I just want to add here that having skype video/audio calls for the interview is a common practice by many clients but if you are asking freelancers for photographs or id proofs, then you will not attract the best people here.
Also if you check the freelancers section then you will notice that a lot of accounts are being suspended,banned and reviewed regularly and sometimes unfairly. This in no way means that just because one client is unhappy with a freelancer who has a good work history on odesk for years with other clients should be permanently removed. Best odesk will do is refund your money if you are unsatisfied and it is only fair. Odesk removes a freelancer only if there are more than a few complaints against him.
Considering that you are already following such strict monitoring practices and are still getting continuous bad results then I would suggest that may be your expectations from odesk are a bit unrealistic and should consider advice from other clients here. Just because many clients are happy with some freelancer here does not mean that the same freelancer will click with you. May be you have different expectations and work ethics than those other clients.
I have spent over $30k and billed 1811 hours. That comes out to $16.56 per hour which I think is quite good. Also, for the contractor that was fraudulent, I paid him $27.78 hourly. The claims that I am attracting the wrong type of workers because I am paying too low is false. It's quite the opposite. The frauds are going after the higher paying jobs.
Once I instituted the skype video conference, audio call or photo identification I have not had a problem. My post was to help other clients in screening out these frauds since apparently we cannot rely on Odesk to do so.
Thomas, you might want to review your own interview process. A proper, well conducted interview can detect most of the things you mentioned. oDesk will never be perfect at doing the screening for you, it's also not what they're in business for, and the system you look for can't be maintained at a measly 10% oDesk fee. Also, your energy and approach (calling freelancers suckers and fraudsters) will draw those freelancers to you that you do not want to hire, since professional freelancers typically don't have to work in such an environment. I do agree that oDesk is not exactly great when it comes to reviewing flagged freelancers (or clients), but that's because their internal processes are broken, and not because they want to encourage fraud. Just go over to the freelancer section of the forum and click into some random posts and count the people who complain about being under review or having had their accounts suspended.
I don't think you should have to deal with fraudsters at any pay rate, but the chance of running into low quality freelancers is significantly higher when you pay peanuts. Instead of letting your freelancers jump through hoops and make ridiculous requests, why not invest 15-20 mins in a high quality interview. If you want to check their language skills, you can do it in a Skype interview; if you want to make sure they're from a certain location, let them tell you about their city and favorite places. It's near impossible to fake all of this in an interview. It's good to be cautious, but if you start your work relationship in utter distrust, you just can't ever expect a decent outcome.
As mentioned in my previous reply I have historically paid $16.56 per hour. The time I had the bad contractor I was paying him $27.78 per hour. People on this thread seem to want to blame me for paying too low when that is not the case. Why would frauds other with cheap jobs?
Also, I am not calling all freelancers frauds. I have spent $30k so far and have been well satisfied with the results. But I felt that I should warn other people to enhance their screening. If everyone did it, the frauds would be less motivated. It's only because they are successful that they continue.
And I agree with your comment about the Skype interview. That is exactly what I am suggesting. The fact that I like to incorporate video should not be a problem. When I hire someone in person I see them also. There's no reason a freelancer should find it unprofessional.
BTW, the measly 10% you mention adds up to quite a lot of money.
With $900 million in 2014 billings they are earning $90 million in a single year. That's enough to do things right.
"There's no reason a freelancer should find it unprofessional."
Incorrect. A good reason is that some of the fraudsters on oDesk are clients, and they'll use the imbalance of power the same way any bad employer might try to do. I saw a super creepy ad the other day that looked a lot like a perv trying to cam pretty women. That's the neighborhood you're living in.
There is a lot that is different on oDesk from in person interviews. If you fail to see that, you're part of the problem. It is not acceptable to use video to screen candidates. It is acceptable to have video chats with someone you have hired if it is clear it'll help the work discussion.
Everything else that falls under the banner of fraud or incompetence can be detected by more reliable means than making sure the profile picture matches the person you're interviewing. After all, one of the most common frauds I see is having an "expert" (A team) interview and land the job, but then farm out the actual work to a rookie (B team, if you're lucky).
I disagree with this. Many companies today hire people using video interviews because logistics demands it. Also there are websites doing asynchronous interviews. It's perfectly accceptable. Yes there are some pervs. But they can be reported to Odesk and theoretically Odesk will do something about it. Or maybe you agree Odesk doesn't police it's clientele well. You spotted that questionable ad just by reading the description. Can't other people do the same?
But the real point is if Odesk did a better job of verifying people identities and locations, I wouldn't have to do any of this. If you think I want to spend all this extra time screening candidates you're wrong. I used to happily read reviews and hire people with a click of the button. Until I became aware of the deficiencies in Odesk's policies. They can easily do more to verify information in freelancer profiles.
"You spotted that questionable ad just by reading the description. Can't other people do the same?"
That one example was simply an extremely obvious one. There are plenty that are less about sexual harrassment and more about racism or whatever other prejudices can be exercised via video. It's not always so easy to determine intentions until after the abuse has begun.
Look, it's really simple: if the job doesn't involve you looking at me all day, you're being weird if the first thing you want to do is look at me. Nevermind the ironic fact that you seem unwilling to post even a profile photo of yourself. If your hiring process is unable to deal with the realities of online workers, perhaps oDesk isn't right for you.
"They can easily do more to verify information in freelancer profiles."
And clients, too. But probably not for 10%. If you want them to do more for you, perhaps you should offer to pay them more to do it.