Relatieplanet International – Freelance Proofreading Scam?

About a month ago (May 8 to be exact), I applied for a position as a proofreader for Relatieplanet International.  This was the job ad that caught my attention:

Job Ad

Of course, I researched the company.  No one had anything negative to say about them.  Everything seemed legit.

After sending my resume and three references, I was hired.   I had to sign a contract stating that I would put forth the amount of effort required to complete the tasks and that I would receive payment after 21 days of work.  I was getting paid $5 per edited kb, which was around $20 an hour for me.  Of course, that was a red flag.  How could they pay me so much?

But, I am still relatively new to the freelancing world.  And, so, I took the job, telling myself that if it was a scam, at least I would have some edited documents to add to my portfolio.  It wouldn’t be a total waste.  Besides, I hadn’t shared any bank information with them (and I never share my main account information, for the record).

At first, I was enthralled with the company.  They sent semi-steady work (a few projects each week) and they were always complimentary.  My job was to proofread letters between non-native English speakers who met on a European dating site called Relatieplanet International. 1

Then, my payday came.  By then, I had grown wary.  A few of the letters had the exact same lines in them.  They also seemed to have the same content, just worded differently.  I began asking myself questions.  How could this company afford to pay me so much?  Why would the company even care to edit their clients’ letters?  (Most of them, in my opinion, were understandable without my help.)  So, I set up a separate bank account (a savings account) so that they would not have access to my main account.   I used that account when they asked for the information for the wire transfer.  After a few days, I still had not received payment for the first month.

So, I started researching more about the company.  Then, I stumbled upon a post on Scribe for Hire.  She included a letter that she had had to edit and, to my surprise, it was exactly the same as one of the letters that I had edited only a few days ago.  Her post, though, was from the fall of 2013.  She had a few other letters posted as well.  I’d edited each of those, too.  The weird thing is that she had been proofreading for a company called E-Dates, but the letters were identical.  Word-per-word identical.  I was not the only one to notice this.  Others commented that they had reviewed those exact letters as well while working for Relatieplanet.

After finding that site, I kept digging and found a Ripoff Report confirming my suspicion that Relatieplanet International’s proofreading position may be a scam.

Luckily no one has had any monetary losses (that I have seen) from Relatieplanet.  There are rumors that the company is laundering money, but I’m not sure if that is true.

Someone also claimed that E-Dates had sent them a large amount of money, then asked the recipient to send the difference back to them, claiming that they had made a mistake.  When the recipient sent the difference back, she realized that the initial payment had been a bogus check.  So, not only did she not receive payment, but she had sent her own money to the company.

I’m posting this to raise awareness, but also to invite others to comment about their dealings with Relatieplanet or E-Dates.  Have you been hired?  Were you paid?  What was your experience like?

Right now, all we know is that they are sending the same letters to their “employees.”  My biggest concern is that they don’t seem to be taking money (other than in that one instance), so I’m wondering what their interests are.  Is their game just to waste people’s time?  Though I highly doubt that, I can’t see that they are doing much more than that.  So, please, let me know if you have any experience with them or even with E-Dates.

 

1 I do not believe that the real Relatieplanet International is in any way associated with this possible proofreading scam.  The hiring managers seem to be impersonating the real company.

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18 thoughts on “Relatieplanet International – Freelance Proofreading Scam?”

  1. Hi Jessie, I got caught up in it from this ad on Craigslist for Ottawa, Canada: http://ottawa.en.craigslist.ca/wri/4424444932.html

    “Part-time Proofreaders Needed
    compensation: Payment under the contract
    contract job part-time

    Team Relatieplanet International is currently looking for part-time proofreaders to correct the English in our communications.

    Job Description:
    The Relatieplanet team will provide you with an excellent opportunity to make good money in a short amount of time. We will provide you with text containing important
    information for our employees. Your job will be to correct the English and send the text back to us.

    Requirements:
    -Location: CA
    -Excellent command of the English language.
    -Computer, e-mail, telephone and Microsoft Word.

    To apply for a job, please email us.

    Our team will contact you; do not forget to include your phone number.

    Sincerely,

    Relatieplanet International.”

    When they started asking me for even more info and info about my bank account, I just stopped there and googled more info. There was the recent ripoff report link you found

    I am trying to get some feedback from the real company about the ad. I guess they speak Dutch so no response yet. I’d like to get confirmation from them so I can follow up with some more action. Were you or anyone else able to get some feedback from the the real company? They have an email and phone number at http://www.relatieplanet.nl

    Thanks for your post. I really appreciate it.

    Alan

    1. Alan, thanks for the feedback. So far, I have not heard of anyone hearing back from Relatieplanet International. I know at least one person has emailed them with no results. Thank you for sharing their contact information with me. Please let me know if you hear back or learn anything else. There’s a conversation on Scribe for Hire here: http://archivesandends.blogspot.com/2014/05/further-information-re-e-dates.html#comment-form about the issue. Reading their comments might give you a better idea of what is happening. I tried to synthesize as much as I could in my post, but you might still be interested in hearing from more people. 🙂 Please let me know if they respond or if you learn anything new. I will try to get in touch with them as well.

  2. Hi Jessie. I went through the exact same experience. The same ad caught my attention and I started working for them in early second week May. I signed the same NDA and sent 3 references. Shocking, I also proofread the same letter (among many others) that has been posted on the archivesandends post you have linked to.
    Undoubtedly this is a scam. I did find it too good to be true and was wary of the company. But since I wasn’t really putting in too many hours, I decided to see how it went.
    I’ve been kicking myself for my oversight. The email address they used was relatieplanet@web.de, not xyz@relatieplanet.nl, as it should have been had it been from the legit company. The emails were also signed off as ‘The Relatieplanet Team’. No individual name was provided.
    What has me worried is that they have my bank account details. Any suggestions?

    1. Don’t kick yourself too hard, because SO many people have fallen for this, and I overlooked the email as well. In fact, I didn’t even realize until you pointed it out! Since they have your account information, I would call the bank immediately and let them know what is going on. Some banks can block transactions if they know who to block. (Here, though, it would be hard to know who to tell them to block. Depending on the bank, though, they might set up a notification process where you have to approve all transactions for a set period of time.) Luckily, I have not heard of anyone losing money from their accounts, but I would still be cautious. I think, in your situation, the best bet would be to contact your bank and explain exactly what is going on. Please keep us updated, and know that you are NOT alone in this by any means!

  3. Thanks for the feedback, and I’m happy more people are writing about this. We need to spread the word!

    I’m surprised that you received a check. I haven’t heard of many people getting anything at all. Would you let us know if you have any more experience with them or if you hear anything back from those you spoke with? I will try to keep tabs on your blog for more updates as well.

  4. Thanks Jessie and everyone else for the support. I visited my bank today. Deactivated internet banking completely. They say nothing to worry about now. I feel much better.

  5. I was wondering what their end game might be. What on earth did they hope to achieve by doing all this. One thing I could think of was, with the bank account details, they could send a very real looking phishing email, ‘supposedly’ from the bank, get you to click on a link that takes you to a page that looks exactly like the bank page, and get you to login. Everyone please always type out your bank address and never click through to it from anywhere.

    1. I’m glad you were able to protect yourself, and thanks for the tip. I had not considered that this could be their intention. I am very prone to just follow the links in my emails, but I will be much more careful about doing this in the future. Thanks, Sarika!

  6. They got me, too. What a bunch of scumbags. I’m just glad I never gave them enough personal information to really screw me over. Live and learn, I guess.

    1. Ugh! I’m sorry to see they were able to get yet another person. Trust me, you are not alone. I’ve talked to several who were “hired” by them as well. I’m glad you didn’t give them much personal information. Smart! 🙂

  7. My bank told me that the scammers will use your info to open fraudulent accounts in your name. They said to contact all 3 credit bureaus to let them know that your info may be compromised.

  8. Don’t know if this does any good at all — but I just reported the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (as suggested by Craigslist in their “avoid scams and fraud” section. I think I’ll report it to any other place I find that takes these complaints. The more that we put out on the Web about the scam, the better.

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