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Strange experiences about certain .docx files


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Has this ever happened to you? So, I'm a translator here on Fiverr. Recently, this one buyer began working with me, sending me 13 .docx files over the course of a week or so. They were simple translation projects for his youtube channel that he's trying to get off the ground. Strange things have happened twice now. The first time was when he sent the 4th file. It wasn't a docx but a .pages. Fiverr scanner didn't detect anything unusual. VirusTotal even said it was fine. But it was weird that he would send that .pages when .docx would be perfectly fine. I told him to send a docx instead, which he did.

Now, we're on file 13th, which he sent two files with the same name for some reason. The first is about 5 kB, and the second one is about 3 kB. The first one was fine. But the second one got that "This message contains attachments that cannot be scanned...." Now why would he send two files? What's even weirder is that after I refreshed the page, the message was gone, as if that was an error on Fiverr's part?

Not long before that, another freelancer based in Bangladesh with good reviews (5 stars, level 2) contacted me with the UNICEF scam. I knew immediately because I dealt with it before. That made me think that either he was hacked or we just can't trust anyone these days, and that client was just biding their time to win my trust.

But why would a scammer spent a hundred bucks to fatten someone up for the slaughter when they can't even be sure if they will fall into the trap? Nothing makes any sense.

After that, another client based in Thailand sent me two 50 and 80 kB docx files. Same message appeared. He said they were shared from his dropbox, and it was probably because he sent them from his phone. He tried a few more times. In the last few times, he sent PDF instead. All of them had that same warning message. But after a while, the message disappeared lol. Even the message for the last batch of docx files disappeared. I downloaded them, scanned with my antivirus and VirusTotal, and lo and behold, they were fine! What is this world coming to?

Is there a bug in the Fiverr system or something?

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Pages (if you don't already know) is Apple's own proprietary word doc format. They're mildly annoying if you're not on Mac, as you can't open them on a Windows device. I have a bookmark to CloudConvert for this very reason. 🙂

DOCX files are suppose to be a more open and 'accessible' word doc format, as it uses OpenXML to store all the info, but in my experience that leads to all sorts of weird behavior on the receiving end. I've been sent DOCX files that open fine, some that open blank, some that open in what looks like alien formatting, etc. The upside to them is that they're usually easy to edit as is, unlike a lot of PDFs.

It could just be that Fiverr's scanning tool takes its sweet time combing through the doc, so if you're worried about safety, maybe just give it a bit of time before opening.

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.pages are legitimate documents, made with Apple Pages. I have the opposite issue (I'm on a Mac and use Pages, and while it can open word documents, they can be improperly formatted), so what I do (and request from my clients) is to always use .pdf for documents, as that's the proper way to exchange them and be system and application agnostic.

The reason why there was a 3kb file included as well probably has to do with you seeing it under a different OS (I'm assuming you're on windows). There are files that are invisible in windows, and on Mac OS (they store information like icons, viewing preferences for the folder, etc.), and when you transfer a folder to the other OS they become visible. They are not harmful in any way, and can be deleted. 

Edited by visualstudios
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