Posted by: patenttranslator | April 8, 2018


Telephone Call Scams

“Scam likely” is a message that is often displayed on my iPhone’s screen when I am receiving a telephone call these days. I find it a little scary that even before I have a chance to check the number to make a determination on my own, the phone knows already what is going on.

At the beginning of the internet age, we  could still trust the area codes of the telephone numbers displayed on our low-tech call ID: 212 was somebody calling from Manhattan, 213 was somebody calling from downtown LA, and 312 was definitely somebody calling us from Chicago.

This is no longer true because scammers can now buy a telephone area code tailored to the type of scam they are running on the internet, whether they are calling you from the house next to yours, or from a scam operation located on the other side of the country or on a different continent.

Because most of the calls that I receive on the number of my virtual landline that has been displayed on my website for some two decades are from telephone scam boiler rooms, I only occasionally monitor on my cell phone the calls on that compromised line, just in case the caller is not a marketing operation or a scammer.

The more you answer calls like that, even just to hang up immediately, the more calls you will receive. So it’s best not to answer at all.

The telemarketing industry is probably only a few years away from killing off the use of real landlines by the people who still have them. Just like the “translation industry” is killing itself by competing solely on price while selling to its customers translations of appalling quality at lower and lower prices, the telemarketing industry is also killing itself by incessantly calling people who want to be left alone.

Neither of these two industries seems to be aware of its tenuous future. Or maybe they simply don’t care because the people running it and working for it simply don’t know how to make money in a safer and more honest manner.

It seems that the telemarketing industry still lacks access to our cell phone numbers because I don’t receive any marketing or scam calls on my cell phone, possibly because politicians need to be able to use the cell phones of potential voters to run their own scams called electoral campaigns.

So a few years ago, I solved the sad situation by creating a new virtual landline number, which I only give to actual customers. When that phone line rings, I always answer because it’s either a customer or a friend.  My new virtual landline number is now a closely guarded secret that may be disclosed only to a limited number of people.

Spammy Emails

“This message may be a scam” is what my email program sometime displays about emails when I receive new emails. Some of these emails are just lame attempts at marketing rather than outright malicious scams, but almost all of them are spam, not something that I would be even remotely interested in reading. I read somewhere that ninety five percent of emails messages are spam. The constant, never ending current of spam messages from a myriad of marketing operations into our mail boxes is also one reason why marketing of translators’ résumés to translation agencies or direct customers is extremely ineffective.

But it is not the only reason, and probably not even the most important reason.

Stolen Translators’ Résumés and Identities

I found out about this practice, which is now rampant, for the first time from an excellent presentation by Joao Roque Dias at the IAPTI Conference in Bordeaux in 2015.

The practice of stealing identities of qualified and experienced translators is very damaging to all translators because it makes it very difficult to determine whether the translator’s résumé that was just received is a genuine one, or whether it is a stolen résumé in which the contact details have been changed and which is circulated on the internet to underbid qualified translators.

The epidemic of fake résumés that look promising, credible and authentic means for me that I no longer pay much attention to résumés that I receive. I receive a lot of them every day, even though I mostly translate myself and the agency part of my work is relatively small. But I automatically consider all unsolicited résumés that I receive to be a likely scam and don’t pay much attention to them.

A particularly active operation generating fake résumés is located in Gaza. I have been a target of this operation for quite some time and I still am receiving a lot of résumés from this operation every week.

I hate to admit it, but I actually fall for this trick at one point a few years ago when I sent a very short translation to a seemingly promising new translator in response to a newly received résumé. I always send a very short translation at first to make sure that the potential damage will not cost me too much.

The translation that I received was quite good in some respects, but it also contained incredibly stupid mistakes, probably because it was “perfected” by editing and modifying Google Translate or another machine translation program.

It took me a long time and I was cursing myself for my own stupidity, but because I knew the language and the subject of the translation, I was able to eventually fix the translation so that it would make sense, before sending it to a client.

It was only at the point when I was sending the payment to the translator by PayPal for this horrible translation, (I always pay the translator, even if the job was botched and I will never contact the translator again), that I discovered that the recipient had an Arabic name and that I fell victim to a scam that is based on stolen identities of actual translators.

But would a typical project manager who does not understand the language, let alone the specific subject, even notice that something is wrong with a translation because it contains a number of inexplicable errors?

I doubt it.

A typical project manager working in the modern version of the “translation industry”, who does not understand the languages he manages and does not know anything about the specific subjects either because he has to deal with “every language and every subject” would probably not notice anything, and continue to supply substandard translations to the agency’s client, as long as the client does not protest and pays the bill.

There are signs that we can look for in order to distinguish genuine résumés from stolen ones and to protect our identity and , some of which are listed in this blog post by Marta Stelmaszak.

But since we are surrounded by likely scams everywhere we look, including in the field of translation, I believe that at this point there is only one safe method to look for qualified translators:  using only a translator who has been recommended to me by another translator I already know.

All unsolicited résumés now go straight into the spam folder because I see them as a likely scam.


  1. Hi there! So, phones only with T-Mobile and MetroPCS display the “Scam Likely” function. It’s a cool partnership between a company called First Orion and T-Mobile and MetroPCS. First Orion created the FREE scam blocking app called PrivacyStar. To activate these features, T-Mobile and MetroPCS users can dial the following codes from their smartphone:

    #ONI# (#664#): Enables Scam ID
    #ONB# (#662#): Enables Scam Block
    #OFB# (#632#): Disables Scam Block
    #STS# (#787#): Check if Scam Block is Enabled


  2. I got a scam call on Thursday. Vodafone customer. They tried to sneak my password out of me to give me some 50 euro credit, right. Nice try. Read about it the next day, many customers must have fallen for it. Beware out there, folks!


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