV Scams
According to the report, TSD has observed a steady increase of emails related to other scams targeting translators, such as those that impersonate language service providers (LSPs) and overpayment schemes.
But for the first time since 2018, TSD has seen a drop in the number of new scammer IDs (names and email addresses) created — 559 in 2022 versus 665 in 2021. TSD estimates that about 98% of the fake CVs circulated in 2022 were recycled (i.e., not new) and sent from known or newly created email addresses.
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“However, no matter how big these numbers seem to be, the cold hard fact is that the CV scam is becoming less and less profitable to scammers: to our knowledge, NO SCAMMER GOT PAID IN 2022,” TSD wrote in its report.
The authors added, “It seems that some scamming operators are leaving the business, because it simply isn’t worth it anymore.”
TSD attributes the decline in payoff from CV scams to increased awareness among translators and LSPs, “leading to scammers being consistently exposed or just ignored.”