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al-anani
Community Member

Client chargeback request of $12,500 after one year.

Hi!

I worked for a client a year ago, and we finished alot of work together with different people creating websites, etc.

I used to record all hours manually as they’re mostly calls and communication, as I’m a project manager.

Now, one year later, Upwork is sending me an email that the bank is requesting a chargeback of more than $12,500 from my contract one year ago.

Then a few more freelancers who used to work with the same client contacted me and told me Upwork informed them with the same thing but with different amounts. I have a feeling that this client was a fraud or using another person’s account, or went broke.

Whatever the reason is, doesn’t matter. Upwork now is asking for proof of my work, which I sent, to TRY to tell the bank that those charges were done for freelancers who actually worked on something. But they also said the final decision will be the bank’s. So I feel my odds are not too great.

I contacted this client and he informed me he didnt do any chargebacks, validating my theory abit more that he is a fraud or broke.

The problem is, Upwork is freezing my withdrawals from my account till I pay the $12,560.

I do not have this amount, and I do not know what to do.

All of this is because according to Upwork, I did not log in the hours with their software and did it manually instead.

This is demotivating me from this platform after 3 years full time of working on it and being Top Rated Plus.

If anyone has any advice, please share.

Also a couple of questions, what if I refuse to pay even after the bank decided that they want the money back, does that put me in a bad legal position or could only lead to my account being banned?

If my theory is proven correct and this client was actually using another person’s card, shouldn’t that put Upwork the least bit accountable for anything?

The process of speaking to a bank could take 45 days, so I’ll just sit and do nothing till then.

Kindly advise,
Thanks,
Al
137 REPLIES 137
petra_r
Community Member


M A wrote:

Frankly, in both cases, that is supposed to be Upwork's responsibility of vetting him before allowing him to hire me


Where did you get that idea from? They verify the payment method. 

 

I completely get that this sucks incredibly, but you really are directing your anger and disappointment at (and are trying to manipulate) the wrong party. Chargebacks are, unfortunately, a fact of life. Yours was HUGE. But to date, you haven't even paid any of it.  Upwork have paid it. They're the victim here at this point.

al-anani
Community Member

I agree, chargebacks are and always will be there.

 

If they had verified the payment method. Then simply put, any client could ask for any money they invested in any freelancer back in a year or so from their bank, and Upwork will have to return it, which wouldn't be fair. So it's a win-win for any client, and a prayer for each freelancer.

petra_r
Community Member


M A wrote:

I agree, chargebacks are and always will be there.

If they had verified the payment method.


They did verify the payment method. Otherwise you would never have been paid anything.

 


M A wrote:

Any client could ask for any money they invested in any freelancer back in a year or so from their bank, and Upwork will have to return it, which wouldn't be fair.


I think you are missing a very important point here: The money has been taken from Upwork. They had no say in the matter. When a chargeback is done, the money vanishes from the account of the person or company.  Upwork tried to defend the chargeback, but were unsuccessful. They did not get the money back.

 


M A wrote:

...which wouldn't be fair. So it's a win-win for any client, and a prayer for each freelancer.


But you haven't paid any of it back. You keep trying to project an image of a victim who lost so much money, when the only party who actually lost those $12.500 is Upwork.

How's that "fair"?

al-anani
Community Member

Upwork is a multi-billion company Petra, they have insurance for such cases. If they don't have that, then they should. The backbone of their company is their freelancers. If there's no security for them, then this is a huge flaw that the freelancers and Upwork should be aware of.

 

I'm a full-time freelancer on Upwork, Petra. The day I received this email. This means I'm unemployed. Whether you believe it or not, I am a victim at that moment as they cut off my entire work supply by freezing my ability to withdraw. How is that fair? 

 

They could've increased their commission to 30-40% as well, till the amount is covered. But asking me to work all those hours, as a full-time Upwork freelancer, is not the best way.

 

Thank you!

Upwork has no insurance against business losses, no company has. If that were insurable, no company  would ever go bankrupt due to clients not paying, only insurance companies would. 


Martina P wrote:

Upwork has no insurance against business losses, no company has. If that were insurable, no company  would ever go bankrupt due to clients not paying, only insurance companies would. 


It is insurable, there is such a thing as "chargeback insurance" - but such insurance is prohibitively expensive. If a freelancer wants to have insurance against chargebacks, they have to take out such insurance themselves. It is completely irrational to expect a payment processor to do so.

 

Freelancers are independent businesses, not employees. 

It gets difficult when people want to be freelancers when it all goes well, but expect to be protected from the realities of being an independent business.

 

You can't have it both ways.

You will go mad listening to "gurus" on here. The only good advice is consulting a lawyer, which should have been done as early as possible. Even if a lawyer can negotiate a lower amount, that will leave you on better terms.**Edited for Community Guidelines**


RaeAnna S wrote:

You will go mad listening to "gurus" on here. The only good advice is consulting a lawyer, which should have been done as early as possible. Even if a lawyer can negotiate a lower amount, that will leave you on better terms. **Edited for Community Guidelines**


**Edited for Community Guidelines** "Guru" is a title that automatically activates Upwork when you've commented a certain number of times. **Edited for Community Guidelines**
On the other hand, the topic that OP has raised here is very interesting because it can happen to anyone, that's why I think there is so much discussion. OP is answering very patiently. This helps everyone.
This does not mean that there are some people who think that there is something shady here.
**Edited for Community Guidelines**


RaeAnna S wrote:

You will go mad listening to "gurus" on here. The only good advice is consulting a lawyer, which should have been done as early as possible. Even if a lawyer can negotiate a lower amount, that will leave you on better terms. Be careful of those who dont work on Upwork but comment on the threads all of the time!


RaeAnna, I won't name names, but I happen to be a guru and there are some who drive me mad, and others who are knowledgeable and give useful advice, and everything in between. Likewise, there are some prolific forum participants who also earn prolifically as freelancers, presumably because of superior time management skills, but I don't think it's fair to make a blanket statement about Upwork gurus because it's a diverse group, and my experience both reading posts & posting here is that there are plenty of contributors, gurus and otherwise, with a genuine desire to help, though they may have differences of opinion and different ways of expressing themselves. For example, I personally prefer getting to the point to beating around the bush, but some people could find that abrasive.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce

 


M A wrote:

 

The client being super nice, is irrelevent to him being fraudulent. Frankly, in both cases, that is supposed to be Upwork's responsibility of vetting him before allowing him to hire me for over 1500 hours, and then asking me back for third of that.

 


I'm sincerely sorry that this happened to you, but I'm curious as to what kind of vetting Upwork could have done in this case, apart from verifying that the credit card payments were going through (which they did, for two years?). You met the client yourself, worked side-by-side with him and thought that he was a nice guy for months on end, so if you didn't see any indications that he was a fraud, how was Upwork supposed to know?

 

If he was using a stolen credit card, it seems odd that the rightful card owner didn't notice tens of thousands of dollars in payments going through, over a period of two years. Any thoughts on how that happened?

 

 

Hellp Christine!

 

Thank you for your comment. Except from confirming as you said, there's nothing Upwork could've done.

 

I never imagined him to do this, yet at the end of the day, he is not the first nor the last person like that.

 

He lives in Zurich, Christine. He deals with very very wealthy clients. To them, a $30k annual deduction from their credit card, is equivalent to a $3 annual deduction from yours. 

Thanks!

petra_r
Community Member


M A wrote:

He lives in Zurich, Christine. He deals with very very wealthy clients. To them, a $30k annual deduction from their credit card, is equivalent to a $3 annual deduction from yours.


Was he using the credit card of one of his clients??

al-anani
Community Member

Send Upwork a message asking them about the credit card owner. It might have been one of his clients. It might have been the US president. That's not my information or data to assess.

petra_r
Community Member


M A wrote:

Send Upwork a message asking them about the credit card owner. It might have been one of his clients. It might have been the US president. That's not my information or data to assess.


So why bring that up? It's you who said "To them, a $30k annual deduction from their credit card, is equivalent to a $3 annual deduction from yours."

It's pretty easy to swim in money if it's all stolen. 

al-anani
Community Member

Hello Petra 😀,

I'm responding to Christine who was asking how would someone not notice a few thousand deducted from their credit card. 

 

Thanks!


M A wrote:

Send Upwork a message asking them about the credit card owner. It might have been one of his clients. It might have been the US president. That's not my information or data to assess.


Aren't you curious, though? If it were me, and the client lived in the same town as I do, and I knew where their offices are and presumably know some of their clients, colleagues and business dealings, I would do some digging and see whether I can find any leverage to get my money back. If this is somebody who has a lot of wealthy clients, you'd think that he'd value his reputation and not want to be known as a fraud. The local media might even be interested in your story. At the very least, are you able to force him to stop using or benefitting from any of the work that you did over the past two years? And if he ripped off other freelancers, you could club together on a lawyer.

 

 

Hi Christine,

 

Of course, I am curious. Specifically to know the credit card owner. I would want to meet that person and ask a few questions. But that person is also a victim. 

I had very dark thoughts on that matter. But I decided that this amount is not going to change my personality to blackmail or threaten him.

There are a lot of thoughts on what to do. My whole point is that this situation should never have happened on Upwork, and I hope it never happens to anyone else, hence, me spreading the message. Job security is the missing factor here, that a person in a corporate job would never have a problem with.

 

Thanks.


M A wrote:

I had very dark thoughts on that matter. But I decided that this amount is not going to change my personality to blackmail or threaten him.

 


So you're all zen about letting the client skate, while investing considerable time and energy blaming Upwork, who are also victims of this fraudster. Something doesn't add up here.

 


M A wrote:

Job security is the missing factor here, that a person in a corporate job would never have a problem with.


You're right, you're not in a corporate job, and freelancers don't have job security. Surely these are facts that freelancers are already aware of (or should be)?

 

I'm not zen about letting the client skate. I'm choosing not to be part of solving a problem that Upwork created through actively getting involved with a fraudulent person that they linked me to for two years.

 

There is such thing as job security, and then there's the fact that any client on this platform could ask for a chargeback anytime within a year regardless of what any freelancer worked on. That's unfair.


M A wrote:

I'm not zen about letting the client skate. I'm choosing not to be part of solving a problem that Upwork created through actively getting involved with a fraudulent person that they linked me to for two years.

 


Upwork provided the platform through which you met this person, but it was you who chose to work with him for two years. You act as though you had no free will in this situation. And I should think that you might be interested in solving the problem, since it is - after all - your problem, and it sounds like you have the ways and means to solve it if you choose.

 

You say you have a non-disclosure agreement, but come on - I find it hard to believe that a criminal who stole a credit card and ripped off several freelancers is going to take you to court. (That would be a super-cool way to get out of all crimes of this nature, really - make your victim sign an NDA before you rob them, then they won't be able to report it.) If you haven't already consulted a lawyer, why not?

 

Hi Christine,

Till this moment, I'm hoping I don't have to get as far as legal consultation. I'm hoping that Upwork has some sort of solution. Again, I don't own a company that sold someone a product. I'm simply a freelancer who knows how to do something. I never thought I'd have to go to a separate lawyer or solve a situation like this.

 

You are absolutely right, I could try to solve it here. However, this is going to cost quite a good amount as well, which is why I'm looking at this as a last-minute solution. 

 

Christine, I don't want you to get the impression that I don't like Upwork. I'm saying it again, Upwork made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for that. I only believe, as a business analyst, since that's my job, that their operations and customer support could improve drastically. I've invited a few people to Upwork, and they all made over $100k each. I'm a promoter of the platform.

 

That's why it's my responsibility to say that there is a problem with Upwork. If you believe this taints the beautiful image of Upwork, then it should. The night is darkest just before dawn.

I'm hoping they would see this, and try to improve it as to not cause any other freelance psychological pain that I personally felt in the process.

 

If they never work it out, I will go to a lawyer and do exactly as you said. I'll even sue the guy for all the time that I've been here not working on Upwork, since I could've been working. I'll be very fair. I'll also update all my articles accordingly.

 

Yet, I need to hear from Upwork that they understand that they've made a mistake by allowing a person to put someone else's credit card for a couple of years and that they will not allow this to happen again.

 

Thank you for all your comments, Christine - I know they're targeted towards further understanding the situation and showcasing it to others.


M A wrote:

Thank you for all your comments, Christine - I know they're targeted towards further understanding the situation and showcasing it to others.


Not really - it's partly because I've been at home ill for the past 10 days and don't have the inclination to do anything useful (full disclosure), but mainly because I've had clients who've tried to rip me off before, and it really infuriates me. It wasn't even close to the kind of money that you're dealing with; it was the principle of the thing.

 

So listen, M (can I call you M?). If you PM me this guy's details, I bet I could get your money for you. Serious offer. Let's do this.

 

😂, Thank you, Christine. I actually mean this "Thank you" this time. I'll strike a deal with you.

If:-

1. Upwork doesn't resolve this.

2. I don't resolve this legally here in Switzerland, since he's also in Switzerland as far as I know.

3. I'll send over his information to you, and I'd be extremely grateful for any support from your end.

 

Let's be honest, if Upwork doesn't help, what would be reasonable is to go to a local lawyer, not an Upwork community member I just texted. (No offense intended whatsoever.)

 

Again, lots of thanks to you. Christine!

Thanks!


M A wrote:

 

If:-

1. Upwork doesn't resolve this.


I've read your blog post and skimmed this thread. The situation certainly sucks, but I'm unclear why you would still expect Upwork to do anything more than what you say they've already done. The bank took the money back from Upwork. You said UW tried to appeal it and failed, which doesn't surprise me at all since this seems to be a stolen card thing rather than an unhappy client thing. Now they're doing the same thing any payment processor would do—coming to you for reimbursement. 

 

Again, it sucks, but this is a business risk that every freelancer or business runs when they take credit card payments (and most if not all other payment methods). It doesn't matter if payment is coming through Upwork, Stripe, PayPal, Fiverr, whatever. If an appeal fails (if they even try on your behalf), they'll come to the freelancer for reimbursement, and probably with less patience than Upwork seems to have shown here.

 

As others have said, your focus at this point should be on recovery from the client, not Upwork. Good luck.

I have read the blog and the whole thread and there are really things that do not fit me and that they have already commented to you. But what doesn't add up to me at all is that you haven't transferred all your complaints to "Robin" and made him pay what HE owes you (not Upwork).
Upwork cannot do more than he has done in these cases and asks you, horrible but normal, to pay the overdraft that this chargeback has generated.

 

So a direct question. Have you asked Robin to pay you the money he owes you?
Because you seem to be waiting for Upwork to do something else to make up your mind, and Upwork isn't going to do anything else, it can't do it.

Of course, I did, numerous times, Maria! He has committed fraud, and he has no intention of returning this money. He's kept telling me for months that he will sort this problem out. Yet, it's pure procrastination. He's not a very "good" person. 

 

I refuse to speak to him anymore as this has been ongoing for more than a year. The more I read from the comments on the blog, I'm more and more convinced to pursue legal action. Yet, I even had a short consultation today. In order to start such a process here in Zurich, I need a budget of $6k as lawyer fees that might be returned to me or not depending on the case.

This is half the amount that Upwork wants.

 

So not only do I have my work frozen on Upwork, but also I have to invest a further $6k in order to resolve this problem.

 

Hence, you understand my frustration and my situation.


M A wrote:

Of course, I did, numerous times, Maria! He has committed fraud, and he has no intention of returning this money. He's kept telling me for months that he will sort this problem out. Yet, it's pure procrastination. He's not a very "good" person. 

 

I refuse to speak to him anymore as this has been ongoing for more than a year. The more I read from the comments on the blog, I'm more and more convinced to pursue legal action. Yet, I even had a short consultation today. In order to start such a process here in Zurich, I need a budget of $6k as lawyer fees that might be returned to me or not depending on the case.

This is half the amount that Upwork wants.

 

So not only do I have my work frozen on Upwork, but also I have to invest a further $6k in order to resolve this problem.

 

Hence, you understand my frustration and my situation.


Then, you are going to have to change the title of your profile again, submit proposals and get the debt paid.
It seems that your work is well accepted and you get paid well. Surely if you had continued working, it is possible that your debt was already paid. Meanwhile you can pursue, but seriously, Robin to pay you.

 

And I mean, to do it seriously. Don't call him on the phone and tell him to pay you. I suppose, as they already told you, that he would not like other people there to know that he is a fraud, right?

 

But most of all, stop blaming Upwork and expecting them to do something more and blame your client for who he is, a scoundrel.

How do you suppose I'll find time to submit proposals and work to make those $12.5k if I'll need to actually find a job to pay my own rent and living?

I blame my client 100%.

I blame Upwork as well because they allowed him to use another person's credit card for a couple of years. They should have a stronger verification process. Because, what happened was that, at the end of the day, the bank came to them and told them that the credit card belongs to someone else. At this second, they should've claimed responsibility and apologized for not verifying the card holder's information. & If they had verified it, then the bank's client was willingly putting his credit card on Upwork to be used, then he's not entitled to a chargeback unless he has good grounds for it.

 

You see. It's incorrect. It's a mistake. It's unethical.

If you ask me for my ID when I join in on the platform and verify my Paypal account and or the bank account for a name mismatch, then for heaven's sake at least do the same with your clients. They should be treated exactly as freelancers. 

 

Thank you for your comments, Maria.


M A wrote:

How do you suppose I'll find time to submit proposals and work to make those $12.5k if I'll need to actually find a job to pay my own rent and living?

I blame my client 100%.

I blame Upwork as well because they allowed him to use another person's credit card for a couple of years. They should have a stronger verification process. Because, what happened was that, at the end of the day, the bank came to them and told them that the credit card belongs to someone else. At this second, they should've claimed responsibility and apologized for not verifying the card holder's information. & If they had verified it, then the bank's client was willingly putting his credit card on Upwork to be used, then he's not entitled to a chargeback unless he has good grounds for it.

 

You see. It's incorrect. It's a mistake. It's unethical.

If you ask me for my ID when I join in on the platform and verify my Paypal account and or the bank account for a name mismatch, then for heaven's sake at least do the same with your clients. They should be treated exactly as freelancers. 

 

Thank you for your comments, Maria.


You are still the same, headed with your version.
Upwork has been processing the payments for that card for years without any problem !!, the problem is your client and the owner of the card, who would have to explain to you what a scam they had set up and that it ended badly, and now they want to get their money back.

No matter how you look at it, your client had free access to that card, because if not, how is it possible that $ 38,000 has been charged and the owner did not realize it? And the excuse that "they are so rich" doesn't work for me.

re: "If it were me, and the client lived in the same town as I do, and I knew where their offices are and presumably know some of their clients, colleagues and business dealings, I would do some digging and see whether I can find any leverage to get my money back"

 

Seems like there is indeed potential for a lot of leverage.

 

If a woman named Francine worked for a client named Hans, and Hans ripped Francine off... and Francine knows who Hans was working for... Then wouldn't Hans be worried that Francine would go to Hans' clients and ask them for her money? Would he not be worried that she would go to them and tell them the whole sordid story about how Hans used a client's credit card fraudulently and ripped her off to the tune of thousands of dollars? 


Preston H wrote:

Would he not be worried that she would go to them and tell them the whole sordid story about how Hans used a client's credit card fraudulently and ripped her off to the tune of thousands of dollars? 


Francine hasn't returned that money in this case, so hasn't been ripped off.


Christine A wrote: I would do some digging and see whether I can find any leverage to get my money back.

Christine, he hasn't LOST any money....

al-anani
Community Member

Petra, at the moment of this writing, I have to pay back this money. I wouldn't even be surprised if Upwork would go legal on this and ask me to pay back this amount of money. Thereby, at this moment, this is a debt that I have to pay. So it's exactly the same as the money that I lost. (or will lose to be accurate.)

petra_r
Community Member


M A wrote:

Petra, at the moment of this writing, I have to pay back this money.


But you have made absolutely sure not to pay ANYTHING back by not doing any work on Upwork. They even (up to this point where you're no trying to pressure and manipulate them with your publicity stunt) allowed you to basically work it off rather than demanding that you pay them back in one go as they are entitled to.

 

You could have cleared that debt by now or at least a good chunk of it had you wanted to.

 


M A wrote:

 I wouldn't even be surprised if Upwork would go legal on this and ask me to pay back this amount of money. 


Nor would I (be surprised) and after this latest stunt I'd be surprised if they don't. THEY are the ones who have a financial loss, and you're running all over the Internet painting that picture of you as UPWORK's victim when it's them who lost the money.

 


M A wrote:

Thereby, at this moment, this is a debt that I have to pay.


Then how about you start to pay it. You acknowledge that you owe it, you acknowledge that you have a debt, so get on with it.

 


M A wrote:

So it's exactly the same as the money that I lost. 


No, there is a world of difference between you actually not having lost a thing and having lost the money for real.

al-anani
Community Member

Petra,

 

I feel this is becoming a less constructive conversation with you, and more a stubborn one. I will write this final reply for you as I know, at the end of the day, that you're a freelancer, and you could be on my boat any day. (Please remember this.)

 

There's no publicity stunt, I talked to their support and they closed the line with me. I asked them if they mind if I post this on the web, and they said we don't mind. People should be aware of this situation. (Or do you believe I should've not said anything? and simply paid up for the hours that I honorably worked for?)

 

I could've cleared that debt, but I am, again, a full-time Upwork freelancer. If I work 100% on Upwork and they take all my earnings, I will die of hunger. (I hope you wouldn't like that. 😂)

 

I never did anything wrong, Petra. I worked for more than 1500 hours for heaven's sake. I actually sat on my computer these hours, which are equivalent to almost a year of a 40h week of a normal person, and worked, and designed, and planned.

 

Hence, it morally doesn't sound right that I pay this money back. Upwork should have support and insurance for such cases. This problem starts with me, and it won't end here. Another freelancer a year from now will be asked for $100k back, and another would be asked for $1M, they should be aware of this, both Upwork and the freelancers.

 

Again, I'm very thankful for all your comments!

Have a great day,


M A wrote:

 

 I worked for more than 1500 hours for heaven's sake. I actually sat on my computer these hours, which are equivalent to 3 years of a 40h week of a normal person, and worked, and designed, and planned.

 


I don't mean to sound argumentative, but to be clear, 1500 hours is not 3 years of a 40 hour work week. 1 year of a 40 hour work week is 2080 hours, if you don't count 2 weeks of vacation. If you do, then it's 2000 hours, for ONE year. So you the hours you worked are under a year, not 3 years worth of work. 

 

Obviously you did a lot of work for this client, but exaggerations are what get us in trouble in trying to understand a situation like this. 

Thanks Amanda, fixed that miscalculation.


Petra R wrote:

Christine A wrote: I would do some digging and see whether I can find any leverage to get my money back.

Christine, he hasn't LOST any money....


Okay fine, but he can certainly state the facts as he did in his original post in this thread; that he worked for this guy for two years, and the guy did a chargeback. Not just with him, but with other freelancers. I've had clients who've tried to rip me off before, and I knew who their business partners were, so I've gone to the client and said that I would have to let their partners know what happened. They paid up pretty quick.  You can't get done for slander or libel if it's true.

 

I just find it very weird that the OP is focussing all of his efforts on fighting with Upwork instead of fighting with the client. I mean, he names and shames Upwork in the article that he wrote, but he doesn't name the client. Why?

 

Hi Christine.

 

Thank you. The facts are the same in this thread as it is on the medium article that I wrote, as it is on the one on Hacker News, you just have to check the timestamp as things changed. Remember, this thread was before the 45-day timeframe where the bank was answering Upwork, which I learned a lot during.

 

Upwork has given me over 30 clients. They control how I talk with the client about what to say and what not to say. They take a commission from me. They have to validate that the client is not a fraudulent one. If not, then it's the same as craigslist. I'm not supposed to engage in a fistfight with the client. I'm not supposed to even contact the client outside of Upwork. This should be Upwork's responsibility. 

 

I never shamed Upwork for anything but the fact that this situation is a direct result of their lack of vetting.

 

I can't name the client on Medium as it's against their rules. I can't name him generally, because of the nondisclosure agreements. Additionally, if I take this legally, I'll obviously name him, and sue accordingly.

I'm very mad at the client, but clients come and go on Upwork. I'm disappointed at Upwork because they're not admitting that this should have not happened and that they are not taking responsibility for getting paid from another credit card for close to two years. Eventually, again, it's all about informing others, so that they might learn from such a situation.

Thanks!

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