Posted by: patenttranslator | June 25, 2017

In an Almost Completely Fake World, Even Translators’ Résumés Are Fake

“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

– George Orwell

“This is a man’s world”, sang James Brown in one of his songs filled with honesty and emotion back in the sixties.

If he were still alive today, he might write a song with the title “This is a fake world”, because we are now so surrounded by a fake reality that it is almost impossible to tell real from unreal.

My caller ID displays completely fake, made up names of people who don’t exist. The phone numbers sometimes begin with an area code from right here in Virginia, but that does not mean the caller really is calling from Virginia because all you have to do is to pick a phone number for any area in any country with a desired area code on the internet.

The result is that we no longer answer our phone when it rings. At least I don’t, unless I recognize the caller’s name and number.

I even hesitate to describe the people behind telephone marketing scams as callers. Scammers would be a more accurate description – why would they use a phony name and number, if it is not a scam?

Although there are real persons hiding somewhere behind a computer program who are somehow connected to a fake name and phone number, we are now being called by computer programs instead of by real persons – computer programs designed to call dozens or hundreds of people at the same time because the telemarketing peddlers of whatever it is they are peddling know that most people do the same thing I do: they only answer the phone if they recognize the name and number as legitimate.

My email inbox is filled with fake messages sent by other computer programs under more fake names. This morning I scrolled through 83 emails from email marketers before I found an answer to an email I sent yesterday to a translator.

The answer was there – I saw that she did accept the translation, but only after wading through all the deceptive junk. I need to figure out how to switch to a new email from my current one, the one that I have been using for the last 17 years, without losing contact with people who still use that email. Since I try to delete the spam as soon as possible, sometimes I inadvertently delete important messages without realizing it, and sometimes, important message are routed to the spam folder automatically by my anti-virus software.

This is something that must be happening to millions or hundreds of millions of people every day in a world that is almost completely fake. Young people don’t seem to use email much anymore, and most of them don’t have a landline either. My sons for example almost never email me, they use apps (app me?) instead.

Among the fake emails and marketing emails that I receive constantly, some of them asking me to click on a file with a virus hidden in it, are also marketing emails from translators sending me their résumés in the hope that I will send them some work.

Some of them may be sent by real people – usually people who have no skills and no experience in the kind of work that I do, but some of them are résumés of translators who seem to have real skills and experience.

But here again, there is a minor problem – they were stolen from real translators by predatory outfits created by people who live in Gaza, or maybe Hyderabad or Chisinau.

I was introduced to the concept of stolen identities two years ago in an interesting presentation of a speaker who was showing us samples of stolen résumés at a IAPTI conference two years ago in Bordeaux, France.

“This guy here”, said the speaker, “is a real person, he really is a translator, and he really has a PhD in nuclear physics”.

“But the person in this résumé does not exist because, although it originally was the résumé of a real person, it was stolen from a real translator and modified slightly, usually so that only contact information, such as an email address, was changed”.

Hijacking résumés of real translators of course already has a long tradition in the translation industry. Translation agencies, who now prefer to be called be “LSPs” (Language Services Providers) because it sounds as if they themselves are providing the language services, and not translators, have been soliciting résumés of experienced and well established translators for at least two decades to use them for their own purposes, usually to deceive their customers and make them believe that the people who translate their documents are educated, experienced and well qualified translators, and not the cheapest warm bodies listed among another 3,500 warm bodies in the agency’s database (although some of them are probably dead already).

I remember that about 15 years ago, I stupidly sent my own résumé and a copy of my diploma to an agency in the UK that was bidding on a big project and needed translators like me.

I never heard from them again, of course. Maybe they didn’t get the job, but even if they did land a major project, the résumés they solicit are used only for the bidding part and the job is then parceled out to much cheaper translators who may not be very qualified, but are cheap enough for the translation industry.

I never did it again. It is not a good idea to send information like that to people I don’t know.

The résumés that I delete daily from my spam folder are probably real if they are written clearly by people who have no relevant experienced (from my viewpoint), and if they seem to be from experienced and capable translators, lowering the chances that they have been stolen for nefarious purposes by outfits operating as “back offices” of the translation industry from low-wage countries.

In a world where everything is a lie, to tell the truth is a revolutionary act, as George Orwell put it.

In this world, even the relatively new means of communication that used to work for quite a few years, such as telephone and email, have been compromised to such an extent that we can’t trust them anymore.

The best and possibly only way to find a good translator now is to completely ignore these compromised means of communication and rely instead on what people have been relying on for centuries – recommendations from friends and people we know.

Nothing else can be trusted.



  1. “Translation agencies […] have been soliciting résumés of experienced and well established translators for at least two decades to use them for their own purposes, usually to deceive their customers and make them believe that the people who translate their documents are educated, experienced and well qualified translators.”

    I am under the same impression. They even ask for copies of your certifications and if you answer their request, they don’t even acknowledge receipt.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You served your purpose already, why should they bother acknowledging receipt when they have no intention of working with you?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Turn any (free) profession into a business, and the results will be predictable.
    The only solution is to make it illegal/difficult to sell a personal, intellectual service not carried out by oneself (it’s illegal in most professions).

    The first step in this solution is for properly qualified translators to represent themselves as professionals rather than free-lancers/vendors/business operators :

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think my experience with these guys takes the cake. Some years ago a Spanish outfit asked for my resume, certifications, etc.–they were particularly interested in copies of diplomas–to bid in an EU tender for work into several languages, including Portuguese. When I naïvely asked whether they actually needed Brazilian rather than European Portuguese, they told me to hurry because their deadline was approaching. Evidently, I began to file such requests in the trash.

    In more than one of these requests, they said that the EU required the prospective translators’ diplomas and evidence that they had translated (I think) 1,500,000 words in the relevant language pair.

    These specifications and the way they are “checked” are so slipshod that I suspect the eurocrats simply don’t care enough about these translations to fix things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Or possibly they actually *believe* that the tendering companies will actually stick to their contractual obligations. Some do, I’m sure, and may well lose out in the bidding process because they’ve calculated than into their tender.


      • HI Alison,

        I’m less optimistic. Finding out that these obligations aren’t followed would take 5 minutes of googling and this spiel has been going on for years. It also seems that the eurocrats never bothered to set up any sort of audit procedure either.

        In my case the Spanish PM didn’t even bother to pretend their firm wasn’t playing games. Apparently she was not only too disgruntled to even make the spiel credible, but also knew full well that she was procuring a dirt-cheap product for an indifferent eurocrat who was (and maybe still is) kicking this sorry can down the road.

        In summary, I see no point in pursuing this work, and the most cost-effective approach (considering your time) is trashing these inane requests.

        Liked by 2 people

    • (This one was meant as a response for pcmendez)

      Although my clients are sometime difficult too, I am so glad that I don’t have to work for the government or major governmental organizations in this and other countries.

      During a slow period at the beginning of May, I was contacted by a headhunting agency for a major translation project for US government. At the beginning, I was trying to supply all the paperwork, no matter how stupid and unnecessary I thought the requirements were.

      But in the end I used the requirement for submitting a free test as a way to get out of this prospective project.

      I said that I would only do the test if I am paid for it … because I knew that neither the government not the headhunting agency were in the habit of paying slaves for work that they are naturally expected to do for free.

      In case you missed it, I describe the rigamarole in this post:

      I am so glad I did that because by mid May I was again swamped with better paying work.


      • I read that post. Actually I’m the Paulo Mendes who commented on it. It seems I logged in using my WordPress ID by mistake. Sorry for the confusion.

        Is GSA registration worthwhile for US-based translators? I heard that average rates aren’t great, but maybe there are some bright spots.


  5. My guess is that they need the credentials of qualified translators to succeed in their bid. After winning the bid, the work will be allocated to the cheapest (unqualified) translators to maximize profits. Isn’t capitalism a wonderful system?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems the rule of thumb is not to let unknowns have copies of your CV: I’ve been happy to participate in tenders for people/companies I know and trust. In the past, my response to others has tended to be along the lines of: I’ve already allowed someone else to use my details, but do feel free to contact me should you win the tender.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Concerning your story of the person mentioned at the IAPTI who indeed had a Ph.. in nuclear physics – what on earth was he/she doing working as a translator! How low can one sink! Incidentally, a BBC news item recently publicised the winner of the Mann Booker International Prize for Literature and explained that the winner and the translator would share the prize money. The name of the winner was stated, that of the translator was not!


    • Josephine, do you not know a number of professionally highly-qualified people who have abandoned their original profession for translation? I do. Perhaps the career change suits them.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. FYI: The Translator Scammers Directory lists over 48000 scammers and describes their numerous schemes, incuding resume theft:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. An alternative title could be also “Directory of Executives and Professionals in the Translation Industry”.


  9. Better: “Directory of Exceptional Executives and Professionals Seriously Harming the Industry of Translation” – better known by its acronym 🙂


  10. Sad Truth About the Translation Industry:


  11. “Is GSA registration worthwhile for US-based translators?”

    I don’t know. There is a list of registered translation providers online, none of them is a translator, all of them are translation agencies. I don’t know how to find it anymore, but you can see the different rates that smaller agencies and big agencies like Transperfect charges the government if you can find the URL. The government probably does not want to work with translators directly would be my guess. WIPO in Geneva, for example, has the same policy. They sent me requests to submit a bid several times, but only because they thought I was an agency.

    It would be too much trouble for me. I don’t really want to be a translation factory.


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