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elmansuri
Community Member

Alarming Surge in Scam Posts

For a few good months now there has been a heavy flood of junk job posts in my feed.  Of course, any slighlty informed individual could easily see 95% of them coming from a Km away.

 

Nonetheless, 12 months ago they were an absolute rarity. But the wave seems to have escalated into a tsunami. I feel that at least 20% of posts are junk at this point, even my thumb is working overtime because of all the unnecessary scrolling. These junk posts are mostly posted from 1 India 2 US 3 Canada.

 

I have two questions:

 

  1- what is this new ploy of wanting freelancers to contact “clients” on Telegram, etc anyways? Always using burner accounts, and wearing 50 different hats covering all sectors.

 

 

  2- What can be done about that?

Make clients establish a payment method before posting as a suggestion perhaps? I do not say this lightly. Truth is, without this feature I would not have started on Upwork. So I appreciate the benefits of said feature. But It’s the only tranchant solution I see to drastically decrease the pollution generated by the legion of scammers muddying up the job feed. And I think that Upwork moderators are swamped because even though most of them are clearly scams, they keep piling up, and tend to linger around forever unchecked, cluttering and draining connects from unsuspecting users ( not only from them, I believe I have a applied to some of them, you see, they have evolved and clearly become better at what they do when it comes to the presentation).

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martina_plaschka
Community Member

1 - The goal it to get communication outside of upwork so that critical words can't be flagged. The scam usually is a fake check cashing, identity theft or purchase of virtual currency for a bonus that will be reversed.

2 - It does not help. The bonus scammers have a verified payment method, in fact, it is an integral part of their scam. They pretend to pay a bonus, which shows up in the freelancer profile. After the freelancer purchases something with their own money, believing they will get a huge commission of 30% or more, the bonus is reversed.

I agree there seem to be many more scams going on than a year ago, but I only have anecdotal evidence. When I see a scam in my feed, it only makes me laugh. Why? Because I know what to look out for, and see that the scammers are very transparent and not really good at what they are doing. 

The only thing that will stem this tsunami is education and common sense. When people are unwilling to read the ToS or choose to ignore them, that's the only way they fall for a scam.  

 

 

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19 REPLIES 19
martina_plaschka
Community Member

1 - The goal it to get communication outside of upwork so that critical words can't be flagged. The scam usually is a fake check cashing, identity theft or purchase of virtual currency for a bonus that will be reversed.

2 - It does not help. The bonus scammers have a verified payment method, in fact, it is an integral part of their scam. They pretend to pay a bonus, which shows up in the freelancer profile. After the freelancer purchases something with their own money, believing they will get a huge commission of 30% or more, the bonus is reversed.

I agree there seem to be many more scams going on than a year ago, but I only have anecdotal evidence. When I see a scam in my feed, it only makes me laugh. Why? Because I know what to look out for, and see that the scammers are very transparent and not really good at what they are doing. 

The only thing that will stem this tsunami is education and common sense. When people are unwilling to read the ToS or choose to ignore them, that's the only way they fall for a scam.  

 

 

The problem is that common sense doesn't always cut it. Sometimes the scammers do not ask initially to contact away from Upwork.

 

For any inexperienced newcomer reading this. This is what a typical scam in the translation and editing/proofreading categories looks like (paraphrased) and they are usually very short: 

 

I am/We are  looking for an experienced  French to English (or other language to English) translator. Must be a professional. 

I am/We are  looking for an experienced  editor/proofreader. Must be a professional. 

The red flag is that there is always a high dollar rate ($2,000 - $4,000)  but an entry-level requirement. 

The other thing to look out for in these entries is the client's location.  One that I flagged today, was supposedly from the US, but the location time matches Paris (UTC+1).

 

I have already flagged several of these "offers"  in the usual job feeds on my page, and each one has up to and over 50 applications.  

I think Upwork should include a separate statement to both freelancers and clients during their sign up process that explictly states that they can't communicate off of Upwork until a contract has been set up along with a little box they have to check that they acknowledge and accept this before they are allowed to have an account.

jade-sabile
Community Member

I am so glad that I get to stumble this post. Someone has just contacted me and was asking me to message him in Telegram to talk "Business," so I went here right away to see any post or announcement such as this. And thank goodness, I read this. I will just block the "client" who offered a job outside the platform.


Jade S wrote:

I am so glad that I get to stumble this post. Someone has just contacted me and was asking me to message him in Telegram to talk "Business," so I went here right away to see any post or announcement such as this. And thank goodness, I read this. I will just block the "client" who offered a job outside the platform.


You're smart. Intuition and common sense like that will take you far. 

pgiambalvo
Community Member

I, and many other, completely agree. And they key word you used was "surge." Upwork has offered no explanation of why this surge began (and continued) other than to say scammers have become more active everywhere. For me, it was a like switch had been flicked in late August '21 and they went from a few I spotted per day to dozens. They are unwilling to implement your suggestion for fear of making the platform too hard to use for legitimate clients and believe that many of them would be hesitant to provide their payment information before they hire someone. Clients are not vetted in the same waythat freelancers are.

elmansuri
Community Member

Thank you for your valuable input.

 

Besides being on my mind for a while now, what prompted me to post was a client account called **Edited for community guidelines** who is clearly a scammer, with a successful history (tho very very short). I got the full treatment from her:

Accented Indian sounding person pretending to be Canadian.
Verified payment.

Shady Telegram account.

Large team of “coworkers” pretending to be busy.

0 exchange of names of course.

And an impromptu  “crypto currency giveaway” that they need me to ‘moderate’.

And when money is asked to be placed in escrow the contract was closed. Than you looking into her account. We spoke, so I know it is a female.

 

Regarding Payment verification, That would curtail it some I feel because most of them are not verified after all.

 

Does Upwork allow virtual debit cards to be added as a verified payment? if it's the case then this is a big leak in the bucket.

 

Ultimately, what I'm pondering about here is a solution to something that seems to some degree out of control and that I know is very challenging to contain.

 

Having said that, would it be wrong of me to assume that finding a way to cull this scourge can be solved in a manner that would be more efficacious while making sense by Upwork's business model?

It would not wrong of you to assume that, but given what we've been experiencing, it may be unrealistic. It seems that if they could, or were willing to, they would have fixed it by now. But I'm sure they are looking into it.

gilbert-phyllis
Community Member

Scammers are scavengers. Where do you find scavengers? Wherever they locate a reliable food source -- in this case, inexperienced FLs who are new to the platform and plunge in without informing themselves about how to operate their own business safely and profitably. The truly alarming surge, IMO, is in the number of ill-prepared FLs being admitted to the platform -- not the scammers who materialize in their wake. 

 

This phenomenon will continue as long as UW continues to approve FL profiles for anybody who can fog a mirror, without requiring them to demonstrate even basic understanding of the platform and how to use it. All the pearl-clutching and breast-beating from the sidelines will never change that.

 

 

colettelewis
Community Member

How many times do I have flag scam job offers (repeated every day several times a day) before they are taken down?  These are also extremely present in a Google search under translation jobs. 

Flagging scams seem to be useless. 

 

I've been flagging the exact same job post for weeks now, and it simply keeps popping up several times a day, with the same title, text, budget, and link.

Upwork could easily prevent that post from appearing and is capable of doing so but is simply unwilling to.


Peter G wrote:

Upwork could easily prevent that post from appearing and is capable of doing so but is simply unwilling to.


Why do you think that is the case? What possible benefit could there be for UW in having the capability to easily block scam job posts and refusing to do so? 

Translation is so saturated with scams (often the same scam posted multiple times in a row) that I'm realistically only seeing one real job for every ten scams. Reporting seems to do nothing. 

colettelewis
Community Member

Here are two (among many, many others), that have been up for at least three days and which Upwork refuses to remove: 

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

But they sure moved quick to remove the scam post links you posted here. Wrong priorities in play, IMO.

elmansuri
Community Member

I guess this discussion was bound to steer in that direction, which of course, is part of the organicity of the process.

 

I agree that despite the seemingly daunting task, curbing the junk flood and subsequent junk stagnation should be achievable. Without necessarily having to reach perfection. By spending a single minute thinking of ways to do so, I came up with a couple of possibilities. So I’m thinking Upwork should not be having such a hard time combating the surge with its more capable means.

 

Hopefully HW will decide to instore an environment where spam (and, what in this case is effectively, illegal activity) will be treated with 0 tolerance. Because the current situation is tipping towards being depressing.

 

EDIT------- the ideas mentioned:

 

-Tying account with a phone number, one number per account. Simple, but demanding for the small league fraudsters I assume.

 

-Banning posts that contain a telegram link. This would be major blow to their op and motivation. Half their hit-and-runs here are jobs that contain a Telegram link in the message in the hope that the FL would click right there and then.

 

 

 

Muhannad E, I vote yes to both of those ideas.

ahmorel
Community Member

Hi, I inquired on a different post on whether clients are required to verify their identity as are freelancers. Because there have been scams even with clients that have a verified payment method, past jobs and positive feedback. 

I remember the identity verification process (for freelancers) required a government photo ID and even a video call to check your face. If clients had an "Identity Verified" badge or blue check mark as freelancers  do in their profile, this could make Upwork a safer workplace and perhaps help reduce the number of scam jobs being posted by enforcing that no client shall be allowed to post without having his/her identity verified.

 

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