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Translation companies in Britain and around the globe may have received a tempting approach at the end of November from an ‘Arab Prince’ seeking an interpreter for a 10 day shopping trip he was planning with his entourage.

In Britain, the Association’s General Secretary, Geoffrey Bowden, issued an "exercise caution" notice as he soon got wind that an identical inquiry had been received in the Netherlands. Later, it emerged that the same inquiry was received in the USA and then others around the world reported that the Prince looked to be on a shop-till-he-drops global marathon, which was to be completed within the same 10 day period ahead of last Christmas.

Many translation companies reported having received the inquiry direct. Despite the warning notice from the ATC, some were tempted by the offer, responded to it and had their price quotations accepted with alacrity.

One member of the Association of Translation Companies, Accurate Translations of London admits they were initially taken in by the scam.

Managing Director Peter Brooks said: “We responded to the offer, ahead of receiving the ATC warning. We received a cheque for nearly twice the amount we had quoted and assumed the "Prince" had confused US dollars with £ sterling.”

A dozen or so e-mails later the "Prince" had to cancel his visit because, reports Brooks, the Prince’s mother-in-law had suffered a stroke after learning that members of her family had perished in the Far Eastern tsunami tragedy.

“We were asked if we would return his money by bank transfer less 15% for the inconvenience we suffered.

“Five days later our suspicions were confirmed when the cheque he had sent us proved to be fraudulent.

“We had not, of course, returned any money, and would not have done so until the authenticity of the cheque had been confirmed, even though it had been credited to our account. That confirmation can take two - three weeks.”

It was a simple scam, which despite the use of international translation community networks, still managed to fool some regretably.


This article was originally published in Communicate - the Association of Translation Companies' newsletter -

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