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I have applied for a job as a translator in a UK based company via Indeed, working from home. Everything about it looked legit - regular contact information, addresses, interview (even though conducted by phone), normal job hours, employment contract etc.

Was hired for a probationary period of 30 days, first day went well and everything was fine and dandy (they gave me corporate email, access to their online platform and a translation task to complete). Come afternoon of the second day, I receive a task to register on 2 different sites and send confirmation.

[Links removed]

These are... money exchange platforms? I started asking questions and they told me it was standard procedure for their project managers to use these platforms to receive payment from clients and then distribute it to project participants (even though monthly salary is to be paid on my bank account?)

I am very nervous about all of this. Could this be a scam?

EDIT: Forgot to mention, when I first gave them the IBAN for the bank account they said they were not collaborating with that (admittedly minor) bank and asked me to open an account with another bank from a list (all of them reputable and well known banks.)

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    Yes this is a scam. I will edit out the links to eliminate the benefit those sites would receive from having it linked to stackexchange. Full answer incoming. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon May 5 at 15:10
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    Some questions: Are you in the UK? Are you / will you be one of these "project managers"? If they're setting you up to receive money from "clients" and distribute it to others, that screams scam. If you're outside the UK, it might be an easy way to pay you, although (claiming) they will pay you via your bank account makes that dubious. – TripeHound May 5 at 15:11
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    @NewG Sorry I misread your post; I thought you had worked through your probationary period. This is still a scam - why wouldn't they have told you this critical detail upfront? "We might have you do this" doesn't make sense if they then make you do it the next day. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon May 5 at 15:44
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    "Not collaborating with that bank" is bollocks. They can transfer money to any account with an IBAN code. – DJClayworth May 6 at 14:50
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    Is there a way to flag this with Indeed? Maybe let them know their site is being used to recruit people to scams? – Conor May 6 at 15:59
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Never transfer money 'on behalf of' someone else. Never personally register for something that requires you to perform cash transactions in your own name, on behalf of your company.

[I've edited to remove a suggestion that you try and get paid - you've been there a day, better to just call this a loss and move on] Changing payment terms like this is common scam work. They may be simply trying to get free translation work out of you, while they also set you up to either participate in money laundering, or otherwise steal money from you in various ways.

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    Thanks for the answer. I am now reasonably sure this was all a scam effort (what a disappointment) Would you perhaps know if there is any way to report these frauds? There's a listing on Companies House for a company of the same name, complete with filings - don't know if it's them or they just tried to pass of as this company - so I would like to know if there's an official authority to contact in cases like these. – NewG May 5 at 17:03
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    @NewG It is unlikely that the business is actually registered for anything anywhere in the UK; it seems you have no contact information for them except perhaps some email addresses? Not much to be done I'm afraid. For your own sake, double your vigilence going forward; now that you have come this close to being scammed, it is likely that your name and contact details have been added to a scam database for others to use. You may also want to change bank account information since you have provided that to the scammers as well. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon May 5 at 17:22
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    @NewG, I've never tried it myself, but there exists something called Action Fraud which is run by the Police (police.uk is a genuine domain, even if it (and the website) looks a bit scammy). I understand that it's intended for reporting this sort of thing. I can't speak for how onerous the process is, or how likely there is to be any impact, but I guess it can't hurt to try. Also, in the unlikely event you have any legal trouble for having been linked to the scammers, I suppose you have something formal showing that you reported it. – DaveyDaveDave May 6 at 6:15
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    Thank you. I already reported the company on that website and received email confirmation about it. I'll take an extra security measure and report what happened to the police in my country, since the frauds are still in possession of some personal data. – NewG May 6 at 7:59
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    It might be kind to tell the genuine company (if you can be sure they are not in fact the scammers) that their reputation is being misused in this way. They are more likely to deal with the matter than Action Fraud, who in my experience do little more than collect statistics. – Paul_Pedant May 6 at 8:48
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This is definitely a scam, and it's a variation of the 'money mule scam' scam, where they send you a check, asking you to deposit it and then send a portion back to them or on to one or more others.

You could VERY easily find yourself in deep legal hot water if what you're being asked to do is interpreted as money laundering, and almost certainly that's what this is. What better way to "wash" dirty money than to use unsuspecting but trusting dupes to receive the dirty money and then 'clean' it through their bank accounts?

So far it sounds as though you haven't done anything that could get you into trouble, and you were smart enough to seek advice, so please heed it - get away from this thing as fast as can move and click your mouse.

Don't correspond with these people any further, don't delete any records of emails or other correspondence you've had with them (for your own wellbeing you want to hang on to this stuff for awhile), and don't do anything further as far as the job goes.
Having you open an account at a "well-known and reputable" bank is just another part of the scam for other victims most likely, since others might be more trusting (or at least less likely to ask questions) if they trust or know the bank.

I know people are advising you to ask for the money you've already earned, but I would get away from this as quickly as possible and with as little fuss as I could manage. Whatever you walk away from in terms of earnings should be considered the cost of learning a more valuable lesson about how and what to look for these kinds of situations in the future. And be thankful you didn't do anything foolish, like make money transfers for them, before figuring out (correctly) that these people are crooks.

Even if their goal was to get free work out of you, walking away from whatever you should have been paid is still cheaper than the risk you run having anything further to do with them.

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    I'd spread the word in the translator community. – Peter Fox May 6 at 10:53
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    Yes, don't ask for money, as it's proceeds of crime, receiving it would just be more hassle in the future. – Jasen May 7 at 3:05
  • For the reputable bank, I would rather say iban discrimination acceptmyiban.org. – user2284570 May 8 at 13:46
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when I first gave them the IBAN for the bank account they said they were not collaborating with that (admittedly minor) bank and asked me to open an account with another bank from a list (all of them reputable and well known banks.)

IBAN is a universal payment method, and is standard for all companies hiring employees. Different payment methods may apply for contractors.

Now, here is a catch. UK, despite leaving EU, is (very likely still) a member of the SEPA, Single European Payment Area, which by the way includes countries that will never dare joining EU like Switzerland. Money can flow via SEPA-IBANs seamlessly thanks to the inter-banking networks.

As soon as your bank is member of the SEPA, their IBAN is not less worth than major banks.

I don't have an explanation for the employer requesting you to open accounts at another bank to launder money (because we are talking about a scam). Indeed, scammers love to use accounts open on the name of unaware individuals. Well, I might have sorts of possible explanation but I will refrain from speaking on grounds of responsible disclosure.

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  • Pretty common acceptmyiban.org. In the case of France pretty much every employer and state institution requires an established bank in the country with sometimes the requirement of having an account in banks typically refusing peoples earning a wage below a specific limit. Definitely too much widespread so that the only solution is to comply. – user2284570 May 8 at 13:51
  • @user2284570 correct. Not only, as I remembered, an EU directive exists to fight IBAN discrimination (260/2012), but as of 2020 the Europarliament still makes questions about its enforcement – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ May 9 at 22:15
  • Sometimes, even states institution are doing it. You won’t be able to pay taxes or receive state health insurance or unemployment benefit in my country without some specific bank accounts (and there are no proper class actions in the case of companies). That’s the sole reason I don’t take a cheaper bank. – user2284570 May 9 at 23:15
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I recall being involved in a nonprofit organization where someone had used a personal PayPal account to collect conference registration feeds and then forwarded it to the organization; it ended up being a major finding the next time there was an internal audit (which lead to a very tense meeting about the organization's finances).

Point being, it is not normal for companies to allow (far less encourage) commingling funds like that (either by having employees "directly" receive payment like that or having them directly distribute money to coworkers from their personal account without even having it pass through a corporate account at any point) - this creates a serious risk of losing money through embezzlement and a nightmare for the accounting department trying to keep track of where the money is going. Have fun paying taxes or reporting financial results to investors or even knowing what your cash flow is if you operate like that. There are very good reasons that legitimate companies just don't do that.

Also, the claim that they don't "collaborate with" minor banks seems quite strange - I can't imagine why the fact that it's small would make any difference for them if they're paying you by any conventional means.

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It's a classic scam with extra "theater" added on

Their ultimate goal is to either swindle you out of money, or use you as a "money mule" to launder money they have obtained via other means, like hacking other people's bank accounts.

Typically they will ask you to forward money to them through an irreversible means, after they send money to you in a way that can be reversed.

But of course, you would say "no way" if they asked you to do that straight-out!!!

They know that.

So they are creating a bunch of "theater". They are having you do many tasks which are designed to immerse you in the idea that the job is genuine. The purpose is to raise your confidence that this is a "real job". And then, your guard will be down - and when they ask you to the very same above thing, it won't feel like a scam.

It's still a scam.

And they work this scam on many, many people, which is why it was worth it to them to build out all that web infrastructure that makes it seem like a real company.

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  • This is well.stated – Stilez May 8 at 16:37
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While there are good answers, I feel one aspekt is missing: Regularly (at least once in eight weeks, doublecheck your local/bank rules) check your bank account for any irregular withdrawels.

As the setting you described screams "illegal activity", they could try to fake a sepa direct debit mandate to get your money. When you notice anything like that quickly enough you can talk to your bank and receive your money back.

Also, while the advice "just walk away as fast as you can" might suit your needs well, you could try to get the money they owe you (in which case you probably need to continue doing you legit translation work) - if you hit dead ends contact a lawyer (or immediatly).

Also, as a citizen who dislikes crime, you could try to contact the appropriate authorities so this instance of scamming can be stopped, maybe that could help you getting (some) of your money. As the UK is usually considered a state with a working judication, this should be possible.

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  • +1 for checking all activity on your bank account for a good while, just in case.  (But not for trying to get ‘your’ money; as mentioned elsewhere, it may be the proceeds of crime and get you into further trouble — if you ever see any of it, which seems unlikely.  Safest to have no further contact.) – gidds May 7 at 18:50
  • I don't know if it matters in any way where the money came from. If you got a legitimate contract and did legitimate work, it shouldn't matter in any way. But might be a good idea to store all work-related documents so you can proof that you did nothing illegal. - Some people might be able to easily afford "playing it safe", some might really need the money. So I felt like mentioning options, I'm not sure they fit the situation of the asker well but maybe some benefit comes from them. – Jan Bühler May 10 at 7:20

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