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Community Member

A new kind of scam/fraud happening on platform in terms of NFT/cryptocurrency/USDT/Binance

Recently happened with one of my closest freelancers. 


Please read this article carefully and be aware of these new kinds of scams & frauds happening. I suggest you all, keep yourself aware of the latest Upwork guidelines and try to KNOW YOUR CLIENT before you also get trapped in such a scam. 


His Upwork account is locked for any financial transactions for 90 days/until a decision is made.

He was doing work with a client as a graphic designer. The client awarded him different graphic design jobs and paid him for those jobs. Then later on he trapped the freelancer cleverly in a scam of buying cryptocurrency (USDT) from Binance through the freelancer's own Payoneer card and then transferring those USDT to his client's Binance account. In return, he offered to pay the amount with 3x profit (means if he buys the USDT of 1000$ client will pay $3000). The freelancer did the same and the client sent him the payment on Upwork as a bonus. Upwork has also approved those payments and they continued this all for a couple of weeks and the client continued to send him the 3x amount for each transaction. This brought confidence to the freelancer and he continued to work with the client. But later on for some more transactions when Upwork reviewed the funds before processing them to the freelancer account they holds all the payments and also requested to return the previously approved transactions. Upwork says that the client uses fake/stolen credit card info and the bank claimed Upwork to reverse all the amount. Due to this, Upwork held his account for any financial transaction for 90days. The client is not responding anymore to him and Upwork says it was a scam.  According to my knowledge at the moment He lost about $10-12k through this scam. And Upwork saying him to return those amounts either through his Upwork earnings or some other source. While he already sent the proof of funds transferred to the client's Binance account in the form of USDT. 


Upwork disputed the amount with the client's bank after providing the necessary chat proof and documents and he has to wait for 90days for a decision. Upwork also said if the amount is not recovered then he has to pay those $10-12k to continue working on the Upwork platform. This is a huge loss for a freelancer who is working on Upwork full-time and has no other source of income. 


He is working on Upwork for the last 9years. But there is not much support given at the moment to him.


There are some concerns from the security point of view of freelancers:

  • Upwork should figure out and verify in advance at the time of escrow or when a client tried to add a fake/stolen credit/debit card.
  • Upwork need to verify if the payment source provided by the client is matching with his name/company upfront rather than after 2-3weeks when the freelancer has done a lot of work for the client.
  • If the payment source provided by a client was approved by Upwork before and the freelancer started work with that client and later on after 2-3weeks when Upwork releases the payment and decides that the payment is reversed due to a dispute with the bank then who is mainly responsible? 
  • There should be protection provided to freelancers who are freelancing as full-time. 


BTW, He is waiting for the Upwork decision on the whole matter and dispute, and I hope Upwork will support him in this tough situation, especially when freelancing is only his source of income and his 9years freelancer relationship with the platform. He was supporting his family through this freelancing and now he has a very hard time. I am trying to support him as much as I can and keep him motivated in this situation and pray for him. I hope Upwork will also support him in regard to his long-term relationship with the platform. 




Community Member

This scam has been going on for a while. 
For everyone reading this, it is important to mention that this type of transaction is a violation of Upwork's Terms of Service.


Term of Use, article 3.3 mentions that Upwork should not be used to:

  • request or provide services that primarily concern making purchases on behalf of another, including the purchase of cryptocurrency or NFTs.

Following that basic rule avoids further problems.

Community Member

Always be very cautious when someone offers you a quick and large profit -
these are usually scams.
Anytime you are requested to pay into a platform to get a profit you should
do research on the client - freelance work is about providing a service and
then getting payment for that service NOT for making quick profit

Louise S wrote:
Anytime you are requested to pay into a platform to get a profit you should
do research on the client...

Payments outside Upwork is a violation of the Terms of Service and can get the account suspended. So no need to research on the client/scammer.

Community Member

This person used zero common sense and was blinded by his own greed. There was no reason why his "client" couldn't buy crypto himself. If someone offers a lot of money to do something really simple, it's always a scam, or you're participating in fraud/money laundering. Upwork can't prevent freelancers from doing stupid things. 

Community Member

Sorry, but: really really really old scam, reported hundreds of time here. 

Your friend violated upwork ToS. Upwork does not support people who violate their ToS. 

This is money that was literally earned in mere seconds. Your friend should refund upwork, otherwise he will not be able to use upwork going forward. 

Did you try to tell him that nobody will pay $3000 to get $1000? Did you try to convince him that this can never be real and never be anything else than a scam?  

Just so it's perfectly clear to you how this works: the client uses a stolen credit card to trick the (greedy) freelancer into buying crypto or other virtual currency for him. That goes well until the real owner of the credit card notices the theft and has it reversed by his bank. Since this is a clear case of fraud/money laundering/theft, your friend will never get any money. He should be very grateful to not be accused of any criminal activity and maybe stay away from things he does not understand?


Community Member

Not new, and one of the most obvious scams out there. It should be pretty clear from the fact that this is a freelancing platform - where we find work - and buying crypto for other people is not work. Upwork doesn't need to do anything about this as the whole thing is already prohibited by the ToS.

Community Member

Old news, and this has been going on for years.  It's the freelancer's OWN fault for exchanging payments of any form outside of the Upwork platform.  The freelancer broke the rules and got burnt in the process as a result. Nothing new and nothing to see here.

Community Member

This is not new. Just remember if it's too good to be true, it's because it's too good to be true. 

Community Member

Man, this is a very sad situation. I´m not blaming your friend, everybody is susceptible to fall in some kind of scam, but realy, your friend wasn´t wise.

Sadly some freelancers blames the victims of scams instead of blaming the scammers. Your friend was stupid for sure, and did somethings wrong like doing transactions outside Upwork, but he is the victim here, much more wrong is the client scammer. Yes, we must knows how to avoid scammers, but scammers is the ones that is realy wrong.

Now talking about the offer: an offer wich the client says "Pays me $1000 and I will pay you back $3000 like magic" is toooooo gooood to be true!!!!!! Something must be wrong! Your friend should suspect!

Doing transactions outside Upwork is wrong. Also, never send money to a client. Money flows from clients to freelancers, never the opposite.

I hope this situation can be solved as best as possible.

Community Member

One of the many scams that can only happen if the freelancer doesn't bother to read the terms of service or reads them and decides to violate them.

Community Member

On a sidenote how can upwork protect itself? In the end they may not be able to collect back from the freelancer. 

So a high earning pro wouldnt fall for this scam, its always the newbies who dont have much to lose. They can simply go their own ways never working for upwork again, frauding the platform 10-20-50k at a time. i'm paying this cost with my service fees and i'm not happy about this!

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