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dylangarity
Member

Blatant Violation of TOS - spamming 22,000+ contractors, Upwork won't take down

**Edited for Community Guidelines**


I am one of the 22,000+ freelancers who was invited to this attempted scam. I have reported it repeatedly, tried to escalate it through the Trust and Safety team—all to no avail. After being brushed off for most of a week, I finally got a clear answer, in which the Trust and Safety team is claiming this job is completely allowable on Upwork.

The public post/description explicitly violates the Terms of Service—the client refuses to use the Escrow system to fund work, insisting on unprotected payment through bonuses instead. They refuse to pay on Upwork's 14-day timeline. They state that if you request payment, they will close the job and not pay you for potentially hundreds of dollars of work you did. And they state that you will only be paid if the unprotected, unfunded work is officially accepted/approved on first go—trying to work around the Escrow system's guarantee of an opportunity to make adjustments/corrections.

Has anyone else here been invited to this or attempted to report it? Trying to find any other way to get this in front of someone who will take it seriously and get it taken down before they spam (and potentially steal from) thousands of additional freelancers.

20 REPLIES 20
ashrafkhan81
Member

You may not like the payment system for this project, but it does not look like a SCAM! 

 

Thye have an 83% hires rate, 4267 hired and 3K + open contracts, over 300+ freelancer reviews, and $300K in total spent since 2020! 

The most interesting thing about this is they have sent 22K invitations! 

 

You are uncomfortable with the Bonus Payment because there were many bonus payments and crypto-related scams on the platform. But this one looks genuine with good client history! 

 

 

Real confused by this response and weird dismissal of the issue. It's not a matter of "not liking the payment system"--the payment system is blatantly in violation of Upwork's TOS, and is set up so as to avoid the protections that Upwork puts in place for freelancers. The fact that they've spent a bunch of money may be part of why Upwork won't take it down, but that makes the situation worse, not better.


Dylan G wrote:

The fact that they've spent a bunch of money may be part of why Upwork won't take it down, but that makes the situation worse, not better.


That probably is the exact reason why they won't take it down! 

Like Wes mentioned it is not a violation of ToS, please check Vladimir's response (MOD) to this post Client can pay with bonuses only? - Upwork Community

 

True the bonus payment is completely unprotected, and Freelancers should take an informed decision on this. Even the protected payment systems have conditions that freelancers should follow to make them protected, and many freelancers, despite being aware of those conditions, do not follow them and remain unprotected during the life of the project. 

 

Like, entering manual hours on hourly contracts, and working on unfunded milestones on fixed-fee projects. 

 

Bizarre. Thanks for sharing that link--wildly disappointing to see that, and it doesn't seem to line up with the actual TOS or instructions on how work must be funded through Escrow, which I've linked below.

That said, other parts of the job post (like the client saying if you request payment, they'll close the contract without paying you for work you completed) still appear to be an explicit violation even if somehow "I will only pay through bonuses" is allowed.

I guess I just in general don't see how "demanding freelancers work in a completely unprotected payment system" doesn't violate Upwork's TOS. Sure, no one's required to say yes, but it's a pretty blatant attempt to take advantage of freelancers and potentially scam them for free work. Upwork has two systems of payment protection for a reason. It's not something people are coming to an agreement about (like doing some additional work, or doing manual hours, which could be an understandable mutual agreement)--it's the entire foundation of the job. They refuse to actually fund the work.

wescowley
Member

While there's no way I'd ever agree to those payment terms, and I wouldn't recommend that anyone else do so, I don't see that it violates the terms of service as long as they follow through on payment.

Interesting. It seems to explicitly violate the rules for funding of fixed-price contracts though: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211068208-Escrow-for-Fixed-Price-Jobs

Isn't refusing to fund work through Upwork's system, then demanding that work be delivered without putting those funds in Escrow, a clear violation? Especially the part where they directly state that if you request funds, they will close the job without paying you for work you did. Like, there's a promise on their end in the job post itself to not follow through on payment if you do something totally within the normal bounds of Upwork's system.


Dylan G wrote:


Isn't refusing to fund work through Upwork's system, then demanding that work be delivered without putting those funds in Escrow, a clear violation?


No, it isn't.

It's against TOS to ask for free work, but that's not what's happening here. And they are not refusing to fund through Upworks system.


Dylan G wrote:


Especially the part where they directly state that if you request funds, they will close the job without paying you for work you did.


That's not what they said, though.

This is what they said: ""NEVER SUBMIT A REQUEST FOR PAYMENT. Why? All it does is force payment of the $5 milestone and close the contract. We want to keep your contract open so we can give you more jobs.""

They seem to have misunderstood how submitting work for payment works, but they haven't said that 'they' will close the contract without paying.

I don't even think the number of invites they sent out is a red flag considering the nature of the task.



 

I guess I disagree about what's happening here. It is demanding free work if there's no guarantee of payment.

And I think they're relying on that ostensible "misunderstanding." I agree the post is carefully crafted to try to weasel around things, but it still seems to fail (and obviously should not be on Upwork either way). They ARE saying they'll close the contract without paying, even though they're misrepresnting the reason for that.

The number of invites does line up with the nature of the task, but it is a red flag when aligned with the rest of the job description. Again, 22,000+ people at this point, spammed with this attempt to get unfunded and potentially unpaid work out of them.

If somehow no aspect of this violates the TOS though, then that would seem to be a fundamental issue with parts of the TOS that need to be updated in terms of not allowing scammy workarounds, so potentially an even larger issue.

It is not asking for free work. They are saying you WILL be paid, which is quite the opposite of demanding free work. Granted, there's a higher risk involved with the money in escrow, but at not point does the post ask people to work for nothing.


Dylan G wrote:

They ARE saying they'll close the contract without paying, .


They did not say that at all.

They said it 'forces the closure' of the contract. It does not say that THEY will be the ones closing it. It sounds to me as though they think Upwork will automatically close it.


If a client has spent over $300,000 over two rears paying money to freelancers and has a 83% hire rate... that is simply not a traditional scammer. And I'm hesitant to call them a scammer at all.

I agree there are much more prevalent and frustrating and unquestionable scams flooding the platform right now; I just don't know what else to call the refusal to fund work, the misleading and manipulation, the threat to not actually pay people for work they've done if they DO try to request payment, etc.

I think to be honest you're playing right into the hands of the manipulation/attempted workaround there. I think it's much more likely, given that they've paid out over $300,000 and must be very familiar with Upwork's systems, that it is intended to mislead freelancers who may not be aware of how the system works—not they themselves not being aware. Whatever they claim to be saying, they're saying the contract will be closed if you do that, and they are the ones who would close it, so they ARE saying they will close it.


Dylan G wrote:

Whatever they claim to be saying, they're saying the contract will be closed if you do that, and they are the ones who would close it, so they ARE saying they will close it.


They didn't say that.

You seem to be insistent on reading into things that they've just not said, despite me quoting what they DID say (which said nothing about THEM closing it).

Regardless, the Trust and Safety team, a Moderator, and several experienced freelancers have pointed out they are not breaking TOS. But, hey, you feel free to dig in.

You seem to be insistent on ignoring the context, as if the whole post isn't an attempt to try to squeeze around the TOS in order to not have to guarantee paying people.

I've been on Upwork since day one. I'm plenty experienced 🙂 Feel free to continue defending something pretty indefensible. 

egaruth
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Dylan,
 
Thank you for reaching out to us. I would like to let you know that I shared your report with our team for further review. Please note that because of security and privacy concerns, we will not be able to share the results or findings of our investigations with you.
 
I'd also like to clarify a couple of things:
 
  • If a client upgrades their job post to a “Featured Job” for a one-time fee of $29.99 they get unlimited invites for that job.
  • It's against Upwork TOS to ask for or demand free work. However, the terms of any contract are for clients and freelancers to negotiate and decide upon together. There are different ways payments can be made on Upwork and users can decide which way better fits their goals and situation.

 

Additionally, please know that identifying persons or companies (or other identifying information) in an accusation of misconduct or wrongdoing is not allowed as per Community Guidelines.
~ Nikola
Upwork

Thanks Nikola. This doesn't appear to be a case of negotiation and deciding though--it appears to be the client intentionally misleading freelancers about the nature of Upwork's systems. They specifically say if you try to get paid through Upwork's escrow system, they won't actually pay you even if you've done the work.

Again, everything about it seems in blatant contradiction to the "Escrow for Fixed-Price Jobs" rules: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211068208-Fixed-Price-Contracts-How-it-works-and-Best-P...

Re: the final part, have I by linking to the job post in some way done that? I have not mentioned any names of persons or companies in any of these posts, nor do I have such.

Ah, I see that the link to the public job post has been "edited for community guidelines" here. Pretty confused by this—it's not something private I'm sharing. They've invited 22,000 people. Is there identifying information in there? Or is the very posting of a job post link itself the problem? Can I copy/paste and anonymize (? again, not sure what needs to be anonymized) the job post into the original forum post here instead, but without link?

If this all is somehow allowed within the TOS, then where and how would be the appropriate place to raise a concern about the TOS in that regard and ideally push for change to it?