Though I have had a really good experience on UpWork so far. It is unfortunate that I recently experienced a case of fraud with a freelancer on UpWork named **edited for Community Guidelines**. I entered into an hourly contract with him to comlete data searches for me in July and August ( 2 separate contracts for a total of $142.50. Both payments were made once I approved it. We have not had any interaction since then, other than him asking me for more work and me responding that I do not have any work for him.
After reviewing my invoices to reconcile payments made to all freelancers on UpWork, I found that he had fraudlently submitted work hours in December ($75), January (3X75) and February ($75). It was then that I realized that though I had No Jobs open, I had not ended his contract. Based on the escrow agreement written by UpWork, my understanding was that I had to approve all invoices. In this case, I was simply charged fraudlently.
I messaged **edited for Community Guidelines** demanding that he repay me and he did not deny what he did, he says he will work for free to make up the hours. When I said no, he said he will speak to UpWork. I have reported him to UpWork and I have demanded that they remove him because no other client should have to deal with his fraudulent actions.
I am waiting to see what UpWork does in this situation because the question still remains.
1. How were these transactions processed without my approval or release of payment
2. How does UpWork handle cases of fraud
3. How concered is UpWork with protecting its clients from fraudulent freelancers
I will post UpWorks response to this situation. I hope that this post will be helpful to other clients.
I'm sorry to learn about your experience with this freelancer. I checked your account and can see that the contract you had with the freelancer was an hourly contract. On Hourly contracts, clients have the opportunity to review, and/or dispute any hours that are not related to the contract, or does not meet the agreed-upon work of your contract/project. The review period happens after every work week where the client has five days to review, and dispute unrelated/questionable hours logged on the Work Diary. If no hours were disputed during the review period, the payment goes through a five-day security period before it is paid to the freelancer's account. You may read more about it here, and more details about Upwork's Payment Protection here.
I can see that you are already being assisted through a ticket, and I would recommend that you continue working with the team handling your case so that you can be assisted further. Feel free to update the same ticket thread if you have further questions or concern about your account issue.
The hours were submitted without my knowledge or approval. I have not had any contact with this freelancer since August. As you wrote below, <On Hourly contracts, clients have the opportunity to review, and/or dispute any hours that are not related to the contract, or does not meet the agreed-upon work of your contract/project.> I was not given this opportunity before the hours were charged to my account.
This is a clear case of fraud and theft and I have noticed a few reports of this from clients on this page. UpWork should provide better safeguards to ensure that is does not happen, especially based on the fact that he was able to be paid without me being notified of the hours that he submitted.
There is no escrow associated with hourly contracts.
It sounds like the original poster may have been conflating aspects of the "fixed-price" and "hourly" contract models together.
We are only hearing one side of this story...
But it sounds like the original poster was dealing with a very dishonorable freelancer.
Fortunately the amount of money in question is relatively small. The amount of money in question does NOT make it okay for ANY freelancer to be dishonest. No matter how much money (a small amount or large amount) Upwork freelances MUST act honestly and honorably in their dealings with clients.
For the original poster, especially considering the modest amount of money involved, recovering any money from this freelancer is less important than figuring out what her mistakes were and learning how to avoid making those same mistakes again in the future.
If the client thought that she had no open jobs, and then the freelancer logged time on the contract, and then the client realized that she had left a job open... This DOES NOT make it okay for the freelancer to log time fraudulently. BUT: fortunately for the client, this is an easy mistake to correct in the future. She learned to check her open jobs list more carefully when a project is over, and make sure that she doesn't leave contracts open when she doesn't need any more work done with a freelancer.
Personally, when I hire freelancers, I close the contract within a minute after concluding work with them. This is good for me, because it means I completely block any more time from being logged, making sure I don't pay any more money. And it is also good for the freelancer, because they get feedback quickly and don't need to worry about having a dormant contract.