I cannot believe I fell for that

Just recently, in September, I was offered a large translation project by an agency that appeared to be located in either India or Singapore. After a bit of ping pong regarding my rate I finally accepted and dropped everything to deliver by a very ambitious deadline.

I delivered the project in several batches, received reasonable feedback, and had no reason to believe that anything was wrong. Payment terms were 30 days, I agreed; so far so good.

30 days passed. No contact, no payment. Needless to say that I was unable to get in touch with them and, surprise surprise, really only had an email address. And here was me wondering about their pretty good rate (India is not exactly known for paying high rates).

It was only then that I started doing some research, and I have now come to the conclusion that I’ve been led on by a fraudster. Who, me? Sensible me? But I’m always careful! I never forward chain mail! I never open unsolicited email, never mind unknown attachments! I fell for the oldest trick in the book, and I’m out of pocket by a few thousand euros because of it.

The company name is Tarin Translation, and my contact was Kelvin Marks. So, if you receive an email offering you a nice big project… just treat it as spam and delete.

Here are a few lessons I learned:

  • Make sure you have a telephone number (that works)
  • Make sure you have actual company details, including a full address (and not just a PO Box)
  • Make sure you ask for a PO and don’t get started without one
  • If the rate sounds too good to be true… it probably is! Ask for 20% down payment
  • Trust your instincts. If it feels off, it probably is!

On a related note, I discovered this website: http://www.paymentpractices.net/, that allows translators to talk about, er, payment practices of translation agencies. You get a 7-day free trial, and it’s about $20 thereafter. You know what to do!

  1. You should make an entry on http://www.paymentpractices.net/.

    I will see if I can’t report Tarin Translation to the police and also get a collection agency to help me. I should have done better research beforehand, but they need to be out of business for good.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing. I had actually asked for a 10% down payment, but they flatly refused and I really wanted the job. So here’s another lesson: be more insistant!

    • Margit Schaafberg
    • November 12th, 2010

    Oh my God… Was this the cooking book project? I was just starting to wonder about the payment and found that their website is no longer available. When I was looking for the name I found your web page. Phantastic, more than 1000 $ lost and almost lost a very good customer for not accepting his job because of this project. And yes – in my case Kelvin was also the contact person.
    Greetings from another victim…

    • Hi Margit,

      Thank you for your feedback! There are quite a few of us 😉 I sent you an email.


    • Vrinda Kulkarni
    • December 10th, 2010

    Well, here I am to join you folks, whih have been cheated by Kelvin, lost about 500 Euro. Going to the police does not show any results, my experience with another client, also from India. Though I myslef am an Indian, I was unaware that Indians can also do such a fraud. I am writing a last mail to Kelvin to his given email. Here it goes:

    “So you are a fraud.
    If you are still human enough and care a little, instead of laughing at us translators, who have fallen to your trick, just go out in the world and look at the unhappy faces, who might be your kins too. Think of the sorrow they have and also about cheats like you, because of whom they are in such miserable state.”

    I do not expect any reply to this, but may be a corner of his brain and heart gets affected. What say?

    • Thanks Vrinda – looks like this is/was a large-scale fraudster.

      To be honest, I don’t think he reads his emails anymore 😉 So sorry about your unpaid invoice, it’s a lot of money! Have you reported him to the police? I believe there is a Cyberpolice in Bangalore, you should try them if you can get there in person. I tried to contact them via email but have not yet had a reply.


    • Vrinda Kulkarni
    • December 10th, 2010

    Thanks Katja for your post on comment. Actually, I with my two other translator friends had tried catching another such fraud from Bangalore with the help of the police there. One friend was twice or thrice there in person, but the police could not do anything! This agency is called Allies Language Solutions, also named SGP Language Services. If Tarin is also from Bangalore, I think, they are the same folks working under different names. This is a very big racket, they are simply collecting money through various ways, possibly to help anti-social activities worldwide. This is what we translators in India, whoever is in my contact, believe. We are trying to tackle it in our own way, police is of no use.
    We, from all parts of the world, should contact as many people as possible thr’ such posts and let the information about such frauds spread as far as possible and as early as possible, so that lesser people are cheated.

  3. Tarin Translation et al. are criminals. Do you know http://www.paymentpractices.net/? Please also report them there. I know they are already blacklisted on Proz.com.

    Please feel free to send me an email to info@babellon.com, and I can share a few more details.

    • Xinxi
    • October 15th, 2012

    Thanks for the warning! Are there any Indian translation agencies you can recommend?

    • Sorry, but no. I’m trying to move away from agencies altogether 😉

        • Xinxi
        • October 15th, 2012

        Impressive. I’ve bee a freelancer for years now – with side jobs as language teacher, though – , but agencies are still my main provider of clients/assignments. Even though there are legends about millionaire translators in “my” language pairing (Chinese to German), finding good clients is pretty hard. Moreover, agencies work like an insurance and pay on time – even if the end client is late.

      • You are very lucky then. Most of the agencies I have worked with in the past had payment terms of at least 45 days, usually 60 days, sometimes 90 days. And many a time I even needed to remind them to pay me. I’ve had bad experiences with direct clients, too, but agencies really are the black sheep to me. Moreover, agencies tend to pay really low rates, even if they provide steady work.

        I’ve been a freelancer for years, too, but I also do web design/consulting, and I’m currently working on language teaching (ESL). Makes the workday more interesting 😉

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