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How trustworthy is feedback about a client?

mlemanski
Active Member
Matt L Member Since: Aug 17, 2016
1 of 25

The other day, I received a job invite from a client who, at first glance, looks pretty decent:

 

- Member since 2013

- 89 Reviews, 4.99 stars on average

- $3,313 Total Spent

 

However, everything about the job post itself stinks of a scam. (No payment for work upfront, but "10% royalties" for my work, for which they will retain full copyright.) Lest you have any doubts, though, the client also attaches a file which includes a screenshot of a message from Upwork's Trust & Safety division, which reads in part, "please allow me to apologize for any inconvenience caused by your job posting's inadvertent removal from our Marketplace ... it appears that there was some misunderstanding from our staff as your job seems to be valid." So no need to worry!

 

Out of curiosity, I replied to the invite, asking for a little more info about the project, and was able to find out the name of the client's company (one of many names, it seems). With a few seconds of Googling, I was able to confirm certain aspects of false advertising in the client's job posting. (The sales pitch of the job post is that their "aggressive marketing strategies" will earn the freelancer up to $5000/month in royalties. Yet their company seems to have nothing but a Facebook page and a single-page website. Not particularly aggressive.)

 

What I'm really curious about, though, is how scam artists like this client manage to achieve such great reviews (89 of them!) and retain their membership for so many years. Particularly since these are the few details a freelancer is permitted to see about the client, prior to getting involved in all the anguish of lost time and money that comes with dealing with scam artists. How much faith do you put into Upwork's feedback system, when deciding to work with a client?

 

Also: what the #@!&, Trust & Safety Dept??

 

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 25

Feedback about a CLIENT?

 

Meh.

 

It might be accurate. It might not be.

 

What is more important is if the client pays you as expected.

 

If you agree to a small contact, and the client is good to work with and you receive payment as expected, then that's a good client. If not, then that's probably a client you should avoid.

 

Will I work for a client who has no feedback or job history?

Yes.

 

Will I work for a client whose job history shows some dissatisfied contractors?

Yes, usually. Because I'm not like most contractors, so if there were problems between the client and past contractors it doesn't mean those problems will apply to me as well.

 

Will I work for a client who has a significant feedback history, and it's almost all bad?

No.

karandrakis
Ace Contributor
Keri K Member Since: Jun 1, 2016
3 of 25

Re: the Trust and Safety message... Photoshop is a thing.

sam-sly
Community Guru
Samantha S Member Since: Jun 23, 2016
4 of 25
I have noticed some clients pay certain types of freelancers better than others. They also may get better feedback from some types. For example, they may value their developers but not their writers. Or they may value their writers, but not their designers. So you do need to look at feedback from contractors in your line of work to get an idea. Also I look at the freelancers profile to see if they have an obvious pattern. It could be that they spent a lot of money on another type of contractor and those contractors gave the positive feedback. I would not accept a royalty based position here. I have affiliate ads on my personal blog, so I am no stranger to working for commissions. But that is not what I am looking for here. I would hesitate to believe any promises of royalties or commissions. The only time I would consider it is if the upfront pay is enough to make the job worthwhile. I don't think this platform is really set up for commission/royalty based work. Apparently, open inactive contracts eventually hurt our JSS. but the client would need an open contract to be able to pay you here. I don't see how Upwork would be a good platform for "passive" or "residual" income. I would suspect it is a way for the client to avoid upfront pay. But that is just my opinion, I would run the other way.
sam-sly
Community Guru
Samantha S Member Since: Jun 23, 2016
5 of 25

Another possibility. I was surprised to learn there are marketplaces where people buy existing freelancer or client accounts (on various platforms). It could be this scammer client may have bought an account from someone else. I don't really know why people are willing to put their name on the line in this way, but it apparently happens. I have seen jobs here asking people to set up real looking LinkedIn accounts, to get over 500 real connections, and to get x number endorsements from real users then sell the account to them.   I am perplexed how a false account get 500 strangers to connect and even more surprised any of these connections would endorse someone they never met. I can only imagine their endgame is to scam someone with these fake "real looking' LinkedIn accounts.

 

I would not be surprised if the same happens with UpWork client accounts. I always wonder what these people could accomplish if they spent the time doing something useful. 

mthornton-cpc
Community Guru
Melissa T Member Since: Dec 5, 2014
6 of 25

Samantha nailed it. 

khurram4m
Community Guru
Khurram J Member Since: Nov 24, 2015
7 of 25

@Samantha S wrote:

 

I would not be surprised if the same happens with UpWork client accounts. I always wonder what these people could accomplish if they spent the time doing something useful. 


 Most of the criminals are highly inteligent people but unfortunatly they can't think straight thats how their brain works always looking for back doors and shortcuts 

mlemanski
Active Member
Matt L Member Since: Aug 17, 2016
8 of 25

Hi Samantha! That's an interesting theory. But I agree that it seems like too much effort on the scammer's part.

 

Looking at the client's feedback again, I notice that it's a lot of the same job titles posted again and again (none related to writing though), with payments ranging from $1-$100 (and yet nowhere near $5000). The feedback goes back to Feb 2016, but the count doesn't add up to 89 reviews (as listed at the top of the "About the Client" sidebar).

 

But I'm still mystified about the rationale. I can't imagine that someone would spend 6 months gathering fake Upwork reviews, when they don't even take the time to develop a fake website for their company. And the freelancers appear to be real, with an extensive history of other jobs and clients. They all give a full 5 stars to this scammer (with non-specific comments, but enthusiastic words - "superb," "wonderful experience," "amazing," "great client" - and varied lengths and writing styles). Also, it's a whole lot more effort than buying fake connections on LinkedIn, since there's money involved.

 

It's all very strange. I suppose the profile could have changed hands, but the tone (and names) of the client seem much the same for the whole time period (Feb 2016 to now).

 

 

sam-sly
Community Guru
Samantha S Member Since: Jun 23, 2016
9 of 25

@Matt L wrote:

Hi Samantha! That's an interesting theory. But I agree that it seems like too much effort on the scammer's part.

 -----

 

In the scenario where the client buys an account... I am surprised, but this happens (i.e. the LinkedIn example). More likely what happens is that the original account holder was a legitimate client. He or she just was not successful at running their business. When they went out of business, they saw an opportunity to sell their account to the scammer. 

 

But this type of thing happens sometimes, one of the big clues is that the account holder's behavior changes almost like it isn't the same person. Well, because it is not. I don't know whether people buy client accounts here, it would not surprise me since so many scammers flock to this site. What I don't understand is why a legitimate client or freelancer would sell their account since it is in their name.

 

This is actually pretty common on the freelancer/worker end. In another platform's community, someone mentioned this because they worked with someone that had great history, great samples, was ID verified, an American then their work had a lot of mistakes common to someone learning English. Things like weird plurals, missing articles, etc. It was more than typos. It turned out the American freelancer sold her account to someone from another country. That particular platform only accepts people who are citizens or legal residents to the USA. Someone shared a link to apublic Facebook page where people buy and sell accounts. There were a lot  of accounts on various platforms for sale (if true, I would not put it past the scammers to scam other scammers). Of course, this could also be the result of a compromised or hacked account. And I also would not put it past such people to sell hacked accounts.

 

Between this and the LinkedIn accont job I saw listed, it seems like this is surprisingly common. Though it seems a lot of effort for little reward. (By the way, I did flag the LinkedIn job, I was searching for jobs involving the keyword "LinkedIn" when I happened to see it, I haven't checked on whether it was removed).

 

 

mlemanski
Active Member
Matt L Member Since: Aug 17, 2016
10 of 25

@Samantha. I don't see any indications that the account could have been sold or hacked. The client's behavior seems pretty consistent:

 

- request "expert level" freelancers, always

- post fixed-price gigs (sometimes estimated at $5, sometimes $100)

- BUT pay insanely low rates ($1 - $15 mostly, even for the $100 gigs)

- repost a lot of the same job titles and descriptions (basically no details)

- use the same two names for the past 6 months

- earn 5-star feedback EVERY time

 

Is client feedback meaningless, or is this particular scammer absolutely amazing? I'm almost tempted to work for them, just to find out.

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