You are providing circular logic laced with a slight dig against those of us new to the site.
I always do research and everyone should. These scammers use large companies in hopes the recipient is already aware of the company so it seems legit and sometimes they use non existant companies. There is no golden rule but research helps to fill in the blanks.
I implore you to actually do research on how to properly recognize a phishing posting. It will help you understand why it is important to ALWAYS DO RESEARCH.
You are correct about what is going on.
I do not mean to imply a "slight dig" against people who are new to Upwork.
My meaning should be clear.
Here in the Forum we have seen hundreds of newbies report on how they were invited by a scammer to an invitation and, because the scammer gave them the name of a large, established company, the newbies did incredibly stupid things.
Just as you said.
So I am saying that these Upwork newbies have demonstrated that they are not able to interpret the meaning of a google search result. I do not mean you, personally. But I mean a large number of newbies who are looking for entry-level online work.
Their Google searches are getting them into trouble.
ON THE OTHER HAND.... I have completd 86 jobs on Upwork. I have never done a google search on the names of companies or clients who invite me to work, or whose job postings I apply to. I have never been scammed and I earn a large amount of money from Upwork.
Doing "research" about companies using Google has had a demonstrable negative result for so many newbies. It has no demonstrable positive outcome that I am aware of.
Please explain to me a single way in which doing a google search will benefit a newbie contractor who receives an invitation. I can think of no way in which this provides benefit.
These contractors should focus only on what the client does and says, and the information that Upwork provides about the client.
A Google search can provide valuable information for legitimate entities: individuals or companies.
However, as Preston points out, the scamsters are quite thorough and go as far as to create fake profiles and accounts.
Since 90% of my clients are lawyers and/or lawfirms, I do research them before I accept a job. Don't wanna work for no scum sucking bottom feeders. Been there. Done that.
That being said, lots of scammer do use the names of known businesses and their employees. Those are the ones Preston talks about. Researching those posts could lead you to believe that they are real posts, not scams.
My "no research" ban is really not meant for everyone. It really intended for the newbies who are so naive that when they see a fancy website and an established company show up in a Google search, their brains turn to mush and they think it is a good idea to accept checks for software and provide banking account numbers, password and pins.
There really are endless numbers of newbie contractors here who are too dim to use google without getting scammed on Upwork.
If you've not one of these newbies, then feel free to research clients and companies. I make a lot of money by NOT googling clients. But the kind of work you do may be different from what I do, and you may have a legitimate reason to research clients.
For legitimate entities, you can get valuable information from the net.
But what Preston has said is so true for newbies.
The most relevant information related to the client is to be found at Upwork: jobs award ratio, feedback from freelancers, feedback to freelances, number of job languishing without payment or closure, etc.
These data tell a freelancer a lot more than what the net has to say about the organization the client is from.
Also, as Preston points out, the scamsters are quite thorough and go as far as to create fake profiles and accounts.
The bottom line is: Googling for information about clients can provide valuable data, but the information at Upwork maybe far more relevant.
For future reference, NEVER cash a questionable check. I think, unless banking rules have changed, that the bank will charge YOU a fee (i.e. $30.00 US), for their inconvenience, and I'm not sure if it could count against you in other ways, other than, if the check bounced, the bank would just get their money back from your account (which sounds like the exact reason you said you were going to just wait until the check cleared).
About waiting until checks clear--I know banks that used to instantly make $1,000 US of a $1,000 US or more check instantly available to you, the account holder. Banks will also take funds out (let's say you bought a few items), and then, put that amount back in (temporarily) but in partial for the sole purpose of hoping that you would rely soley on the bank's records (online, via automated telephone system, etc.) instead of your own check book registry (where you record your credits and debits for your checking account.
Then, when you overdraw (let's say you're a college student with just pennies between what's truly available in your checking account and what you're needing to or have just thought to have spent), they'll do more mathematical gymnastics to ensure that charges that were cleared by you chronologically, will now have been moved around in such a way that causes the bank to make even mooooorrrreee money of your miscalculations!
Example, you go to the student cafe and buy a Snickers bar which leaves you with $3.00 US in your checking account. You then make several small purchaes and perhaps you accidentaly--in rush--forget to deduct for that Almond Joy at the local gasoline station. Well, YOUR [erroneous] calculations tell you that you have a remaining balance of $0.76 US left in your checking account, so you make a $0.75, err, donation, if you will, to yet another local gasoline station, for yet another cavity-causing, candiy confection.
Well, seeing as you purchased this...hmm...MIlky Way, on your state's (we're pretending for this example that you're a Yank) tax-free, back-to-school holiday, your Milky came up to exactly $0.75 US, leaving you with [according to your faulty records] $0.01!
Well, even IF you'd confirmed that the bank had taken out ALL of your prior charges (back when you still had all of your receipts on hand) via the banks' records--the bank could have removed one or more of those charges a few days later, so that, when you called to check your new remaining balance (because the bank "un-charged" you for something that they'd previously confirmed as having charged you for, your remaining balance is actually (unbeknownst to you) higher than, well, your reality.
So, going off the banking records, you continue to purchase things that make your dentist rich, and consume them, and then, one day you get a notice in the mail (while chomping on a Butterfinger) that you are $90.33 US negative. You have over-drafted on that forgotten bag of Reese's Pieces. Drats!
You call your bank, and you realize your error (forgot to deduct that $0.33 US charge), and while you agree that you DO owe that plus the $30.00 US over-draft fee, you have no CLUE why they charged you an additional $60.00 US!!!
The bank representative explains to you that it's for two more charges that came in that you didn't have the money in your checking account to cover. You're confused, you look over your [formerly erroneous] records, and see that you did indeed deduct and account for those charges, prior to that costly piece by Reese. Not only that, but you see that you wrote in your checking account's registry booklet that you'd called the automated number on such-and-such a date and at such-and-such a time--the bank posted the charge, i.e. counted the charge, i.e. deducted the charge, i.e. took your money! That's when the bank rep then explains, that the bank does this type of thing, and, to be merciful, the bank will, as a courtesy to you, oh loyal--but poor college student--will forgive one of those overdraft fees, but, you'll have to cough up all the rest...or farewell to your future credit report history!
Anyway, yeah, not saying that that's happened to me *cough* but, the point of the story is: NEVER play with the bank's money! The bank is like your Godfather...some individuals...you just don't mess with.
TL;DR: NEVER CASH A QUESTIONABLE CHECK--NEVVVVVVERRRRRRRRR, o' Rachel'd one, NEVERRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!
P.S. I have no clue if all (or any) of the above made any sense. I will never know, either, because I will NEVER edit all of that! Good Day!
But, J W:
You didn't answer they key question:
Whether or not it is okay to accept a check from a client to buy $2300 of office equipment.
Are these checks legitimate?
I know you already know the answer to your question.
But for everyone's reference, no - it is not okay to accept a check from a client to buy $2300 of office equipment as it is a violation of the Upwork TOS to accept payment outside the platform.
It is NEVER OK to accept payment off-platform, and, no...these checks are NEVER legit!!! LOL!
-I learned that from this forum post! :-)
*Edited because: I just read Avery's post, and didn't want to look uncool by:
...In other words, I didn't want to look like:
....Even though 100% of this "edit" and 98.7% of the rest of my post was, indeed, pointless! ;P