Dear potential clients, we have sadly been the victim of suspected fraud after hiring the freelancer
**Edited for Community Guidelines**.
We are now subsequently involved in reviewing all dialogue with our lawyers as the freelancer not only failed to deliver any of the requirements clearly set out in the project, but after emptying the account for funds by "logging hours" he then closed the project stating it was "complete" and subsequently, blocked us on Skype and refused to respond to any correspondence on UpWork.
We have in addition to seeking legal advice to pursue the matter through the appropriate legal channels for fraud, informed UpWork of this indivdiual and wished to also issue a warning to future potential clients here in the community to not engage or enlist the services of this freeelancer.
On initial investigation into his supposed CV, which motivated us to enlist his service, the first 3 references have never heard nor have knowledge of him.
Please beware and be thorough before employing any freelancer to avoid as in this case the potential need for legal action to reverse and have returned any funds gained through fraudulent means.
I don't think this
**Edited for Community Guidelines** guy even exists.
Anyway, is it me or people are asking for a lot of proof that you are capable of doing a certain task? I don't have any references and I'd feel horrible to ask for such things and yet I'm a quite decent developer.
Wow, $39 per hour without checking these so-called references. Are you guys looking for a PHP developer by any chance?
The point Gabriel is that there was no initial hourly rate we agreed on a fixed price project.
"Mateo" then through daily discussions convinced us that hourly rate rather than fixed price would help him establish his company so that he could get higher paid jobs in the future.
We did not simply agree to allow unlimited budget based on hours and naturally not naive enough to accept a rate of $39 per hour without limit so we agreed a total project cap at $3000. So if "Mateo" had wanted $50 per hour he would still only be paid a maximum of $3000. So the hourly rate was never an issue.
However, as he informed and as I also understand the payment from UpWork goes to the freelancer 2 weeks after the funds are withdrawn from the client. So the argument to accommodate a freelancer to allow them to "log" hours prior to deliveries is very strong. I would not expect a freelancer to work 2 months and only get paid on completion and then have to wait 2 more additional weeks to actually receive funds.
He "logged" hours and the argument that he was infact using many more hours than were being logged allowed the project to continue until he clearly emptied the remaining funds and immediately closed the project at the same time siting "completed" as the reason.
"He" appeared truly genuine and was truly sincere throughout all correspondence and we had been in daily discussion almost for a number of weeks so he seemed the real deal.
His references were very precise and very credible. So from the outset he appeared to match his UpWork rating of a "Rising Start".
Naturally with all these mechanisms in place we must therefore trust in the service of UpWork and the genuiness of its freelancers.
In response to your comments about people asking for alot of proof for a certain task. I think experiences such as this are clearly showing that there are professional thieves using this service and manipulate clearly both the system and the customer.
re: "Wow, $39 per hour without checking these so-called references."
Checking references is unnecessary.
A project manager checks the work submitted by all of the developers. The contracts are closed on anybody whose work doesn't meet expectations. The project continues only with the best developers.
Thieves only come as professionals since the amateurs easily get caught.
Hey, Preston. Nice to see you alive and kicking. Yeah, it's weird when paying over X amount of dollars per hour not to check every 10 minute interval. Hell, I'd be in the same room with the guy, sweating at his every keystroke.
When I first started my gig, the first 3 weeks I was the one sweating like a pig before Christmas (in Romania it's used to butcher a lot of them just before Christmas Eve) just to see the first payment go through.
Anyway, I like you. You guys seem to be nice, understanding people and it's a big shame it came to this. Alas, Upwork seems to have its share of frauds. Both contractors and clients must be vigilent during the first 2 weeks of collaboration. But, then again, I think I'm starting to spew trivialities at this point.
I'm sorry about the OP's experience with an obvious trickster. However, Upwork's terms of service and use, are not exclusive to freelancers. It always helps to know exactly how Upwork's payment system works before hiring and not to rely entirely on a freelancer's say-so.
Perhaps we have been naive, but I didn't and honestly don't think it is the responsibility of the client to have to check what the freelancer is doing every 10 minutes. Actually for me that would negate the whole purpose of the service as in it facilitates the client and freelancer who have both achieved some form of trust.
I.e from the client's perspective we have to provide payment detials and these can be accessed and ebited immediately.
Conversely, just as you have to trust the client is going to pay for the service, from our perspective, so does the client have to trust that the freelancer is going to deliver for the service.
As I mentioned, it would not matter if "Mateo" asked for $50 per hour because the project had a total cap of $3000.
So if he had "logged" 200 hours at $15 per hour over a 6 week period as he can just say he is working full time. Or if he logs 60 hours at $50 per hour and says he is working full time but looks more effective on paper and is grateful if we agree to quoting a higher hourly rate to enable him to justify a higher rate for future projects I saw only that we were helping him. For me the achievement / result as in use of $3000 budget would be the same in the end regardless.
When the freelancer also lists "Money Back Guarantee" on his profile then I think at somepoint we cannot check on him every 10 minutes and we have to agree to a level of mutual trust. I must be honest Gabriel, I don't quite understand how this is weird? To me it seems only natural expectation of trust between a client and a freelancer?
If anything here I think we've been guilty of acting more for the benefit of the freelancer because of our understanding of how freelancers like and often prefer to work and ultiamtely the most important thing for us was to allow him to work the way he said he preferred to work to allow us to acheve a better quality product.
Sadly, that has not been the case and we have clearly been the victim of fraud.
I do appreciate your comments and certainly take them in and hope I ahve not painted the picture of a "naive client". I would like to think that we are far from that having used services such as freelancer.com for many years but decided to try UpWork. And of course if a freelancer informs you that the code cannot yet be compiled or there is still nothing "functional" to show etc whether it be 2 days or 2 weeks into the process we had to trust in the freelancer's response believing him to be working on back-end, establishing wireframe functionality etc.
Hope I do not sound hard in response Gabriel, just truly saddened by this whole experience and not only the loss of monies but of the great amount of time and energies spent on this individual.
You don't check a freelancer's work every ten minutes.
The project manager you hired checks each freelancer's work very carefully at the beginning to,make sure they are legitimate. Then less frequently as you come to trust freelancers and know the kind of work they deliver. But at least weekly.
And you don't hire only one person for a project of this size. You hire many for a short duration, and continue working with the best.
Also, if a contractor says he wants you to hire him in a certain way, but that is not really how he'll be working, then he is probably a scammer, not a real freelancer.
A real freelancer doesn't do that.
And a real freelancer doesn't expect you to set up contracts in a deceptive way in order to help him get hired more in the future. What does his future hiring have to do with you?
A professional contractor deals with you and your project and isn't asking you to help,him with his profile.
His future hiring has and had nothing to do with us at all Preston on this you are quite correct. However, as I say after many hours of talks and discussions "Mateo" came across as completely genuine. Informing us of his ambition to have enough work for him and his 2 friends so they could start a small enterprise etc.
I have full understanding of how difficult it is to start up and also improve your hourly rate without a long and proven track record and of course was willing to oblige as it appeared at no cost to the project or agreed budget itself.
In respect to help with profiles, one of the very reasons we decided to try UpWork rather than continue with freelancer.com is the very practice of always being placed under pressure to help with profiles in the form of providing positive 5 star feedback or else source code is with held etc.,
We have been in that position 3 times on freelancer which is why I find it difficult to continue to trust in that system hence my willingness to try UpWork. As I say, since the changing of hourly rate did not affect the overall budget I did not see this as compromising the integrity of the profile itself only the ability to be in a position and help a seemingly credible, hard working, articulate young man, apparently in Switzerland, who even when I questioned him on his home town had the right answers.
It may seem here that I am trying to constantly defend the hiring of "Mateo" and the inability to evaluate his work but I assure you this is not the case. I am guilty of trust this is absolutely correct as well as guilty of placing trust on a platform but surely when we have no trust we are lost.
Nevertheless the points you raise Preston are most valid and I thank you for taking the time and effort to do so. Greatly appreciated.
“I am guilty of trust this is absolutely correct as well as guilty of placing trust on a platform but surely when we have no trust we are lost.”
Yes, trust must kick in sooner or later, or we are lost.
But no system is foolproof. A con man is called thus precisely because he preys on trust.
Yours is an unfortunate experience, but if it is any comfort, we freelancers get taken for a ride, too.
I hope that this unfortunate incident will not destroy your trust in the system.
You keep talking about this "$3000 project cap" but also saying that you hired this freelancer for an hourly contract, not a fixed price contract. As far as I know, there's no way to set a price cap on an hourly project? You can limit the number of hours a freelancer can bill during the week, but you can't limit the end cost, as far as I know.
Anyway, it seems like others have provided you with valuable advice. For a large project it's always wise to start with a small trial and to closely monitor the initial work.
actually we agreed on the sum because "Mateo" meant that the budget was not enough for iOS and Android development. Without going into detail using a specific reference case which he has in his profile he explained how the foundation of our project was already in place due to the similarities but that parallel development required more funding. So we agreed to increase the budget. Again everything appeared extremely genuine. And actually what the individual has done was extremely clever because rather than simply logging all hours in one block, the hours were logged over time until the budget was reached. If the individual had invoiced more then of course I would have reacted straight away from the payment receipts. Instead it went some days before I noticed suddenly I was unable to communicate with him on Skype and that was when I began to wonder what is going on?
In all hoensty Jennifer, at that point I still did not believe anything was wrong, as I say I know I have been guilty of trust here and I cannot deny that, because I also kept trying to reconnect believing he must have blocked me by mistake. After all the dialogue and daily discussions I believed this was a real individual. I even planned a trip down to meet with him to discuss future collaboration that is how far the dialogue was. But it was only when my partner said, listen, this all looks very suspicious and began to review it objectively that it became clear what has happened.
As I say, very saddened by this whole affair. But again, as with Preston and Gabriel, you are right. I placed my trust in the system, the references, the "rising star", the "money back guarantee", all the discussions and the human aspect of the project. And although there are no written rules to client / freelancer relations in larger projects, it is perhaps of benefit to both parties to engage in smaller more controlled trials.
Thank you for tkaing the time and effort for writing.
Hi Karl, my point is that, for an hourly contract, you can't actually go "okay this is the limit of our budget" using the Upwork system. You may have an agreement with the freelancer that that is the limit, but unless you limit their hours per week and closely monitor that (and pause the contract if the hours they have billed is getting too high), you can't control your budget in this way. If you have a genuine fixed budget, it's probably better to use a fixed-price contract next time. Good luck for your future projects!
I am sorry you had a negative experience with a freelancer on Upwork. I see that you already submitted a ticket about it as well. I will follow up with the team and make sure the freelancer's account is reviewed. Note, however, that sharing private information and names in accusation of misconduct is not allowed in the Community. Therefore, the team will assist you directly via the ticket.
apologies I did not know this.
I wanted merely to placed a warning and alert to other potential clients which is why I wrote in this section, in the event that the individual was perhaps now targetting or canvasing other potential victims. I thought that this was at the very least what I could do to contribute.
I did not expect such response, so in many ways, I see that only as positive that the community are themselves so engaged.
I will refrain from further comment and trust you can appreciate the situation and my intention to merely prevent another from succoming to the same position.