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fd627b83
Community Member

Anyone else dealing with extortion scams?

The last 4 freelancers I hired have all turned out to use fraudulent identities. It's become very routine that 2-3 months after hiring a developer, that I get an email from upwork saying "during rotuine investigation" they have found violations of the terms of service and have terminated the freelancer.

 

The last freelancer became problematic after upwork terminated their account and demanded payment for work that they had not completed. They were saying how they need to feed their family, and "you are a public person", etc etc.

 

Fortunately we never gave them access to anything sensitive, but it could have been much worse. I'm curious how often others deal with their freelancers turning out to be someone else? 

17 REPLIES 17
spectralua
Community Member

An year ago Upwork opened doors, welcomed unskilled FLs, bots and scammers and removed any tests. Of course many fakes was created when noone care about. 

I never hiring but i can tell you freelancer's POV: almost all clients gone. Now in my feed an 60% fakes, 30% scammers, 10% lowballers who wanted free works. Of course all skilled freelancers gone because no more job here. Thats why you faced with cheaters.

Definitely a shame, and that makes total sense. I was able to do some of my own investigation, and did find that the "middleman" had about a hundred upwork profiles.

The responses I get from job posts seem to be all AI variations of the same reply. The *really* unfortunate thing is they are now acting as more of a gang than a company subcontracting the work.

They seem to have truly run the good freelancers off the site.

melroen
Community Member

It's truly disheartening to read of such an experience happening from a client's perspective.

 

Upwork may not read the whole message thread. However, there's a feature in messages where you can quote this threatening message as proof.

 

Then flag it for Upwork with an accompanying explanation of attempted extortion.

It's bad enough what has happened to the freelancers, but your story is not an isolated one. If the freelancers are being scammed, and the clients are being scammed...

philippebrown
Community Member

Yep. An IT guy we retained to do specific IT tasks ended up trying to upsell us on his monthly paid service.

 

When he got honest feedback he threatened us in writing implying that he'd attack our systems. Then he spammed our company's staff.  This was reported to Upwork who did nothing - sorry no, actually they did something.

 

They removed the negative feedback from his account and allowed the freelancer to change his feedback to us to comment on things that had absolutely nothing to do with the job we paid him to do. 

 

Upwork's review and rating system is a scam.  

So Upwork DOES allow (force?) freelancers and clients to change their feedback for one another. It would be interesting to know the full story here.

I have no idea Will, but the process did not inspire confidence in Upwork or its Freelancers. 

 

I'm just puzzled. Maybe I shouldn't assume that UW read the exchange of messages. 

 

But if they did I'd, and they saw the sequence of events and threat, then surely they'd think of banning him. I mean an IT guy that threatens to attack their client's systems??

 

Come on! And what's the worst that will happen? He'll just open another account...

8d1359cb
Community Member

I've been wondering why some clients and freelancers shy away from setting up video chats for interviews. When you're bringing someone on board for a project, a quick video call feels like a great way to get to know each other. I've noticed that, even with my legit clients, there's a bit of hesitation when I suggest a video call. Maybe it's just the changing times โ€“ scams seem more common now, and about 6 out of 10 job listings look a bit sketchy. Let's make video calls a norm; they're not just for catching up with friends, but for building trust in our professional partnerships too!

I have never agreed to an upwork contract without at least one video call beforehand.

 

If a client doesn't communicate well before work begins they will not improve once a contract is in place.

 

Freelance defensively!

If you need different opinions, I'll tell you.

I speak English poorly: it is difficult for me to understand the client and he will not be happy with my pronunciation.

I don't feel comfortable in front of the camera. I'm a technician, not a stand-up comedian.

Therefore, I avoid video and audio calls as well.

You're not alone in being in that position.

 

Very few people are comfortable being in front of the camera, well until they start putting themselves in front of the camera... 

 

As time goes by and A.I starts solving more problems previously solved by humans you might find that video actually helps you with sales. Sales is, after all, a very personal and human business.  

 

And if spoken communication is not critical for the work you're going to do then I'm sure your prospective client will factor that in. 

 

Given the choice between two identically skilled people who would you prefer to hire? Someone you'd had a face to face conversation with or someone you hadn't?

Of course I understand that this is harmful to business.

But in all my work here I only lost a couple of clients for whom this was important. I rely on my qualifications and many years of experience confirmed by reviews. I am hired, solve the problem quickly as possible and I get paid. Some clients find the lack of lengthy negotiations an advantage since they do not need to be distracted from their main tasks.

Also, to work for two hours, I donโ€™t see the need to communicate for an hour. My work mainly involves emergency intervention and the shortest possible completion time. For example, when your server is broken, your business stops. I am hired quickly and within a short time the business is back online.

In your start post long-term relationships with developers. This is another specificity. Before a year of work itโ€™s normal to spend 2 hours getting to know each other.

Valid point for your skillset where a problem needs to be fixed urgently to get back up and running.

 

There's no one-size-fits-all for every niche or project.

 

I mainly work on longer-term contracts. Always hourly-- never fixed-priced.

 

Like Will L, I also insisted on a Zoom call mainly for trust and transparency.

 

Until I had two legitimate clients (30k spent on Upwork and solid reviews) use the direct contact feature claiming to offer a contract but were on a brain-picking mission instead.

 

Live and learn. Vent a bit. Then adapt.

 

After that, I implemented an hourly paid project consultation policy with clients as a first step where I review their project source material, then give actionable, written commentary followed by a Zoom consult.

 

All time spent, whether reviewing, writing commentary, or on a Zoom call is billed hourly at my hourly rate ( no discounts.)

 

Propose this first step as a test to see if we're a good collaborative fit before committing to the longer-term project.

 

Some decline immediately when they understand there's no free project consultation or try to negotiate my rate downward. That's when I decline their project. 

 

Since then, I've had three good projects from my new policy. In these instances, my paid written review of their project resulted in the contract being extended.

 

Zoom meetings are an important tool to vet a client or a freelancer. However, a freelancer needs to be able to quickly identify the client's intentions so as not to waste time with tire kickers or deceptive clients trying to get needed information or a solution for free. 

 

Clients need to vet freelancers closely to not fall victim to a scammer.

 

As we all know, we're swimming in shark-infested waters here. Enter the water at your own risk.

This is interesting perspective. I am quite shy but I'll try to add to my profile that I am willing to do calls.

williamtcooper
Community Member

Elliott,

 

Sorry to hear about the issues.

 

Work with freelancers that have a long history, lots of reviews, and revenues on Upwork and avoid the problems in the future.

f1d856c6
Community Member

I only joined upwork and thought i could trust the freelancers, since the platform is supposed to be reputable and legit, i already got scammed twice in about a week.

Look for expirience. Freelancer registered long time and have many feedbacks in most of cases will be legit.

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