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Re: Fake spam freelancers everywhere

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Active Member
Eoghan O Member Since: May 17, 2018
1 of 58

I have been using Upwork, with good results for over a year. However, I recently posted a project looking for some React.js developers. Unfortunately we have been inundated with spam/ fake accounts - something i didn't think happened on Upwork. I had a shortlist of 10 -12 finalised for Skype interviews. After the first 3 I realised that not only did the freelancers not seem to be aware of their own work history or skillsets correctly, as they had described them, but they all had asian accents, despite preporting to be from European countries. I don't care what country someone is from - but i do care about them telling the truth about it.

 

Out of the remaining 8 candidates i asked them all to make sure they have a webcam that they can use for the conversation. Only 2 of them would agree. The rest of them all pulled out of having a quick skype conversation if a webcam had been used. After going back through all the profiles i noticed a similar pattern to the ones that pulled out. None could be found on linked in, All had similarly vague education history, and all of them have started since roughly january '18. They were all European identities, a majority also had a lot of jobs done but all for seemingly random, low amounts - e.g. 10 projects complete but fo $50-$100 dollars each - so that their work history looks good and they have lots of proejcts with 5 stars until you actually examine the projects. They all also had big projects for large amounts - that were all still open. making their accounts look like they have done a lot of work. 

 

My guess is the same guys that are creating fictitious western identies are also creating fictitious client accounts to juice up their stats and numbers to seem legit. I'm sure some of them are good coders - but are you really going to trust someone to work on your code who is telling you they are a completely different person from a totally different country?

 

This has been an incredibly frustrating process and wasted 3-4 days of time between organising and tyring to interview these candidates. I really hope Upwork will take note of this and try to improve this spam or it will become an unusable platform.

 

I'd advise all clients to throw the question out there next time they are hiring - can the freelancer have a skype/ upwork conversation using a  webcam. I think you will be surprised by how many candidates will drop out at this suggestion.

 

These fake accounts do no favours for real freelancers as i've been left totally paranoid now about who it is I am hiring on the service.

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Community Guru
Prashant P Member Since: Sep 29, 2015
2 of 58

Good suggestions.  I suggested a phone call.  They are cheap.  @Rene had mentioned had the same idea using webcam and conducting the interview at 3:00 AM Asian time and asked the applicant to show outside of window.

 

Well Upwork is to certain extent unregulated land.  Buyers and Providers have to be be careful of one another.

 

Next time, put this in your job post that an interview with webcam will be required.  It will filter out most scammers.

 

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Community Guru
Nina K Member Since: Nov 29, 2017
3 of 58

Hi Eoghan,

I definitely understand your frustration and where you're coming from. Upwork is a huge plaform with over 17 million registered users and despite the great deal of tools we have in place to detect and action users with fraudulant profiles, they do still occasionally occur.

While we do also have verification processes for new and established profiles, unfortunately at times even when we take action on an account, the individuals involved may open a new account to circumvent our efforts.  We will certainly continue to use our best efforts to keep our marketplace safe and we'd appreciate if you flagged any profiles that appear to be suspicious, so that our marketplace quality team can review them and take appropriate actions. Thank you.

~Nina
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John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
4 of 58

@Nina K wrote:

 

While we do also have verification processes for new and established profiles... We will certainly continue to use our best efforts to keep our marketplace safe


Nina, why doesn't Upwork state in a freelancer profile if the profile is video verified? Mine only shows verified phone number, even though I also passed video verification. I realize not all profiles have been verified by video, but a significant number have, and a non-verified freelancer could still volunteer for a skype call with a potential client.

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"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
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Community Guru
Ryan C Member Since: Feb 3, 2017
5 of 58

Hello John,

 

Thanks for your question. Our goal is to eventually have all profiles verified. So there will be no need for a badge since everyone would have it. Thank you!


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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 58

Ryan gave a great explanation for why Upwork isn't offering badges for freelancers who have had their identify verified by a video interview.

 

Another reason I think the badge might be a bad idea is this:

The video verification only verifies that the identity associated with the freelancer account matches a real person who the video interview is conducted with. I think that's a great step forward and a serious way to cut down on fraudulent freelancers.

 

But the badge might convey undue significance to clients.

 

The people who have NOT yet undergone an interview didn't choose to NOT do it. They simply haven't been asked yet.

 

And a badge can't guarantee that the person a client works with is actually the person whose name and face is on the account. There are indeed shady, duplicitious freelancers who would get a video identification done and then let the account be used by other people.

 

So Upwork, as much as it does to be proactive about this, really can't GUARANTEE anything. If you want to be sure, as a client, you may indeed need to conduct a video/Skype chat of your own.

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Community Guru
Samantha S Member Since: Jun 23, 2016
7 of 58

Yes, and the verification would need to happen periodically. I don't normally frequent the shady areas of the internet, but I have seen people advertise that they are selling video verified accounts in various freelancer groups. I am amazed how overt they are about it.  Just like the people who advertise services where they "hire" someone through Upwork and leave 5/5 reviews.

 

I agree it is a good step, but it isn't a complete solution especially since it isn't practical to verify every one.  I think it is wiser for clients to do their own video chats and this also helps the client see whether the language skills are as advertised (if that is important to the client or the project).

 


@Preston H wrote:

 

Another reason I think the badge might be a bad idea is this:

The video verification only verifies that the identity associated with the freelancer account matches a real person who the video interview is conducted with. I think that's a great step forward and a serious way to cut down on fraudulent freelancers.

  

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Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
8 of 58

Upwork is hiring its safety team on Upwork.  Currently, they have an open job: "You will play a key role in identifying compromised accounts, securing compromised users, deactivating phishing websites, (...)".

 

Which is absolutely great. Then:

 

Entry Level
I am looking for freelancers with the lowest rates

 

I say: clients should rely on their own skills to spot fraudsters. There is not much that Upwork can do, they don't have the money.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
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Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
9 of 58

@Rene K wrote:

Upwork is hiring its safety team on Upwork.  Currently, they have an open job: "You will play a key role in identifying compromised accounts, securing compromised users, deactivating phishing websites, (...)".

 

Which is absolutely great. Then:

 

Entry Level
I am looking for freelancers with the lowest rates

 

I say: clients should rely on their own skills to spot fraudsters. There is not much that Upwork can do, they don't have the money.


Seriously?

 

Upwork, if you're reading this, hire up, and then hire specialized people for each category who know how to spot frauds in those categories, as I have done with so-called graphic designers who do nothing but fill their portfolios with stolen work and downloaded free images so easy to find online. Clients hire them, and then wonder at the disconnect between what their samples looked like, and what they delivered.

 

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Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
10 of 58

@Ryan C wrote:

Hello John,

 

thanks for your question. Our goal is to eventually have all profiles verified. So there will be no need for a badge since everyone would have it. Thank you!


I wish Upwork would stop saying all profiles will be verified. That can only happen if a moratorium on new profiles is put in place. It is otherwise an impossibility.

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