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Latest scam

An uproar went through the translating community last week, through all forums and mailing lists: if you haven’t heard, then either count yourself lucky, because you’re not affected, or get scrambling to see if perhaps maybe you are, after all. I got lucky, but I know of several colleagues here in Germany who weren’t!
What’s the story? Slator, a new translation industry newspaper, has it covered:

Scam and Talk About It: Contest Alerts Translators to Stolen Profiles

Scams are all too common in the translation industry. So common, that a website tracking it claims it has exposed some 4,000 scammers and over 10,000 e-mail addresses they use in 2015 alone.

Typically, translation scams revolve around modifying the CV of a
real, experienced translator and sending the fake to an agency in the
hope of getting work. Once work is assigned by the agency,  it is then
passed onto another rock-bottom-priced translator and, eventually, the
scammer gets paid by the agency.

Lured by the supposed ease of platform economics, however, an even
more brazen (yet poorly executed) attempt at identity theft unravelled
after job matching platform AATII.com listed in its database the names
and purported rates of thousands of translators without their consent or
knowledge.

No one would have been the wiser for a while, but AATII sent an
e-mail to their (presumably illegally obtained) database of translators
alerting them about a contest
that offered “a prize of USD 1,000.” In cash? It is hard to tell from
the way the mechanics are worded. Also, on April 5, 2016, AATII sent out
a tweet for the same contest called “#IAmATranslator, Therefore I Am!”

As a result of their attention being called to AATII.com, a number of
translators discovered their names and details on the AATII database
despite never having signed up to it. What’s more, AATII quoted a
per-word rate these translators never agreed to according to their
understandably irate postings in fora.

Making a splash

Unlike scams that take refuge in relative anonymity, AATII is right
out there promoting itself on social media (@AATIICOM) and even naming
its founder, a real person (Clint Cheng), who has replied in fora where
posters have complained. Which makes one wonder, was this a vile attempt
at fraud or just an inept attempt by someone at making money off a huge
database of translators they somehow got their hands on?

So what is AATII? AATII.com is the Alliance of Applied Translators
and Interpreters International; but it also stands for the Association
of Applied Translators and Interpreters International, online at
AATII.org.

While AATII.com is “a Canadian company” that matches translators and
interpreters with clients, AATII.org is a “not-for-profit association”
in Canada. The person behind both is Clint Cheng.

An unsigned “clarification” appeared on the forum of ProZ.com, an established job matching platform recently covered by Slator, stating that AATII is “a young company” and the contest was meant to “announce our presence with a splash.”

But the complaints continued, especially since the clarification
never really addressed the issue of why AATII offered the services of
translators without their consent. The complaints ranged from “I never
gave you permission to use my name” to “My details are incorrect,
including my so-called rates,” but most urged AATII to remove their
names from its database.

Back-pedalling

Finally signing his post, “ClintCheng” from Canada replied: “The
database is cleared and under review. We have heard a lot of concern
about how your names are listed on our website. I understand why some of
you are upset, so I have instructed our IT department to remove all the
accounts from the website except for those users who signed up for
themselves.”

Attempting to explain how the services of translators who had never
heard of AATII had come to be offered on their website, Cheng wrote, “We
supposed to send invitation (sic) to everybody first, but a mistake was
made so some of you received the message about the translation contest
instead.”

According to several forum posters, the translator listings for
certain language pairs had been drastically reduced. One comment said a
search for translations services on AATII for the English-Italian pair
once yielded 1,876 matches. Slator checked and we found only one listing
as of press time.

When we signed up as a client for translation from English to
Chinese, our search still yielded a substantial number, 1,965 matches;
but according to one forum,
it was 3,671 on April 15, 2016. Foremost of the lot was “George M
Cheng” who had an “AATII Professional Rating” of AA―a rating given out
by another Clint Cheng company, Princemountain Transnational Services.

We could not find anyone else with such a rating, apart from Clint
Cheng (not surprisingly, the highest rating, AAA), who turned up as the
first of four entries when we searched for an English to Chinese
interpreter.

Slator reached out to Clint Cheng for comment, but has received no response as of press time.

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