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shummas
Community Member

Person claiming to be a dying cancer patient getting freelancers to volunteer for $5?

I've come across a few job postings where a person is claiming to be a dying cancer patient who needs volunteers to help set up their company. From WordPress designing to content writing and product photography, they want it all done for an initial payment of $5, with a promise of "heaven" and a possible payback in the future (if their company starts making money).

I honestly feel sorry for the person on the off-chance that their story is actually true. But being honest, the description reads like it's been written to invoke feelings of sympathy with frequent mentions of cancer, death, and tragedy. While I'm feeling sympathetic for the person, I'm also equally concerned for multiple people falling for a possible scam.

Should I flag their jobs or are they technically in the clear for funding the escrow and offering an initial partial payment of $5 with no guarantee of future payments? Guess you can't say it's free when they're offering $5 hmm? They've been interviewing multiple people on their postings and have a hiring rate of only 17%, though.

25 REPLIES 25
spectralua
Community Member

$5 fixed price? All within rures, price declared, job declared. You have nothing to report.

Well, I really hope their story isn't true because it made me sad. Either everything they've written is true or the scammers are getting smarter lol.

Look at it from the other side. A beginner can earn their first 5 stars there and get a great career start. ๐Ÿ™‚

No job should have a guarantee of five stars; I flag these "jobs," and Upwork will investigate. No one should work for dirt wages; no one. I don't care what country you are from if you have the skills, you should be paid accordingly. People make a mistake when they look at their local wages and base their Upwork fees accordingly. This is a worldwide platform.  Being a new freelancer or living in a poor area of the world doesn't mean you have to be treated poorly.

 

So now, the freelancer has one job listed for a whopping $5.00, which Upwork will remove 20%. Four dollars for the job is ridiculously low. Now any future clients will see the freelancer did a LOT for that pittance, and believe they too can get such a bargain.

Exactly. I belong to Pakistan, and perhaps the biggest reason I'm here is that I make more on Upwork than I could ever do while working in my country. But new freelancers often don't realize this. I, too, worked for very low prices when I first started. I also see some local freelancers running a "business" on Upwork by charging their clients a higher fee and outsourcing all the work to desperate locals via Facebook groups at ridiculously cheap prices. These middlemen are squatting on freelance jobs left and right, often with $400K+ earned, 150 ongoing contracts, and a top-rated plus profile. They just keep squatting on new jobs, making it very difficult for newcomers to get noticed.

I believe that if the freelancer is not doing the work, they should provide full disclosure and pay the freelancer doing the work what they bid for the job, not a paltry amount handed down from the non-working freelancer to the ones who do the work. You are correct, there are ads all over to scam the neediest and desperate. Using people in such ways turns my stomach.


Jeanne H wrote:

I believe that if the freelancer is not doing the work, they should provide full disclosure


I agree with that. I think there should be some kind of a distinctive symbol when somebody posts a project and they also have a freelancer profile here. It would prevent everyone from wasting time when freelancers post fake projects in order to award themselves connects or feedback, or spy on their competition.

 


Jeanne H wrote:

and pay the freelancer doing the work what they bid for the job, not a paltry amount handed down from the non-working freelancer to the ones who do the work. 


I don't necessarily agree with that part. Not everyone has the same level of experience or skills here. For example, if I want to subcontract a portion of a project that I'm doing, i.e. for data entry or background removal on a photo, I'm not going to pay $90/hour for that; I would subcontract it to a cheaper freelancer and pass [most] of the savings on to my client. I don't think that people should exploit others, but not all subcontracting is evil, either; a lot of people would be happy to get work as part of a larger project that they wouldn't be able to win themselves, and for which they don't have to manage the project or deal with the client. (I regularly get messages from freelancers who want me to subcontract work to them.)


Christine A wrote:

I think there should be some kind of a distinctive symbol when somebody posts a project and they also have a freelancer profile here. It would prevent everyone from wasting time when freelancers post fake projects in order to award themselves connects or feedback, or spy on their competition.

Thanks, Christine, for pointing out the validity and usefulness of subcontracting, which can benefit all parties. And over and above that, I think your suggestion above is brilliant.

 It should be indicated when it is subcontracted.

 

I should have been clear. I don't have a problem with valid subcontracting or anything you mention. However, I have encountered multiple freelancers who post proposals with their names and profile. Then, behind the scenes, they use people who don't know the system and pay them dirt even when they have real skills. These freelancers are running, for lack of a better term, sweatshops. A friend sent me an ad he found (he is in India) offering Upwork jobs in the web development area requiring an expert level of skills and the ones doing the work will receive .80 cents an hour despite the jobs being a high dollar figure. The real workers do the entire job.

 

The problem is just an online extension of brick-and-mortar sweatshops, and it's expanding rapidly as online freelancing grows.

 

Most of my messages these days are from new freelancers trying to get me to hire and I am not a client. Amazingly enough, I've had two men who demanded work.

 

 


Jeanne H wrote:

No one should work for dirt wages; no one. I don't care what country you are from if you have the skills, you should be paid accordingly.





But thats not your decision to make.  A freelancer has the choice to apply for that job.  

Another consideration is that some people will take a job for the experience.  This probably isnt the case with this particular "job", but it certainly can be with others.  I have personally taken over a 50% reduction in my pay just for the opportunity to get experience that I didnt possess.  That one strategic move allowed me to open a business.

 


Jeanne H wrote:

 

So now, the freelancer has one job listed for a whopping $5.00, which Upwork will remove 20%. Four dollars for the job is ridiculously low. Now any future clients will see the freelancer did a LOT for that pittance, and believe they too can get such a bargain.





Again, thats not your decision to make.  Its the freelancer's choice.

Their careers are not likely to prosper, if they fall for something like that. 

aMykola A wrote:

Look at it from the other side. A beginner can earn their first 5 stars there and get a great career start. ๐Ÿ™‚


Effectively buying a rating is not "a great career start."

Beginners need a rating otherwise there will be no career at all. I'm not concerned about the ethics of this job. I'm talking about the opportunity. The price is indicated, the work is indicated. If the freelancer agrees, why not?

Let me give you an example: not so long ago due to a chargeback Upwork blocked my account and forced me to return money. It was not my fault at all. The chargeback followed 2 months after work done. There is a war going on here, people are dying daily, there is no other work. And I had to take any low-paying jobs to survive. Therefore, I was happy with such works. Then I simply would have the opportunity to pay the bills. Therefore, if you choose who was more humane, a liar-exploiter paying a cents or a platform in pursuit of profit .. what do you think?

I can give more cruel examples but this is not relevant to the topic. But it will not be clear to those who are full and safe so I will limit myself to this one. I sincerely wish that nothing worse happens in the life of the reader than a late job submission or reading about a rude client who lied about sick. ๐Ÿ™‚

sullivanliz
Community Member

I saw a similar post but it was claiming to be on behalf of someone with cancer, again setting up a website for $5 with lots of garbled stuff about profits going to help women. Definitely smells scammy but there was nothing to actually report...

I did a search for these and they definitely look like a SCAM to get cheap/free work. Also, the different posts claim different 'health ailments'.  Some say 'cancer', some say 'cancer surgery', and some say 'failing liver':  It's unclear if the problem is the Cancer itself of the Cancer Surgery.   Personally, I find it SICK that somebody would pretend to be 'dying' just to try to scam people out of work or to try to trick people into working for dirt-cheap wages.  People really have no conscience these days.

A person who is tellng the truth about this on Upwork is even worse than a person lying about it. Either way, it's inappropriate.

I couldn't agree with you more.  This is a professional platform to buy/sell professional services, not to vent about various personal problems, regardless of what those problems are. And it's definitely not a platform to make up fake problems to get 'sympathy'.   If somebody needs Wordpress services, they buy Wordpress services, or whatever else: Their medical condiction (real or fake) is completely immaterial to the purchase of that service.  It's like a person going into a business meeting and rambling about their personal financial struggles, marital issues, or other problems. Completely inappopriate.  What was also ridiculous was the Job poster promising to 'pay the freelancer' back 'some day in the future', while also saying they are about to die soon.  Lots of promises made by somebody expecting not to 'be around' much longer.

My question would be whose name is the business registered under? 

The bigger problem about this job post is that Upwork does not verify clients.  Therefore, setting up a business under an unverfied persons name and location is the perfect opportunity for someone to obtain a business license and potentially launder money until their first annual report is due.

prestonhunter
Community Member

re: "Person claiming to be a dying cancer patient getting freelancers to volunteer for $5?"

 

Yeah... That's lame.

 

Upwork is not an oncology department or hospital.

 

It is a freelance work platform.

 

Anybody on Upwork claiming to be a dying cancer patient (or a baby seal orphan nun) is, by definition, a scammer.

 

Do you know what is WORSE than a person coming onto Upwork and lying about being a dying cancer patient?


A person who REALLY IS A DYING CANCER patient coming on to Upwork and telling people that they are a dying cancer patient as a way to manipulate or scam people.

 

It is interesting how "humans" do their best to get something for free or on someone else's dime.

Speaking from 1st hand experience -- as a Stage III C Colon Cancer patient - I was diagnosed in 2012 - aside from family, I RARELY tell outsiders I am a Cancer survivor. I'm just thankful I'm still here. No need to play on people's sympathy one way or another for personal gain or attention. Most survivors I know, are NOT comfortable talking about it. The process is a battle between the disease and the individual - Afterall, Cancer is NOT a one size fits all disease - while support was / is always welcome -- it's the person with cancer who lives with the fight for survival on a uniquely personal level. Not to sound bitter( I am not), unless they walk the walk, they truly have no real sense of the challenges. I recall when doing chemo - I would be asked ALL THE TIME, how are you doing? Knowing they meant well, you would more often than not simply answer "fine..." not wanting to dwell on the subject.

As described by those participating here, this has all the earmarks of a scam. It is an insult to those who have known / lived through the process of diagnosis, surgery and treatment. The experience wasn't pleasant.

 

elisa_b
Community Member

It really depends also on the kind of work required - I would understand more if such a client asks for a translation of medical records, a little bit less if they request a logo design...!

egaruth
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Shummas,

 

Thank you for reaching out to us and bringing this to our attention. Could you please click on my name and send me a PM with more information about the job posts you are referring to? I will be sure to look into your report and escalate it accordingly.

 

~ Nikola
Upwork
shummas
Community Member

Sure, I'm sending you a PM with links to the job posts.

6bfcdaf8
Community Member

I think if there is even a glimpse of a question like "can this be true?" I'd bet 100% it isnt.

 

But still, specific group of people will find their own ways of getting tricked. Its personal tendencies. Because looking for an interesting story, quick money, hidden gem, will get you scammed 100%. Boring plain job posts on the other hand, will make you rich.

jeremiah-brown
Community Member

I am going to repost this comment down here at the bottom...

Upwork does not verify clients.

Therefore asking someone to set up a business in their name is based entirely off of blind trust.  When setting up a business you would obtain an EIN, potential VAT exemptions, licensures, and even issuance of common stock.

Setting up a business for someone you don't know is an easy opportunity for someone to launder money and commit interstate business fraud - at least up until their first annual report is due.  If the annual report is not filed, the company becomes dissolved, although its a safe assumption that there will be another shell company to take its place.

Did you know that some clients attempt to scam freelancers by paying them with worthless company stock?  The advent of crowdfunding has made this an even more "viable" scam, preying on the freelancers lack of business knowledge.  Don't chase the promise of a lucrative IPO.  Besides, its completely against Upwork's terms of service.

Whether its cancer, heart disease, leprosy, or covid, leveraging an ailment is one of the oldest elements to leverage into a scam.  It is an emotional plea designed to relax your skepticism.  

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