Category Scams

Alert: My business name is being used without permission by a fraudulent website

Alert

The website vancouverctv dot com is using my business name without my permission (and until yesterday morning, knowlegdge), along with some random and thankfully incoherent excerpts taken from my website. Thanks to Google Alerts I was alerted immediately about this webpage. My business name, which is used on the aforementioned site without my permission, has been and is registered in the State of California, United States of America, since 2010. Finally, the illegal use of copyrighted excerpts from my website violate the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

On the same page (see screenshots below), highly unethical academic paper writing services are advertised, that is, a website is advertised, where students can pay for somebody else to write their term papers or other homework for them. This practice is not only unethical, it also constitutes fraud. I have absolutely nothing to do with these academic paper writing services or that website.

I am in the process of consulting with a lawyer on how to proceed in terms of legal action against the aforementioned fraudulent website, unless they immediately remove my business name.

Unethical impostor vancouverctv

Unethical website using my business name without permission.


Unethical impostor vancouverctv

Unethical website using my business name without permission, 2nd screenshot.

Google Alerts

Google is one of the most-used search engines of the world. Aside from its search engine, Google offers a variety of other well-known services. However, there’s a very useful service that is relatively unknown: Google Alerts.

What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts allow you to set up automatic email notifications whenever new entries are added to the top search results for the specific search term or keyword that you are asking Google Alerts to monitor.

Why should I use Google Alerts?

  • To monitor your online reputation: Everybody should care about their online reputation. If you are self-employed and/or a small business owner, you should care even more, because chances are, that the majority of your clients searches you online at some point. In this day and age of impersonation scams and identity theft, it is even more important to regularly check your online presence. If you set up a Google Alert with your name (and some variations), Google will do that for you.
  • To stay abreast of topics that interest you: Most of us are subscribed to email lists, RSS feeds, blogs, etc. But how will you hear about a new online news source on an interesting topic that is not yet on the radar of these standard sources? Google Alerts can help.
  • To research sectors and industries: Be it for investment purposes, to find new clients, to monitor the competition, or simply to stay on top of developments in the sector you are working in, Google Alerts can be useful if you pick the right search terms.
  • To follow important people: Just set up an alert with their name, and you’re all set.

How do I set up a Google Alert?

Setting up a Google Alert.

Setting up a Google Alert.

  1. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts/. You don’t even have to have a Google account.
  2. If you have a Google account, sign in. If you don’t, proceed with the next step.
  3. Enter the search term you want to monitor.
  4. Select the desired options in terms of delivery, frequency, language, etc.
  5. Enter your email address if you don’t have a Google account.
  6. Click on “Create Alert.”

That’s it!

Scam alert!!!!!

An outfit called “Alliance of Applied Translators and Interpreters International”, AATII, has illegally acquired the publicly available information and names of thousands of translators and interpreters from various reputable directories, such as the ATA directory, and is using this information list the translators and interpreters without their consent on their site. My name and information was stolen as well without my knowledge (until this morning) or permission. Hacking of the associated databases does not seem to be involved, since only publicly available information was mined and subsequently falsely represented.

According to Whois, the website in question (which will not be linked here) is registered to the following person:

Registrant Name: LIXIN CHENG
Registrant Organization: Princemountain Transnational Services Inc.
Registrant Street: #300-5900 No. 3 Road
Registrant City: RICHMOND
Registrant State/Province: British Columbia
Registrant Postal Code: V6X 3P7
Registrant Country: CA
Registrant Phone: +1.6043702171

Warning: Do not do business with either AATII or Princemountain Translational Services until this matter is resolved!

Update: As of yesterday afternoon (April 15, 2016, US Pacific), the misused information has been removed from the site.

Update August 2020: According to the Law Society of BC, Li Xin Cheng dba Princemountain Translational Services Inc. has been banned from practicing law by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Click here for details.

Copyright protection

Evidently, some of my writings and thoughts on various topics on this blog seem to be worthy to be pirated and are posted elsewhere without my permission or knowledge or referring back to this website. So, unfortunately, I have had to take some drastic measures to protect my intellectual property and added a plug-in that prevents certain keyboard shortcuts and mouse click actions. You should still be able to download the linked (and secured) files, but you shouldn’t be able to copy and paste stuff anymore.

If you want to use the material on this site elsewhere, please shoot me a message, I’m happy to work out an agreement that won’t cost you an arm and a leg (meaning, with the proper attribution, you’ll likely be able to use the content for free).

Article on Translation Scams published in The ATA Chronicle

I am happy to announce that my article “Translation Scams: Avoiding Them and Protecting Your Identity” has just been published in the October edition of The ATA Chronicle (links to an almost final pre-print version).

The article is a summary of my series of blog posts on the topic. You can access the original blog posts here:
Maria Brown and the Nigeria connection
Password Protection for your CV/Resume with Adobe Acrobat
Protection against Identity Theft
Translation Scams – Buyers and Translators Beware!
Verifying Identities and Payment Practices Online

Verifying Identities and Payment Practices Online

In a previous post, I explained various schemes to scam people out of their money. The best protection against any of these schemes is to verify that you are really dealing with who you think you are.

There are two types of scammers:

  • Scammers, who don’t try too hard, on the assumption that they’ll eventually find a victim who is gullible enough. These sort of scams are fairly easy to spot, as I’ll explain below.
  • Impostors, who impersonate a reputable person, such that people who actually check the names of the people they are dealing with are fooled into thinking they are doing business with the real person, whereas all their exchanges and transactions happen with the impostor. These types of scam are much harder to uncover.

Impostors and Scammers – Typical Red Flags

Note that the presence of any one of these warning signs alone doesn’t mean that you’re dealing with a dishonest person. All these signs combined with a few online checks that I’ll explain below, however, strongly point to a scam attempt.

Your alarm bells should ring if you receive an inquiry that contains the following:

    • The email was sent from a free account such as gmail, yahoo, etc.
      While this is not necessarily in itself an indication that the request is a scam/spam-email, it’s a strong indication in combination with the other signs below. I have, in fact, several good direct clients that write via gmail, but I know them from other sources, therefore I know that they are legitimate. Most of my other clients, however, write via their corporate accounts.

    • A proper salutation is missing and the email is sent to my email-address via bcc.
      This points to the fact that this is a mass scam attempt.

    • The request is written in really, really bad English, despite the fact that the sender claims to have a source text in English and claims to have a name indicative of a native English speaker.
    • The request does not contain any contact information aside from a generic email address and possibly a phone number in a strange country.
      This is in general a strong indicator that the email is a scam/phishing attempt. Everybody has an address and phone number and most people have a website these days. A name such as “Maria Brown”, which is essentially un-Googleable because it’s too generic, immediately raises red flags. If somebody really wants a translation, even if they’ve never bought a translation before, they give a name and address and possibly other contact information so that the provider can contact the translation buyer with the quote. A name and address can also be used to search for that buyer online and verify his/her existence, as I’ll explain below.

    But what if you receive a serious inquiry, from a person/company whom you searched for and found online, with apparently proper contact information?

    You should still check out the potential client more thoroughly. For one, they could impersonate somebody else, or for another, they could be one of those black sheep on the translation market who never pay (and get away with it!).

    Verifying IP-Adresses and Internet Domains

    Typically, impostors proceed as follows:

    • They steal a reputable person’s credentials. In this post I explain how to safeguard yourself against this.
    • They modify the contact details to display their own contact information, possibly with a fake name.
    • If they are smart, they use an email address and possibly a domain name that very closely resembles the original address and domain.
      I myself fell victim to this once, when I got contacted by somebody purporting to be a project manager of a reputable agency. I checked out the agency and did my research, but what I did not notice was that the inquiry was sent from an email address ending in .net instead of the agency’s .com. That is, the email came from projectmanager@translationagency.net instead of projectmanager@translationagency.com. Of course, when I checked out the agency, their website was at http://www.translationagency.com. The scammers had simply temporarily bought the domain name translationagency.net, since domain names are fairly cheap these days.


    How can you check whether an email/inquiry is legit if scammers buy domain names left and right?

    You can check the domain name via Whois, and you can check the IP-address the inquiry was sent from. This is done as follows:

    1. Visit http://centralops.net/co/DomainDossier.aspx
    2. Type the domain name into the search box, and check the options “domain whois record” and “network whois record”. The rest of the options may be a bit confusing, unless you’re an internet wiz. But then you wouldn’t be reading this part of the post, would you?
    3. The Domain Whois Record tells you who registered the domain and who is its administrator, along with their address and telephone number. This is important if you receive an inquiry from somebody supposedly from the US, but in reality they’re actually sitting someplace else.
    4. The Network Whois Record tells you the IP-address range of that domain. Every computer on the web has an IP-address, uniquely identifying the computer’s location and the computer itself (just like a phone number). It consists of 4 numbers separated by 3 dots, e.g. 123.4.56.789 (Of course, this is not a real IP-address, because it’s out of range, but this is the format). This is important because you can check whether the email that was sent really came from this domain, as I’ll explain in the next step. This is optional, because it does not always provide more information. The Domain record should already give you lots of information.
    5. If you don’t want to check the email IP-address, skip the next 2 steps. Otherwise, go to your email program or webmail and display the header information. Here’s a good list compiled by Google explaining for various email/webmail programs how to display the header. When you have displayed the header, do not panic. Instead, read on.
    6. You can safely ignore everything except the lines that start with Received:. These lines represent a list of all the servers/computers through which the message traveled on its way to you. The top “Received”-line is your own system. The last “Received:”-line at the bottom is the computer where the message was sent from. You want to check this one again at http://centralops.net/co/DomainDossier.aspx (yes, the search box also works with IP-addresses). Of course, this may or may not correspond to the information you obtained from the domain name, because in this day and age, some people reroute their emails through other interfaces.

    You should now have a pretty good idea who contacted you and from where. Armed with this information you can do further research, see below, if the contact is a translation agency.

    Doing Business with Agencies – Payment Practices

    Anybody with a computer and internet access can open a translation agency today, from anywhere in the world. While there are many very reputable agencies out there, there are also any number of fly-by-night “agencies” who are only looking to make a quick buck at the expense of translators and end clients.

    Therefore, if you are a translator and are doing business with agencies, it pays to become a member of various online forums that discuss payment practices or to subscribe to databases that list the payment practices of various agencies. Here’s a list of forums and databases I consult regularly:

    These are just a few among many, and your mileage may vary. I personally rely most on the Payment Practices database and found the Zahlungspraxis Yahoo group quite useful.