Although it perhaps doesn’t fall under the category of “scams”, one of the most famous scams in the translation industry took place at the Nelson Mandela Memorial. Many will remember Tamsanqa Jantjie, the fake sign language interpreter, who stood within feet of President Obama. If it can happen at this level, then the risks are self-evident.
So how can you safeguard against such problems?
There are many great linguists working within the industry, whether they are those offering relatively simple translations, or those who offer technical excellence as well as advanced language skills – the sort you will find working alongside our company. They face their own challenges and scams without having to contend with the growing problem of fake translators, or businesses using them without payment.
An example of the extent of the problem is revealed at the Translator Scammers Directory website:
This lists the details of email addresses used by these various scams – unqualified persons often stealing the identities of bona fide translators, as well as the details of the victim.
Why would someone impersonate a translator?
A scammer could steal the CV/identity of a translator and maintain that they can offer the service you require, in the language you seek. They may then use some form of open-source machine translation which would not have the quality of a professional translation, and would almost certainly contain any number of errors. There would be no proofread – the scammer may not even speak nor understand the target language. By the time the bill has been paid they will have disappeared.
Many people can use two or more languages – this doesn’t make them a qualified translator. If you require someone to give you the gist of an enquiry then a bilingual person may well be suitable. If you require a technical document to be translated then you need a professional who has qualifications in language skills as well as the specialisation they are providing for. To avoid the scams in the translation industry you need to be aware of who you are dealing with. As the old adage goes: if it seems too good to be true – it probably is.
We are a member of the Association of Translation Companies, a Network member of the European Union of Associations of Translation Companies, as well as a service provider for a number of Chambers of Commerce within the UK. At Technical Translations we do the sourcing work for you; we have a stringent policy for selecting translators to join our team, which will help you avoid the scams detailed above. For more details on our selection process click here.