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Freelancers Beware! Upwork Needs to Screen Clients Better

Here is a note I got from a job I bid on:


**Edited for Community Guidelines**
The info they requested included me sending them a W-9, a drivers license and photo. Had I sent that. I would have been screwed. But lucky for me I had things to do before I could send off anything.. So by the time I went to gather the info and get it sent off, the job was closed. Lucky me. So I found the website for Express Writers and wrote a note. A manager wrote back to tell me they have had trouble before with someone acting as Express Writers.

Come on Upwork. Really? How many people like this land on your site? Since I have only had 3 $50 jobs in the month of August, you can imagine how this only adds to my frustration. I have been with Elance and Upwork for over 8 years and now for the first time there seems to be no good jobs, but plenty of $3 an hour jobs, or write a book for $30. Please!  

I'm only writing this to let others know that not everything on Upwork is as it seems. I could go on about the lack of jobs, but not this time.

These people seem to be making the rounds. This was posted in the client section by someone else.

Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Judi,


I checked and the client's account and their jobs were removed from the platform yesterday. You'll see that the invite has already been archived.

~ Valeria

I received that same "invitation" from them a couple weeks ago. I explained to them I wasn't comfortable giving them that information and it was not necessary for this platform.  I suggested she talk with Upwork about the Enterprise program if she needs additional ID verification or screening. The rep claimed to be new to Upwork and didn't know it was unusual to ask for ID.  I also submitted a support ticket, I suspected she was trying to recruit for off platform work since they are a content mill. The job I was invited to apply for was removed. But it is interesting they posted more of the same. I wouldn't be surprised if they post a new job with the same conditions next week. 


I asked around about them on another platform and that seems to be a legitimate company. But others who worked with them thought the behavior of the person who contacted me here was unusual. It is interesting that the postings are reoccurring. Upwork isn't able to better screen repeated instances of the exact same behavior from the same "client"? Interesting...

Scammers frequently use the name of a known, reputable company and even the names of their employees.  Just know that anyone asking for personal information is a scammer, report the job and move on.


@Judi B wrote:


The info they requested included me sending them a W-9, a drivers license and photo. (...) So by the time I went to gather the info and get it sent off, the job was closed. Lucky me.

Were you really about to send those documents? If so, you were indeed lucky.


Luck may replace wisdom at times. Not always although.



"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

I wasn't going to send the documents. I did give the "client" the benefit of the doubt and explained why it was not appropriate. I also opened a help desk ticket about the job as I suspected at best she was trying to recruit for off-platform work, at worst she was phishing.


I just realized, Upwork did not necessarily remove the job after I turned her in last week (8/15). It says "This room has been archived because the job has been canceled by the client." The message from support said something like they are working with the client to help her learn to use the system. If she is still sending the same message out a week later, it sounds like something is wrong with the response system for scam clients.


I frequently defend the fact that Upwork cannot possibly screen every new posting with the fee we pay. But it is concerning that they would let such an explicit violation slide for a week or more. It also seems there should be an algorithm that prevents the same scam from getting posted multiple times. It sounds the same; I wouldn't be surprised if the rep even used the same name as she didn't feel any need to use a different company's name.


I am glad that it doesn't appear to be that writing service as I thought that they were engaging in shady poaching strategies. 



My message from the company is still there and it does say the 'client cancelled the job'. An alert would be nice,; maybe a little message board that lists some of the scammers and some of their basic strategies or? And indeed, why is it still there?

Judi, there's a great thread in the Content Corner: link. There is absolutely no point at all in listing specific things like scammer names or companies or contact info or anything like that because they are always fake and they change them all the time. Also, scammers can read this forum just like you can - if they see that their fake name has been listed as a scam name, they'll just switch to a different name. Far better to learn the general warning signs and to develop your own gut feeling.


I worked in fraud prevention for a long time (not for Upwork) and it was always so frustrating when customers would be like "why don't you just blacklist their name/email/IP/something else" - because it's completely pointless, that's why. The best defense against scammers for ANY site is always going to be customer education. The only reason there are still scammers on Upwork running these same ridiculous scams is that people keep falling for them. If freelancers were more educated about how to protect themselves, and stopped falling for these scams, the scammers would go somewhere else (and/or switch to new scams - that's why developing your own gut feeling is the best protection). 

Do you think I'll get the banhammer if I go on requesting that link to be put on on the freelancer's page?

I admire your persistence, Nichola ... all those great suggestions you have for giving newbies a heads up - always to a resounding sound of silence.


But you keep trying!


Smiley Surprised

Thanks Jennnifer. That makes sense. It's easy enough to change your personna as a client. I'll be on the lookout now.