» Forums » Freelancers » Proposal
Page options
Community Member

How to Spot a Scam

Hi Folks,

yesterday there was a job posted on Upwork that appealed to me so I sent a proposal. I got a reply that just asked me to add some person's name to my Skype and wait for instructions. The reply was from (names changed) someone called Sammy who said I should wait to hear from someone called Julie. And the Skype name was someone called Margarette. So it seems that person A told me to contact person B via the Skype handle of person C.

I haven't heard back yet, but should I be cautious? The only reason I'm asking is because I'm quite new to this platform, which means I'm still a bit wet behind the ears.

Thanks in advance,


Community Member

You should always be cautious, yes.  Just make sure you have an active contract on Upwork before you do anything, and never accept any payment off the platform.  


Does the client have feedback?  Hiring history?

View solution in original post

Community Member

You should always be cautious, yes.  Just make sure you have an active contract on Upwork before you do anything, and never accept any payment off the platform.  


Does the client have feedback?  Hiring history?

Thanks Christy,


I forget to mention that there was no client feedback. Payment method is not verified and it's the only job the client has posted. Not that there's anything wrong with any of these things, but something doesn't feel right, hence this post.



Yep, run away from that one.  

@Andy H wrote:

Thanks Christy,


I forget to mention that there was no client feedback. Payment method is not verified and it's the only job the client has posted. Not that there's anything wrong with any of these things, but something doesn't feel right, hence this post.




Hey, Christy!


i actually have a question, as I am a newer freelancer on Upwork. I recently received an invitation via a position I applied for. The entity asked me to email them my resume directly to them (even though I attached it in my proposal). I did this, & received a questionnaire to complete that furthermore highlights my background/experience & behavior in a work environment. I have been instructed to email this questionnaire directly back also. Shouldn't all correspondence technically be on the Upwork platform only? There was company logo on the email originally sent to me, so I called the phone number asking to verify the employment of the person that sent me the email. They confirmed his existence, but I still am apprehensive, just because I'm being asked to complete a questionnaire off of the Upwork platform. Any advice?

Hi Alexis,


Thank you for reaching out. Please know that it is against ToS to communicate outside Upwork if there's no contract in place yet. Please review the tips for avoiding questionable jobs here and you may report any suspicious user activity by flagging them to us.

~ AJ
Community Member

Probablly a scam.  Make sure you understand the TOS completely.  Don't ever agree to the client mailing a check for "supplies" or somesuch.  As you are new, all communication and, of course, all payments must go through Upwork.

Thanks Mary. Yes, I agree, all communiction, espcially early on, should go through Upwork.


Are there a lot of scammers on Upwork then, and if yes, what are they trying to acheive?



I am new in upwork and today I think I got scammed. Somebody interviewed me via Skype saying they are going to send me check to buy equipment. And I gave them my name, address, phone number and signed the job acceptance letter. Can they steal anything through the information I gave? I regret it now.

Hi Debby, yes, this is a scam and you have violated Upwork's ToS a few times already in order to participate in it. So the first thing to do would be to stop any communication with these people and of course do not deposit any checks. You cannot exchange contact information to communicate with clients outside Upwork before you have signed an Upwork contract. You also cannot accept payment outside Upwork at any time. These are serious violations that can result in an account suspension, not to mention the consequences of being scammed out of your money if the scammers succeed, so you may want to reread Upwork's ToS and the resources on how to stay safe while using Upwork.

The same thing happened to me how can I stop this

Scammers prey on new freelancers who are unlikely to be hired by real clients. If you want to improve your chances, spend at least a whole day learning how to use Upwork and make improvements to your profile so that it looks like you're a serious person with valuable skills. 

Hi Debby,


I'd like to confirm that Sarah is right. Communication outside Upwork is not allowed before a contract is placed. I encourage you to read this announcement for more information. I'd also like to check this for you. Please send me a PM by clicking on my name, and kindly share more information. 

~ Joanne

I've had this sort of scam before but not through Upwork. I'm new here, too. If you receive a check in the mail whatever you do, destroy it. Don't send it back, don't cash it in. Destroy it or another option is to report it to the police so they can locate who the scammer is. I did this when I got scammed, the police officer called the number I was given and as soon as he said he was a police officer, they hung up. I never heard from them again. 

Community Member

Real clients don't tell you to add them on skype and "wait for instructions." What is that? Make an appointment with me or get bent.

Thanks Jennifer.


I have been invited to an interview via Skype before, so didn't think it too suspicious. It was the bit that said "Please add Name on Skype for guidelines" that didn't feel right. I mean, no one has awarded the job to me yet, so the "guidelines" sounded a bit odd.

Anyway, I will keep you updated and see what comes of it. I will or course proceed with caution after reading these responses.

Thanks everyone,


Are you a professional or just a grunt? Unless I'm free at the moment, people who need to talk to me can make an appointment. I don't "go on skype and wait for instructions."

They didn't mean for me to sit at the computer waiting for a Skype contact. They wanted me to add the person's name to my Skype so that they could send some kind of guidelines or instructions. As I say, I'm quite new to Upwork so I'm unfamiliar with how some clients might like to work. I do know that other people prefer different channels of communication, so the Skype request per se didn't raise any alarm bells. It was the three names in a short message that felt odd.

Anyway, I know now. If anyone requests anything that is outside of the Upwork platform I will decline the request and withdraw the proposal.


Hi Andy, welcome to Upwork!


Based on the information you've shared here, the interview process does sound questionable but there's no way to confirm at this point if this is a scam or not. In addition to looking for the warning signs like the ones you mentioned, there are other more relevant factors/steps you should consider when evaluating a prospective client. These include but are not limited to the following:

- making sure not to start working unless you have an active contract on Upwork,

- use Upwork Protection Programs and

- only accept to get paid through the platform. 


To help you work safely on Upwork, please have a look at tips and warning signs shared in this thread and Upwork Trust & Safety FAQ.


You can find valuable information in the Getting Started as a Freelancer section of the Help Center and in our Freelancer Guide. I also suggest watching our educational videos and reading the best practice advice shared by other users:


Freelancer Tutorial Videos

Want to get that first job? Then check this out...

Proposal Workshop Video

~ Vladimir

Just starting out with Upwork.  Client is asking me to email her with a specific title in the subject line.  Can I message her within the Upwork site or do I have to use my own email.  Not clear on procedure.  Thank you.

You may use email to communicate with clients at this point in the process. Doing so does not violate any Upwork rule.


But be aware that this specific client is probably trying to scam you. Proceed with caution. Consult with us here in the forum regarding every step, because you lack the experience needed to avoid getting scammed.

Thanks for the warning

To add to what Preston has advised ... do not start any work until the client has officially awarded the job to you.

Thanks Vladimir,

Yes, I have read all the Upwork material early on in my membership. I'm glad I posted here because there are perhaps little tricks that go on that others are more aware of than I am. It also seems that the approach by this potential client is a little odd, as confirmed by others. Even so, there is nothing thus far to suggest it's a blatant scam. That's why have withheld specifics.

Anyway, I have not heard back from them yet. I will update this thread if or when I do hear something from this person or these people.


Community Member

Andy - communication via Skype is common as well as communicating through personal email and even a phone call.


What defines a scam is:

1. if the client tells you, you're hired but doesn't or refuses to hire you through this site,

2. if the client asks for your address because they want to send you a check. (All financial transactions MUST be done on this site)

3. if the client wants to deposit money into your PayPal account. (see #2)

4. if the client says you need to pay for equipment or supplies for this job.

5. if the client asks for ANY type of personal information such as your social security number, bank account information/numbers, Paypal or credit card account numbers, passport information, and even your address (unless there are materials that they need to send to you for you to complete the job you applied to, such as a box of business cards to be entered into Excel.


And make sure that escrow is funded AND the clients account is verified BEFORE you start working no matter what the client may tell you, promise you or try to convince you.


If you're not sure, before accepting anything, or doing anything just come on here and ask.


Skype is used all the time by quality, professional clients and contractors who meet via Upwork.


BUT, the pattern you described with multiple people, no clear schedule, asking to be added to your Skype contact list, etc... these things almost certainly mark this "client" (or group of "clients") as scammers who just want to waste your time and trick you into giving them money, free work, or personal identity information.


As Vladimir pointed out, we don't know for certain.


If it was me, I would certainly be willing to communicate with them via Skype, and to have a BRIEF interview with somebody in order to discuss final details about starting a job.


BUT I know what I'm doing. I know what constitutes a scam and what is legitimate.

If you feel like you're really new here and don't know what to watch out for, then just stop communicating with these people entirely.


If you feel like you have read enough and know enough to avoid getting scammed, then go ahead and participate in a Skype interview. But as soon as ANYTHING sounds fishy, tell them:



As I'm sure you understand, I have to be careful about clients I dont know. But I can tell that you are an honest client and I am willing to work on this project for you. Go ahead and send me an Upwork hourly contract using the Hire button. I'll accept it and I will get started on doing the work or on getting any more training that you want to provide."


And that's it.


That's the message. No matter what else they say to you, you tell them that sounds fine, and you'll continue with them after a contract is in place, and you'll log any more time you spend with them using the contract.


If they're serious, they'll send you a contract. If they are scammers, they won't.


This is really what I do in my own work. Sometimes clients contact me and they aren't really clear about what they need, and I just ask them to send an Upwork contract using the Hire button. Some of them never do, and I don't talk to them any more until they do. Some of them quickly send a contract, and sometimes they just want to chat with me or talk to me on Skype or whatever. And I bill them for all the time we spend doing so, and they're happy with that.

Has anyone worked with **Edited for Community Guidelines**? I can't tell if it is legit. 


You should never ask about a company or client by name like that.


The names will just be deleted from your post.


And if you are asking about a client's name or a company's name, it means you do not understand how scammers work and how legitimate jobs on Upwork work.


Do not look at the name. Do not google the name. Do not ask us about the name.


Scammers copy the names of real companies and real clients.


If you are a newbie, and you received an invite from a client, and you googled the name of the company and were impressed by it, then you're probably being scammed. That's how these scams work.


ONLY look at their Upwork information. And consider what they are asking you to do.


If the client is asking you to do legitimate work that you know how to do, and they're offering to pay you for that work through an Upwork contract, and they are NOT asking you to violate Upwork rule, then it's legitimate.


NO COMPANY is "legitimate" because of its name. NO JOB posting is legitimate because of the name associated with the posting.

All good points, thanks Preston.

So far my clients have all been wonderful, responsive, and genuine. But I agree that it's important to understand that perhaps not everyone will always be like that. I think I've planted the seed of caution now. After reading yours, and other replies here, there are some logical steps to take and things to be weary of.


Community Member

Good reminders Kathy, thank you very much for posting 😉



Hi Folks,


Here's an update on that dodgy sounding job.  I got a Skype message that just said "Hello Andy". I replied asking for the guidelines as per their previous message. I never heard anything back after that and my proposal was delined by the client. I can see that their job posting is still live though.


I won't waste my time jobs like this in future. We live and learn.



Community Member

I'm new here as well. Should we stay away from unverified payment methods?

re: "Should we stay away from unverified payment methods?"


You may choose to do that if you want to.


I don't.


I don't pay any attention to payment verified status when I send a proposal to jobs or respond to invites.


Before I actually start working on a job, I make sure the client gets payment verified.


I have earned a lot of money working for clients who did not start out payment verified, but became such.

Janice C wrote:

I'm new here as well. Should we stay away from unverified payment methods?

It's your decision, but I don't see any reason why y'all should. 

Do you know if anyone has been hired via telegram app? Or would you be interviewed through Upwork. I think I'm being scammed. 

Hi Erin, yes you are being scammed. 


A couple of things: Upwork's TOS expressly prohibits communicating or providing contact information (including Telegram user name, etc.) to clients UNTIL you have accepted an offer through Upwork and have an active contract on Upwork. Scammers are betting you haven't fully read the TOS so they can get you off platform and steal from you. 


Also be aware, just a reminder, never accept ANY kind of payment for ANYTHING off platform. Scammers try to make it seem like a reimbursement check to buy a laptop or supplies - that will NEVER come through a check. All payments, including reimbursements must go through Upwork. 


Read the getting started help pages thoroughly before sending any more proposals so you understand how to stay safe. 


And...go back to the job post and report it for asking to communicate off platform so they can deal with that scammer. Thanks!

Latest Articles
Featured Topics
Learning Paths