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Theft of source code

We recently terminated a contract with a freelancer here on upwork on bad terms. Effectively, they did not have the skills to complete the project and we paid them their logged hours and the amount we agreed upon in a signed contract between both of us.


Upon terminating the contract, they wanted a bonus for hours they put in that were at their own risk. This was made clear to them upfront that they were doing this at their own risk because they wanted a chance to finish the project and fix errors that were still happening to avoid a bad review. Becuase they did not receive this bonus (they emailed us outside of upwork with bank account information demanding we pay this bonus) or they would open source the code on github. This is effectively extortion. Our code base has since been posted on github and even after filing complaints with upwork support, upwork has done nothing. You can actually still contract this freelancer as of this post.


Really at a loss here for recourse to have our code taken down and have this freelancer stop harassing us for payment. At the very least, I hope other people read this and steer clear of upwork. This freelancer is US based and passed background checks. He had tens of thousands of paid invoices with 4.5+ star reviews. It looks like he can do basic UI things but not much else. Who knows how many other clients he did this to so he can effectively keep on doing this.

Community Member

hi i am upwotk 

Community Member
Community Member

Hi Hobey, I hear you pain here. It seems that you have proofs of extortion and stealing of your code. I would advise a lawyer, in parallel, but in addition to contacting support, which takes time naturally, may I suggest you to open a dispute? Besides payment issues, that will involve upwork immediately, while also flag the freelancer, as a warning.


I found this:



Contacting github is also an option, especially if you have a signed NDA.

Community Member

You are correct. Extortion is a crime. That's an issue for law enforcement. 


What Upwork will be concerned about here is that the freelancer asked for payment outside the platform. That may get them banned.

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