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someanyorall
Community Member

More proactive action to deter scammers: Calling Upwork's attention!

I've been using Upwork since the oDesk days. In the recent months I began to receive job invites from clients that are most definitely scammers. They share the common features below:

- Very short job description, jus a few words like "Looking for a Chinese translator".

- Attemping to redirect freelancers to Whatsapp. A lot of them include a Whatsapp number to contact in the job invite messages. The others would do this right after I sent a proposal.

- The hourly rates or fixed budget offered are not bad, above average, to look attractive.

- All the accounts were newly registered, usually on the same day of the job posts, and payment method unverified.

- In my case, all of them are based in the U.S.

 

I know they are scammers. I've directly declined most of them, and also replied to several, asking why they wanted to move to Whatsapp rather than Upwork. They'd reply and pretend to be innocent, saying: "I don't understand what you are saying. I'm new to Upwork." Then I said: "There have been an increasing number of scammers on Upwork doing exactly what you do. I only talk on Upwork at the early stage of a job discusssion. If you are not a scammer, please get back to me here on Upwork and I'll happily apoligize." Silence. But they don't stop.

 

I always flagged them as inappropriate. But when I checked back later those job posts were still there. Hello, Upwork?

 

I now receive 1-2 job invites like this every week. They are annoying, to say the least, and time wasting. Plus, I had been a scam victim due to other reasons before, so I hate the fraudsters and feel extremely disgusted at even a remote glimpse of them.

 

I'm writing this post here for 2 reasons:

1. I'm calling on Upwork to put more efforts to identify and ban scammers. I have seen freelancers posting here saying they've unfortunately been scammed. Even though I didn't fall myself, the risk is there. The scammers are causing damage to the platform and harming the financial interest of freelancers who came here to earn money! 

As I listed above, the scammers have a pattern. I believe Upwork can update their system to detect suspicious activities. It's not even that difficult! Even if they can't directly ban the job posts or the clients, at least flag them out as a potential risk, Perhaps show a reminder to freelancers when they see the job posts, like "We think this is likely a scam. Pay attention if the client asks you to leave Upwork and communicate somewhere else."

I also think Upwork should consider sending a public message to all the freelancers about the ongoing scams regularly. Remember, freelancers are your assets. A risk to us is a risk to the platform itself!

 

2. I want to add my experience to the community to allow more freelancers be aware of this. 

15 REPLIES 15
pgiambalvo
Community Member

Thank you for posting this here. Excellent suggestions.

Thanks, Peter. Let's hope we can make ourselves heard.

m_terrazas
Community Member


Yuan G wrote:

I've been using Upwork since the oDesk days. In the recent months I began to receive job invites from clients that are most definitely scammers. They share the common features below:

- Very short job description, jus a few words like "Looking for a Chinese translator".

- Attemping to redirect freelancers to Whatsapp. A lot of them include a Whatsapp number to contact in the job invite messages. The others would do this right after I sent a proposal.

- The hourly rates or fixed budget offered are not bad, above average, to look attractive.

- All the accounts were newly registered, usually on the same day of the job posts, and payment method unverified.

- In my case, all of them are based in the U.S.

 

I know they are scammers. I've directly declined most of them, and also replied to several, asking why they wanted to move to Whatsapp rather than Upwork. They'd reply and pretend to be innocent, saying: "I don't understand what you are saying. I'm new to Upwork." Then I said: "There have been an increasing number of scammers on Upwork doing exactly what you do. I only talk on Upwork at the early stage of a job discusssion. If you are not a scammer, please get back to me here on Upwork and I'll happily apoligize." Silence. But they don't stop.

 

I always flagged them as inappropriate. But when I checked back later those job posts were still there. Hello, Upwork?

 

I now receive 1-2 job invites like this every week. They are annoying, to say the least, and time wasting. Plus, I had been a scam victim due to other reasons before, so I hate the fraudsters and feel extremely disgusted at even a remote glimpse of them.

 

I'm writing this post here for 2 reasons:

1. I'm calling on Upwork to put more efforts to identify and ban scammers. I have seen freelancers posting here saying they've unfortunately been scammed. Even though I didn't fall myself, the risk is there. The scammers are causing damage to the platform and harming the financial interest of freelancers who came here to earn money! 

As I listed above, the scammers have a pattern. I believe Upwork can update their system to detect suspicious activities. It's not even that difficult! Even if they can't directly ban the job posts or the clients, at least flag them out as a potential risk, Perhaps show a reminder to freelancers when they see the job posts, like "We think this is likely a scam. Pay attention if the client asks you to leave Upwork and communicate somewhere else."

I also think Upwork should consider sending a public message to all the freelancers about the ongoing scams regularly. Remember, freelancers are your assets. A risk to us is a risk to the platform itself!

 

2. I want to add my experience to the community to allow more freelancers be aware of this. 


I will say once again what has been repeated a thousand times. Although some people do not like to read it.


As you said, one of the guidelines that scammers follow is to try to contact outside of Upwork. Either because they say it clearly in the job description or they tell you when interviewing you.
So if someone falls for this deception, it is only their fault, why? Because they are violating the rules of Upwork.
Rules that they say accept and have read when they create their profile.

 

By this I do not mean that Upwork, perhaps, can refine the search for fraudulent jobs. And I say maybe, because there are many which you only know that they are hoaxes when you have an interview. Upwork can't do anything there.

 

I know flag is a nuisance, I have been doing it against freelancers who were liars and scammers.

 

Warn that a job "may" be a scam? This is ridiculous. It is a scam or it is not. You cannot mark a customer as a "possible" scammer!

 

If people decide to go to work through Upwork, they must do so at their own risk. It has enough information in TOS, Help, CS and the forums (full of people who will help where possible).


Here we are supposed to be professionals running a business. They will not lead us by the hand.

Maria, I agree that freelancers are supposed to be professionals and we should take responsibility for our actions.

But I do not agree that " if someone falls for this deception, it is only their fault". Upwork does not absolutely forbid taking the conversation outside the platform. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to do so. The job might need to be completed on an extermal app like whatsapp or Zoom. For example, the client has an established group on Whatsapp or need to follow their corporate security guideline and use another app. 

It's like on the stock trade market, investors are supposed to watch out for themselves and do the right things, and there are guidelines and rules telling people what they can or cannot do. But does it mean the market regulators are just free of responsibilities from there? I don't think so. And that's not how the real world operates in practice. Knowing someone are acting with malicious intent and seeing it's on the rise, it is part of the platform's responsibility to take action within its capability. If they just ignore what's going on, it will only make the market a worse place.

This is why banks and cred card unions have been working hard on fraud prevention. They can't just tell the users: We've told you what you should not do. It's all on you!

I certainly do not agree that flagging the job posts as suspicious is ridiculous. As I said, there are certain patterns that can be detected. If this is ridiculous, why would Google do malicious sites check and show users an alert page before redirecting to the site?

We, freelancers, are users of Upworks. We have our obligations, and rights.


Yuan G wrote:

Maria, I agree that freelancers are supposed to be professionals and we should take responsibility for our actions.

But I do not agree that " if someone falls for this deception, it is only their fault". Upwork does not absolutely forbid taking the conversation outside the platform. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to do so. The job might need to be completed on an extermal app like whatsapp or Zoom. For example, the client has an established group on Whatsapp or need to follow their corporate security guideline and use another app. 

It's like on the stock trade market, investors are supposed to watch out for themselves and do the right things, and there are guidelines and rules telling people what they can or cannot do. But does it mean the market regulators are just free of responsibilities from there? I don't think so. And that's not how the real world operates in practice. Knowing someone are acting with malicious intent and seeing it's on the rise, it is part of the platform's responsibility to take action within its capability. If they just ignore what's going on, it will only make the market a worse place.

This is why banks and cred card unions have been working hard on fraud prevention. They can't just tell the users: We've told you what you should not do. It's all on you!

I certainly do not agree that flagging the job posts as suspicious is ridiculous. As I said, there are certain patterns that can be detected. If this is ridiculous, why would Google do malicious sites check and show users an alert page before redirecting to the site?

We, freelancers, are users of Upworks. We have our obligations, and rights.


You will have to excuse me if I misunderstood you, but Upwork explicitly prohibits any contact outside the platform "before" there is an established contract.
https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/360052511833-On-platform-Interviews

There are only two exceptions, as you will see in the article.

Maria, I know that it's a violation. But with my experience it can happen that during the interview it might be necessary to use an external app to share certain information or for a group interview.

And the rule applies to both sides. So why are these scam job posts still stay active after being reported as inappropriate?

I'm not falling for the scams myself. I understand there are no perfect solutions, and I would tell all the freelancers that they should not take the bite. But personally I can't agree that it's all on freelancers and Upwork can't do anything. The scammers keep coming because they know it can work. It has worked for them. And I believe all of us, including Upwork, would not want this on the platform. We do what we should and can as freelancers. I'd say the same for Upwork.


Yuan G wrote:

I certainly do not agree that flagging the job posts as suspicious is ridiculous. As I said, there are certain patterns that can be detected. If this is ridiculous, why would Google do malicious sites check and show users an alert page before redirecting to the site?

We, freelancers, are users of Upworks. We have our obligations, and rights.


If upwork finds a violation and takes the job posting down, why would they put a warning on it beforehand? In which time? Can you imagine the uproar in the forum from all the people complaining about how bad upwork is because they don't remove posts that they themselves find suspicious yada yada yada? Not a viable concept.

It is impossible, repeat, impossible to get scammed on upwork if the freelancer does the following: read and adhere to ToS. Specifically: no conversation outside of upwork before hire, no payment outside of upwork, no work without a contract and/or funded milestone. 

That's it. That's all it takes. No need for flags on job posts. Just common sense and adhering to the ToS they signed up for. 

01768726301a
Community Member

Better not reply outside upwork and don't trust them.

Usually most of us avoid them 

Thanks,
Abdullah Hel Kafee | Graphic Designer

Abdullah, yes, I know. I do, too. But it doesn't mean Upwork can't do anything from their side.

At many tourism sites in Europe you might find people selling roses. It's a well known fact that they would approach tourists and ask them to buy some flowers, and when the tourists take out their wallets, the sellers could snatch the wallet or cash and run away. Would you say because most tourists should know better and ignore them, the local authority can just let it be?

It will only give that place a bad reputation and make it less attractive.

That is a great analogy. Thanks!

Who are you talking about? Who is most of us? Please don't speak for me. 

jr-translation
Community Member

Tbh, I think there are more scammers among the freelancers than the clients. Especially since scamming clients can be avoided by following the ToS.

 

I no longer feel sorry for freelancers that get scammed for being to lazy to read and follow the ToS.

I do feel sorry for clients that get scammed by freelancers that have been reported by several clients and are still allowed to offer their "services".

I feel sorry for both.

re: "I think there are more scammers among the freelancers than the clients. Especially since scamming clients can be avoided by following the ToS."

 

I agree.

 

Moreover, I think that freelancer scammers are far more problematic for Upwork's profitability.

 

And far more problematic for my own profitability.

 

Because scammers don't approach me, as they avoid experienced freelancers.

 

But freelancer scammers cause bad experiences for clients. And then those clients don't want to use the platform. And they share their experiences with others, which causes a problem for the platform's reputation.

Agreed.

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