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e4ccee5b
Member

Scam by Mobile App Developer

For those people who are thinking of starting an hourly contract, don't bother to do so! If someone only wants to work with you on a hourly basis, please reject or work by fixed job basis.

 

I had a very very tough time trying to get back my money and I am still trying to fight for it. And don't think that by filing a dispute, Upwork is going to refund you the money. His name is **Edited for Community Guidelines** and I believe that is not his real name.

 

Once the freelancer withdraws it, that's it. You have to deal with the loss if the money is landed in his account.

 

Initially, I thought that he wishes to clock his hours so I went ahead with his demands and go for the hourly contract and not go for the fixed price contract. I wanted to help him to clock his hours so that I am able to get the app in return.

 

because the app is complicated so I am willing to invest some money to get things going but who knows that it's a scam.

 

I paid over $8000 for a mobile app because the freelancer said he need money to pay for his team, so I didn't think so much but he kept on giving me a few different lame bull**bleep** reasons which I can't believe that I actually trusted him for that. And I started to realize that something is wrong so I filed a dispute.

 

And if you think by filing a dispute, you can get back the money, then I am sorry to say that, if the freelancer withdraws the money, then you can almost say goodbye to your hard earned money and Upwork is not going to help to refund even though the freelancer didn't deliver anything.

 

I believe that the freelancer I worked with is very familiar with the policy probably because he have scammed a few clients and I am one of them. And you can't file a dispute after the next week once you have clocked the hours because Upwork will assume that you paid for the work even though they might just clock and not deliver anything.

 

So please be careful guys. I have lost about $8,000 plus and paypal can't reverse the transactions because Upwork used that policy against me. Best is to go for fixed price contract and only RELEASE the money if they deliver something. If not just file a dispute. I learnt the lesson the hard way and right now, I am still trying to figure out ways on how to get back my money.

 

Upwork is not going to help you even if you filed a dispute! 

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
kochubei_valeria
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Wilson,

 

I am really sorry to hear the relationship with this freelancer didn't turn out well. I see that the team has been assisting you through our ticketing system. On hourly contracts the client is able to dispute hours logged by the freelancer during the review period but, unfortunately, once the money is withdrawn by the freelancer Upwork has no access to it.

~ Valeria
Upwork

View solution in original post

33 REPLIES 33
kochubei_valeria
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Wilson,

 

I am really sorry to hear the relationship with this freelancer didn't turn out well. I see that the team has been assisting you through our ticketing system. On hourly contracts the client is able to dispute hours logged by the freelancer during the review period but, unfortunately, once the money is withdrawn by the freelancer Upwork has no access to it.

~ Valeria
Upwork
e4ccee5b
Member

Yes, because he is very familiar with the policy and I just want to get the work done. So it is my fault for not reading the policy carefully but I think no one will go and read the terms and conditions unless something happened.

What disappoints me is when I tried to get the personal particulars from the freelancer so that I can file a fraud case to the cyber crime police, upwork actually said it is confidential??!! It just shows that they are not willing to even help me to get back the money. So I lost money and the freelancer got suspended which doesn't benefit me at all.

Please advise what I should do next besides accepting this loss. I didn't expect it to be a fraud and I am willing to pay for the service but right now the freelancer ran away with the money and there is nothing much I can do about it

Hi Wilson,

 

The team is currently checking if it's possible to she the freelancer's information with you. They will update you via the open ticket.

 

Thank you.

~ Valeria
Upwork
e4ccee5b
Member

Yes. If upwork is willing to reverse the transaction and place the refund limit on the freelancer account then that would be the best because even though, upwork can use their policy against me, the fact that I didn't receive my service after making the payment is very unfair to me as a consumer. I don't think anyone can predict such thing can happen because as a client, we just want to get things done so I was just seeing if there is any exceptions being made for this case. I would sincerely appreciate that.

I am not sure how to resolve this issue other than taking the loss because I wanted the service that's why I have made the payment. I hope upwork can put themselves in my shoes rather than just a client. It just doesn't make any sense to me when I made the payment and I didn't receive any service. The freelancer knows the hourly payment so he is taking advantage of this loop hole. But I just want to get things done so I didn't really go and read up the policy. I just hope upwork can sincerely create a fair outcome for me
e4ccee5b
Member

Not sure why it is solved but it is not solved yet!

Wilson:

I hope for the best possible outcome for you in this case.

 

But for your sake of your future projects, whether here or elsewhere, and for the sake of others reading, you should understand that you made some critical tactical errors... doing things that experienced clients would not have done.

 

* It appears that you did not have a project manager.

* You apparently only hired one contractor. (Or one "contractor" fronting a "team".)

* You allowed the contractor to bill a significant amount of money to your account without delivering demonstrated deliverables.

 

In the future you will:

- Work with a qualified project manager for a project of this size

 

- Hire multiple contractors. For a project of this scope, you should hire 6 to contractors, to test out their capabilities and value. You will assign them small tasks. Then you will pick the best to continue working with. Most of the contractors you hire will only work for you for a few hours... as little as a single hour. Your project manager will help to identity the best, and you will close the contracts on the rest, ending up with 1 or 2 contractors that you continue working with.

 

- Developers will not make excuses about why they have not delivered anything. If they do, you close the contracts and stop working with them. Developers provide demonstrable results on a regular basis. Perhaps weekly. Perhaps even daily. Your project manager reviews the source code. You review the actual functionality of the new work. There is no such thing as waiting for the project to be done before seeing it all work together. You don't need to work with people who lie to you like that.

Also, the original poster mentioned some things and did some things that run counter to successful project development.

 

Here are some mantras for success:

 

There are no "fraud cases"

There are no "cyber crime police."

There are no "disputes."

 

None of these things have anything to do with successfully developing an app or software program.

 

Lawyers and police and arbitrators do not build apps.

 

If you want an app developed, you and your project manager work with skilled developers and contractrors who submit results and provide good value. You keep in mind you don't owe these people ANYTHING. You don't owe them continued work. You don't owe them a job. There are other people you can work with.

 

You evaluate many and get rid of most and then keep working with those who are great, and get your project done.

 

For a large app development project it never makes sense to only hire one person. How do you know the other person won't produce the same results for half the cost?


Preston H wrote:

Wilson:

 

In the future you will:

- Work with a qualified project manager for a project of this size

Hi Preston, 

Could you expand on what you mean by working with/hiring a qualified project manager?

 

Are you suggesting hiring/having a designated person outside of up Upwork that will manage the project?  Hiring a qualified person via Upwork to do this?  Does Upwork have such a service like this that they provide at reasonable cost?

 

I've seen you make this suggestion on at least one other thread.  For many of the clients looking here for freelancers, the first two of the above options may pose signifigant hurdles. 

 

I'm not challenging your suggestion.  On the contray, I believe you know your stuff, and am looking for your direction.  I've been extremly disappointed recently with the experiences that I've been having here, and definiteily need to do things differently if I'm going to try and continue.   

Michael:

ALL projects of significant size and complexity have a project manager.

 

The project manager is either:

- You (the project owner)

- or an independent project manager that you hire to work on your behalf

- or the lead developer.

 

BUT: Only about 25% of lead developers are actually capable of serving as their own project manager.

 

Which means:

If YOU don't actually do the job of a project manager, and if you don't hire somebody to do the job, then the role DEFAULTS to the lead developer. Which in 75% of projects means the project will fail.

 

To answer your specific questions:

YES, you can hire project managers on Upwork.

No, it is not a "service" that Upwork provides in any way other than that. Just as "web application development" and "drawing a picture of a flower" are not services that Upwork "provides."

 

If you don't want to HIRE a project manager.... You don't have to. But it means you need to do the job yourself, as the project owner. Hiring a freelancer or agency to work on a project for you is NOT project management.

Thanks for the reply Preston!

 

So for a one-man 'project', that's would require let's say 30-60 hours...it sounds like you can appreciate it's not necessarily practical to procure a pm if you don't already have one on staff (and aren't necessarily capable of doing it yourself)? 

In such a case you would just advise going the route of hiring multiple contractors and giving the small pieces/tests initially? 

 

The truth is...in the experience that I've been having over the past 2 weeks, is that very well reviewed developer (which according to his profile just finished a 2yr $100k+ engagement with a glowing 5-star review!) has basiclly been taking me for a ride. 

 

I hired him for basiclly a 1-2 week project.

He committed to a certain amount of hours per week, when I first confronted him about him not keeping to it, he resolved to 'make it up etc.', and committed to even more hours for the second week. Second week started off strong (this past Monday), there was less than 10 hrs. worth of work left (and he had committed to 8hrs per day).  And since Tuesday, (when he was supposed to give me a first working version for testing) he's been practically unreachable.  No reply on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, he told me that he'd give me the version to test that day.  Nothing came.   Same thing on Thursday.  Finally received it from him today and it's full of bugs (which is to be somewhat expeceted), but he's not being very responsive about it.  And to deal with these bugs on Tuesday, would be one thing...dealing with them now, is a different story.  I'm also finding that certain things that were supposed to be implemented, simply aren't.  

 

While going the route of multiple contractors would have kinda given me more options in the beginning, this dev could have pulled this same act with an experienced pm, no?

 

Also, to do the same vetting and intro steps with 4 devs, that I did with this one, the amount of time/resources (and perhaps cost, too) required for a single contract starts to really grow.   

 

I've asked him for the source code a few times today, and he hasn't provided it yet. 

I'd very much apprecaite your direction both in the general sense, and for this specific case as well.  

 

 

 

re: "In such a case you would just advise going the route of hiring multiple contractors and giving the small pieces/tests initially?"

 

This would be helpful, yes.

 

You say you aren't qualified to serve as a project manager, and you are not going to hire one for this project.

 

Obviously the one freelancer you hired wasn't performing the role of project manager either.

 

If you hire enough people, and ask them to work in a modular fashion, then you can hopefully get the work done. But you'll have to do the best you can to work as the project manager.


That means that you will need to ask freelancers to work on individual modules and turn them in and you will need to test them to make sure things work as you expect them to.

 

Check everybody's work. Test that it works for you, from your own computer or device.

 

You can't just hire a random stranger and expect him to work on a big project without checking things. Having a freelancer tell you that something was done hasn't been helpful to you.

 

If you can't compile the individual modules together yourself, you'll need to hire somebody who can do that.

Thank you again,  Preston for your guidance. 

I mispoke - essentially I am serving as pm, taking a few different modules from diffrerent sources and compiling them on my on machine. 


What I'm understanding from you, is that for this project (or part of my project), which I saw as a 1-man job taking 30-60 hours - I should have broken it down further and given different developers different parts.

 

It may have been a too difficult with this specific project (given it's specific nature, and not having a clue about how to 'architect' software), but if I had, it would have signifigantly reduced my reliance and subsequently my risk on any specific part or person.   After this learning experience, I think I would even change the scope and specs of the project, if I didn't otherwise see a way of to delegate different parts to different developers. 

 

Is that the idea??  

 

Whether a single person does all the work, or dozens of people do the work...

 

...you, as the project owner, will be more successul if the project is created in a modular fashion.


Complex projects need to be created in a modular fashion.

Each piece needs to work well on its own. Each needs to be tested and demonstrated.

 

That is best way to ensure that the project works well.

 

Both from a technical point of view, as well as for the purposes of project management and cost.

 

If you receive and demonstrate working pieces of the overall project, you're on the right track. You can continue working with the freelancers who deliver those functional, tested, high-quality parts.

 

But if you just have somebody telling you they're working on it, and you can't see the individual results until the very end, then you don't really know what is going on.

 

So yes, using multiple freelancers to work on individual parts of the project is a great way to go.

But using a single quality freelancer to do everything can also work.


But either way, you want to see each piece functioning, and you only want to work with freelancers who are really delivering what you need.

 

What can get tricky - and this varies depending on the type of project or development platform - is putting everything together. You either have the expertise to do this yourself, or you don't. So you may need to hire somebody to help with the overall architecture. Sometimes that is a project manager. Sometimes that is a lead developer. Sometimes that is you.

Worst case scenario... if you really can't hire a project manager and you don't have any technical know-how... then at very least you need to work with a freelancer who will deliver the project to you a piece at a time. Even if it means delivering the whole project in steps.

 

Like this:

 

The project performs functions A, B, C, D, E, F.

This will take time to complete.

Require the developer to provide you with the working application doing ONLY Function A.

Then Functions A, B.

Then Functions A, B, C.

Etc.

 

Test the new functionality and the old funtionality when provided with the latest version.

You may not be able understand the source code, but you can test the working version, and you can test it BEFORE the project is "complete."


If the freelancer is only able to deliver the final project to you when ALL of it is working, and can't let you test it step by step, then you need to work with a different freelancer.

 

Because if you can't test the project along the path to completion, how do you know if ANY of the money you're paying is actually pushing your project forward? There's no way to know.

 

You need to do what it takes to make sure you can monitor the progress of the project.

Thank you very much, Preston!

e4ccee5b
Member

Yes, I have made a few critical mistakes of hiring the freelancers and I have learnt it the hard way but I was just wondering if there is any solution to my problem?
e4ccee5b
Member

Hi Preston, I understand where you are coming from and I totally know what you are trying to say. I have to agree with your statement But I would appreciate if you are able to provide a constructive solution on my current case since I made a few mistakes of hiring the wrong freelancers and the team which he claimed to have.

Wilson,

 

Unless this person lives in the same country than you, I'm afraid there is no solution. As Valeria explained to you, there is a timeframe for disputes. Upwork cannot do anything to help you recovering your money.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   โ€”William Ashbless
cupidmedia
Member

Wilson, like others have said, unfortunately there isn't really a solution for you because you haven't used the avenues Upwork provides to help you with this. If a freelancer is working on an hourly contract, you can literally watch them work using the work diary, and have time to review their work diary and dispute any hours you are not happy with. It sounds like you let this freelancer work for quite a long time without looking at what he was doing in the work diary.

 

Also, hourly contracts are designed for either ongoing projects or projects without fixed "deliverables". The freelancer gets paid for the hours they worked, even if they don't deliver anything to you. Fixed price contracts are better if you want a certain deliverable.

 

Unfortunately, I don't think there's really a solution that you are going to be happy with.

I don't think serious developers go with fixed priced projects because it's impossible to determine in advance how much something will take (unless the description is very accurate and every API is thoroughly documented - which is never the case).

Most serious application development projects will be done using hourly contracts, in order to maintan a high level of quality.

I will only do hourly contracts for app development with the possible exception of something small and well defined from a client I have worked extensively with in the past.  From my profile you can see that none of my clients feel they were ripped off by an hourly contract.

 

I hate to read stories such as posted by the OP.  I understand the anger and frustration especially when that kind of money is involved.  I also get the lashing out because of it.  However, don't paint all freelancers with the same brush.  There are plenty of scammers or low quality people doing fixed bids. 

 

One thing I always do with my clients is send video updates.  I will show the work and talk through the functionality, issues, etc.  Of course I provide the app as well throughout but often it is important to show and talk through an unfinished product so that it's clear what is going on.  It also helps create a connection and a sense of comfort to hear from the freelancer.  I bring this up as something you and everyone seeking app development should ask about when hiring a freelancer.  I enjoy making sure clients know where they stand and showing the product.  I guarantee you anyone who takes pride in the work and values the client relationship would do the same.  If you plan to spend the money you have the right to know what's going on every step of the way.  If a freelancers blanches at regular updates, move on. 

jaliu
Member

so you did not dispute in time or was the freelancer allowed to withdraw the funds during the review period?

19f47239
Member

Wilson,

   I believe I just fell vitcim to the same individual (or the same scam).  My scammer actually hired a free lance IOS builder on Freelancer to create a video of my apps progress and then sent it to me for release of some hourly payment (he paid a freelancer $100 for this---according to the freelancer---and then kept $1350 which was paid out to him because we thought this was actually an early preview of a product we were getting).   The scammer then started asking for money for his sick relatives which threw up red-flags, and when I refused to pay, he quit responding.  

 

 I would like to personally talk to you further as it sounds like this happens as Upwork quite regularly and that is a concern.  My hired freelancer came up as "Recommended/Rising Talent" by Upwork---which is obviously misleading, concerning and negligent. 

re: "The scammer then started asking for money for his sick relatives"

 

Two questions, aimed at nobody in particular:

 

Whose business model is it to pay a freelancer more money for providing nothing of value because that freelancer's relatives are sick?

 

Did he mention whether or not his sick relatives are orphaned baby seals?

Hi Joe,

 

Yes, that is also the reason why i got scammed. Upwork shows them as Recommended or Uprising talent so I actually trusted that. I guess what he did was to use other accounts to give himself testimonials which resulted in that.

 

You did right by stop paying. I made a mistake of thinking in his shoes and wanted to help him out since I really wanted to develop the app project. But I have lost over $10,000 and might even go up to $20,000 if the chargeback failed. 

 

Good learning lesson for me and the only way to avoid is to stop paying so fast untill you have really seen something from them. 

 

And if you expect by filing a dispute is going to help, it's not going to help if the freelancer doesn't want to refund unless the funds are still in the milestone which it's pretty impossible if the freelancer has the intention to scam you. They will find some ways to get the money first.

 

Upwork will not help you if the freelancer is not going to refund you. At most they will suspend his account which doesn't benefit you either.

 

When the talents doesn't have much portfolio even if they are rising/recommended, it will be best to test them out before pay any single cent. The portfolio can be fake as well since they just want to find ways to get the money out of you.

 

 

vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Wilson,

 

I'd like to respond to your recent comments regarding the outcome and experince on the contract you mentioned. I see our team has responded to all of your questions and tickets, explained how our Hourly Payment Protection program works, shared all the information they could and took action against the freelancer's account. As Valeria replied to your opening post on this thread, unfortunately you haven't used the mechanisms of our Protection Program to protect your payment. I understand your frustration but I'm sure you can agree that the unfortunate outcome of the contract is a result of a failure to review the freelancer's work, use the payment protection Upwork provides to both clients and freelancers, and not by the fact that the freelancer was part of a Rising Talent program.

 

 

Untitled
vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Joe,

 

I see you have just provided screenshots our agent requested, and our team will follow up on your ticket soon and review the information. Please refrain from sharing any details regarding this contract as we can't discuss account and contract specific issues in the Community.

 

Regarding the Rising Talent badge, please read more about the program here.

Untitled
19f47239
Member

Agreed Preston. We stopped payment at that point---as we realized we were likely part of a scam.

Hopefully this puts a flag out in term of his "rising talent" (unless the intent of this site is to identify those who can extort money).
vdubeau
Member

@Wilson and @Joe

 

Sorry to hear that you had bad experiences but to blame Upwork is ridiculous (even they aren't perfect Smiley Happy).

 

When I develop a new Filemaker database for a client I always try to get them to go with an hourly project. Why? Because if I'm forced into providing a fixed price it will be at least double the number of hours I think it might take to account for the unexpected or small additions to the requirements.

 

The mistake you made was to just let the freelancer keep billing without providing anything. I generally provide an updated version of the database I'm developing on a weekly basis and arrange some time to discuss it with the client. At any time the client can decide that she doesn't want to continue for whatever reason (happily that hasn't happened).

 

Bottom line is that there really isn't anything wrong with hourly projects as long as they are managed properly.

"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are."
Buckaroo Banzai

re: "The mistake you made was to just let the freelancer keep billing without providing anything."

 

This is is a mistake whether one is using fixed-price or hourly contract models.

 

Unfortunately it is a mistake many clients have, before learning from a bad experience.

 

In a perfect world, clients would not need to have knowledge and experience such as this in order to avoid getting ripped off. In a perfect world, all Upwork clients would be treated respectfully and fairly and would not encounter scammers or fraudulent "contractors" who rip them off.

 

This is Upwork's goal. Upwork has made great strides over the past two years in clamping down on and getting rid of fraudulent contractors. But it is a very large platform with millions of users, and unfortunately there are still contractors who do this kind of thing... bill clients without providing the work they were contracted to do.

e632ecdf
Member

Hello Valeria, sorry to hear you've gone through this problem, but you've done a lot of Good to thousands of new clients by sharing your story. Im a new client myself on UpWork, and reading your story helps others a lot, at least here in US clients got scammed a lot, and such posts like Your helps others. I worked in banks here in US, and this is a banking issue :1. Some banks can recall the payments within Maximum 3 business days , so you have to act very fast in such situations, but check with your bank first. Once an electronic payment is made- other than what I mentioned above- unfortunately there's nothing ( in my opinion) UpWork ( or any other 3rd pty company) can do. However, the payment may be recalled within 3 business days - depending on your bank ( I'm referring to banks in USA only). I hope this opinion may be useful to those they may need it in the future, or better, I hope people can avoid scammer and don't have to go through this issue as you described. Regards, Florin
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