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financemark
Community Member

Post Reading "Upwork generates fake jobs to scam freelancers for money?"

This post is from 2023 and makes the assertion that Upwork posts fake jobs in order to generate token revenues.

There are several experiences described throughout the post, some sound reasonably aligned to the idea of 'fake jobs', some not.  Firstly, I am not making any such assertion of fraud, i.e. I do not have any direct knowledge that Upwork creates fake jobs to generate revenue.  

 

I thought we migh restart the discussion from a different perspective: Firstly:  I believe that "Professionalism" and "Care" should preface any claim that a US company is engaging in fraudulent activity.   Afterall, such a claim is serious, very serious (think Twitter's false accounts and the impact it had).  Second, these assertions could violate Upwork's TOS, and importantly, they could cause reputational harm to Upwork, if not true.  Finally, they suggest activities that are very likely illegal. 

 

MY OBSERVATIONS:

I have noticed a stark increase in the types of listings described in the original posting: repeat postings from new clients, many without funding verified and clearly allowed to remain on the network, I downvote them, then they reappear the next day, or sometimes in the same day.  This, for me, has been very noticeable as I use the network in the same pattern as always.   I have not directly measured the occurance of these suspicious looking posts (i.e. no percentage growth measurement, not statistical evidence).  These are only obervations, not evidence. 

 

MY CONCERNS:

1. Firstly, I am concerned that many freelancers are making claims of fraud without adequately thinking about such claims.  We  MUST be careful here!   Upwork is where we work, and unless we have solid evidence that fraud is being committed, please use caution.

2. I do have some suspicion, not based on evidence or fact, that some jobs on the network have the appearance of being fake.  Again, I am not making any assertions; I am only sharing my observations and opinions.  

3. Why does Upwork persist in allowing repeat, non-hire, non-funded jobs to remain on their network?  This dimishes the integrity of the network and invites unethical activity. 

 

NEXT STEPS:

Creating false jobs on a jobs network with the intention to generate revenue is, I sense, fraudelent in the US, and likely illegal for a publicy-traded company, such as Upwork.  Again, I am NOT making any such claim and have no direct evidence of this practice at Upwork.   However, if you feel strongly enough that this is occuring, and you reside in the US, you might consider contacting your State's Attorney General's office.  You might preface this outreach with a trouble ticket in the service so that you have a clear path of written concern, and so that you have fairly provided Upwork with an opportunity to address your concern.  They should be afforded the ability respond to such suspicions. 

 

Again, I think we should not make direct accusations that UW is posting false job for profit.

I beleive we should share our well-reasoned concerns, but be sure to also be fair and professionally consciensous to Upwork. 

 

Thoughts?

 

 

 

ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Sure I will copy/paste one:

"As a Data Entry Specialist, you will be essential in preserving the precision and reliability of our data. Your duties will involve entering and updating information in our systems, making sure our databases remain up-to-date and free of errors. This is an ideal chance for someone eager to begin their career in data management and acquire valuable experience within a supportive and professional setting.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Precisely enter and update data in company databases and software systems.
  • Confirm data accuracy by cross-referencing it with source documents.
  • Conduct routine data quality checks and audits to maintain data integrity."




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83 REPLIES 83
feed_my_eyes
Community Member

My thoughts are that this claim is completely ridiculous, and mainly perpetuated by a handful of extremely disgruntled freelancers who are bitter because it used to be cheap and easy to get work here, but now it's difficult and expensive. These claims have been made for as long as I can remember, so if anybody has ever had a shred of evidence, why haven't they gone to the appropriate authorities by now?

 

Yes, if Upwork is posting fake jobs, it would be fraud and it would have serious repercussions. People would lose their jobs and reputations, they could be charged, the company could be fined or shut down. Shareholders would bolt. Why would they take such a risk, when they have millions more freelancers than they need, and absolutely no need to attract more? Freelancers don't need to be convinced to stay here; even the really bitter ones haven't left.

 

Another reason I think that the conspiracy theories are false? Upwork laid off 15% of their staff about a year ago; if any of these former employees had knowledge of fraudulent business practices, don't you think that one of them would have blown the whistle by now? 

 

Also, if Upwork is posting fake jobs, then why not go all the way and fake-award them to some fake freelancers? If their diabolical plan is to mislead us into thinking that this is a great place to find work, you'd think that it would be more effective for them to post fake high-budget, great-sounding jobs and actually award them, instead of making many people think (as I do) that since there are so few good jobs being posted in the open marketplace, it's not worth sending proposals at all any more. According to you, jobs look fake because the payment method isn't verified, they're repeated over and over, and there's no hiring history; you'd think that Upwork would be able to fake all of those things, if they were posting fake jobs? 

 

Are there a lot of scam jobs on Upwork? Absolutely. Could Upwork be doing more about it? Yes. But are Upwork employees posting these jobs themselves? No. 

No doubt, the claim is ridiculous.

Nonetheless what is going on now is a reflection of UpWork's current reputation; a growing cesspool were all the grifters are welcomed as long if they make the freelancers spend money.

 

Yes, I am in a Telegram group that hires people to create fake jobs on Upwork so freelancers spend their connects and need to buy more. As far as I know you get "tokens" for every job you create, after you get certain amount of tokens you can exchange them for real USD. 
In the past they gave you tokens for creating the job and a bonus for how many people applied to the job you created, but now there is a lot of bots applying for jobs so that bonus is gone. 

I have never participated in such an activity so I dont know any more details, only what I can see on the general chat.
As far as I know this kind of groups are not officialy affiliated with Upwork, but someone is paying them so idk. 

Hi Angel

I hope you are joking. Trully do. But if you are being honest please share that Telegram group link not only in this forum but also (and above all to UW) so that they start bloking does posts...

Telegram is crap, we all know that, just another disinformation provocative "media" that only intends to bring down whatever doesn't relate to their preception of living...

Please share the link!!!


 wrote:

so if anybody has ever had a shred of evidence, why haven't they gone to the appropriate authorities by now?

 

 


How do you know no one has done it?


 wrote:

 wrote:

so if anybody has ever had a shred of evidence, why haven't they gone to the appropriate authorities by now?

 

 


How do you know no one has done it?


So where is the evidence, then? Why hasn't any action been taken against Upwork?

 

I'm sorry, but this isn't how the law works. People (and companies) are innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent.

  • They have.  Lexis Nexus showed a few litigation settlments against Upwork in the past.  But withint he USA legal system, you have the full capacity to request files to be redacted and hidden from public access.  Also, All digitial technical companies know how to use SEO.  It's nothing to simply hide legal actions against their company with their own in house SEO teams.
  • I was one of those paid parties in a settled litigation before it went to court.  Got $4,000 from the suit in florida.  For the company supporting fradulent over seas freelancers to scam data from website development.

I dont have evidence that UW creates fake jobs for the sake of earning connects revenue, so I am not making any such assertion.

However, if you beleive that every illegal activity of a US corporation sees the light-of-day, you don't understand US Corporate Law or the protections they wield in keeping their offenses silent.   guilt or innocent is not really the calculus - damage mitigation, risk-management and the like; those are the guiding principals in this space.  Im not judging that as good or bad, right or wrong - it just 'is'. 

 

UW is very often a loser in arbitrated disputes (Ive heard of several - and can extrapolate that this represents not the total) where UW was completely slammed by the arbitraters, i.e. they had very wabbly arguments for keeping Freelancers disputed $.

 

I'm not making any fake job assertions, but I'm not naive about how Silicon Valley corporations operate  --- having done lots of business with them in the past!

a5780821
Community Member

They have.  Lexis Nexus showed a few litigation settlments against Upwork in the past.  But withint he USA legal system, you have the full capacity to request files to be redacted and hidden from public access.  Also, All digitial technical companies know how to use SEO.  It's nothing to simply hide legal actions against their company with their own in house SEO teams.

That is sound logic Christine - upvote.

atreglia
Community Member

I never believed that Upwork was fake-posting jobs.  However, while I still mostly don’t believe it, I am less sure about it.  I say that because I just don’t believe there are that many people in the world with nothing else to do but sit around and post thousands of fake jobs on Upwork when there’s essentially nothing in it for them.  OTOH, Upwork has the resources, incentive and is disingenuous enough to make that happen.  They clearly have no shame, so it’d be fair to say I would not be surprised to learn they are posting fake jobs.  My opinion of Upwork went due south a couple years ago when I learned about the “Other” pile of proposals.  I’m sorry, but IMO it takes a special kind of company to take a bought-and-paid-for bid and just trash it like that.  What an awful thing to do to someone.  I don’t know, but something on a very basic level here just doesn’t smell right to me.

yofazza
Community Member


 I just don’t believe there are that many people in the world with nothing else to do but sit around and post thousands of fake jobs on Upwork when there’s essentially nothing in it for them.

 

I'm of course not saying that I am right, but as I mentioned in that thread, I have also made mistakes (less than five times in my entire life) of "posting" something massively. It happened when I tested some emails or messaging, and it unintentionally posted to all users. I of course, apologized after that, although I know the users would think, "what an unprofessional service!!!"

 

There are, ways to do this correctly, such as testing things on fake users, which is not needed by the bot creators and fake job posters on Upwork. From my eyes, this could explain the fake job posts with "no benefit" (except, although not directly, for Upwork). Those no-benefit posts are development tests or mistakes.

 

 

You might read that post already but I want to post this as even Wise makes the same mistake 😄

 

wise.PNG

Robo-Posters are to blame here?  Yes Radia, I think your robo practices are unethical at best and would avoid you like the plague, but thanks for sharing.

 

I think Robo-Responders should be banned here as it degenerates the platform experience for all -- -but then it does "generate" (see what I did there) revenue for UW. 

I sense a little misunderstanding here, most likely because I'm not a fluent speaker.

 

So, people were asking, what's with those job posts that don't seem to have any purpose? Not real jobs, but not scams either? They just posted there and left to expire. They simply look like they were made by Upwork to fill the list and drain people's connects.

 

This is where I said it's possible that they are "tests" or "mistakes".

 

People create bots, or automate the creation of fake accounts, to post their scam jobs or to submit proposals. They don't need to take precautions when doing their tests, they just test their work directly on this live site. They don't care about mistakes either.

 

That post I linked above shows where multiple fake accounts "cloned" from a same profile, sent proposals to a same client. Of course the client is suprised, seeing mutiple same person on their proposal list. This is most likely a mistake.

 

And there are a lot of ethical use of bots, or doing mass messaging.


Anna T. wrote:

I say that because I just don’t believe there are that many people in the world with nothing else to do but sit around and post thousands of fake jobs on Upwork when there’s essentially nothing in it for them. 


I don't believe that, either. I think that some clients post jobs with every intention of hiring, but get discouraged when they're inundated with crappy proposals from obviously unqualified freelancers. I think that some clients post on multiple platforms and find better freelancers elsewhere. I think that many of the unawarded jobs are posted by freelancers who want to spy on what their competitors are saying in their job proposals. I think that there's a lot of circumvention going on, too (if you've ever frequented a forum where freelancers can post anonymously, many, many people admit to taking clients off-platform to save the 10% fee); now that Upwork is charging clients a project initiation fee, it's probably even easier to convince them to go off-platform.

 

Like I said, if Upwork is posting fake jobs, why aren't they fake-awarding them as well, instead of leading us to believe that it's a waste of time sending proposals because most jobs go unawarded? What's in it for them to do that?

 


Anna T. wrote:

My opinion of Upwork went due south a couple years ago when I learned about the “Other” pile of proposals.  I’m sorry, but IMO it takes a special kind of company to take a bought-and-paid-for bid and just trash it like that.  


I agree with you there. Not only the "other" pile, but marking some proposals "best match" when they're clearly not, and putting little comments on our profiles in the search results, like "top 5% of graphic designers on Upwork", when (in some cases I've seen) the person isn't a graphic designer at all, let alone in the top 5%. It's infuriating the extent to which they interfere like that and get it so horribly wrong, but I do think that it's a massively misguided attempt to "help" clients find freelancers, and not actually due to criminal intent.


 wrote:

Not only the "other" pile, but marking some proposals "best match" when they're clearly not, and putting little comments on our profiles in the search results, like "top 5% of graphic designers on Upwork", when (in some cases I've seen) the person isn't a graphic designer at all, let alone in the top 5%. It's infuriating the extent to which they interfere like that and get it so horribly wrong, but I do think that it's a massively misguided attempt to "help" clients find freelancers, and not actually due to criminal intent.

I think "attempt to 'help' clients find freelancers" is overly generous here.  What's happening is akin to a shady store-owner mislabeling goods and pushing ineffective products on customers just so they don't leave the store without buying *something*.  "Here, buy this jacket, it's in the top 5% of jackets" when the item is actually a sweater, and it's threadbare.  

Threadbare - now thats the perfect word for some of my UW experiences.

Far more refined than "worldwide toilet bowl of desperate talent".   [I might have pushed the envelope on that one!]

 

More great logic

 

--  I do find similar sounding "Data Analyst" posting here, new client, payment not verified, vague information on client.   I wonder if GPT is to blame?  

Other pile of proposals?  What do you mean?

celgins
Community Member

I've never believed the claim that Upwork posts fake jobs to scam freelancers out of their money, and I've never seen a hint of evidence to support such claims.

 

Similar to what Christine said, I think about all the former Upwork employees and contractors, and how we never hear stories of fake job creation. You'd think if fake job creation is the norm or even unusual within the walls of a multimillion dollar corporation, somebody would've said something after all these years--especially those who were terminated and vengeful.


I'm certain Upwork’s lawyers, general counsel, and legal officers know very well what Upwork can and cannot get away with. They must identify, assess, and mitigate legal risks and ensure the corporation complies with laws and regulations in all aspects of its business operations, including consumer protection laws.


I believe Upwork has made its share of bad decisions and has taken nonsensical actions over the years, but creating and posting its own fake jobs carries way too much risk. From what I can tell, most fake jobs are created by bots, clients with client-only accounts who have no intention of hiring, and freelancers with client accounts.

Then what is a purpose of fake job? 

Only the fake job creator knows the purpose of their job. From what I've seen:

 

  • Some well-intentioned clients post jobs and never return for a variety of reasons.
  • Some clients window shop and browse--gathering information from multiple freelancer sites. Businesses--like individuals--want value for their money, so they look around.
  • Some clients seek information/data with no intention of hiring on Upwork or any other freelancer site. They gather enough information to craft a solution, and then hire someone offline or devise their own approach based on the information they received.
  • Some clients circumvent Upwork by gathering information/data and immediately working with the freelancer outside of Upwork.
  • Some freelancers pose as clients and post fake jobs to gather information/data. It's an unethical way of performing a terrible version of a SWOT analysis or an attempt to steal proposal and solution ideas from experts.

 

I'm sure there are other reasons, but I have seen all of the above.

There are tons of fake job farms on Telegram bro, its not Upwork itself. 

upwork makes $0.15 per connect.  Job postings take 10-20 connects.  Each person applying to a job can give the company $1.50-$3.00 per proposal.   If you get 100 people sending a job proposal on one fake job. That's $300 for one job..    you do that with 10-20 fake jobs.. It gets up to THOUSANDs a day..

tjmisny
Community Member

Then why isn't Upwork wrangling the "fake" jobs and shutting down Client accounts with hundreds of job postings and only a few hires?  Surely this is achievable for a massive tech company that is tripling down on AI... 


 wrote:

Then why isn't Upwork wrangling the "fake" jobs and shutting down Client accounts with hundreds of job postings and only a few hires?  Surely this is achievable for a massive tech company that is tripling down on AI... 


You should be careful what you wish for, there. I posted a job on Upwork and two of their main competitors last year - a totally legit job where I wanted somebody to help me with a project. One of the websites (not Upwork) sent me a message saying that my job was fraudulent and would be removed, without saying why; to this day, I have no idea what the problem was, nor did customer service respond to my enquiries. You really want Upwork to use an automated process - the same kind of automated process that they use to determine "best match" and move proposals to the "other" pile - to determine whether jobs are fake or not? I'd rather see 99 fake jobs being posted than risk even one good opportunity being accidentally removed, which I guarantee you would happen.

Valid point!  I of course do not want a poorly designed / ineffective system, but if an accurate system can be designed, I'd be in full support.  

There are things though that they could do to atleast make the system function better. For starters if a job isn't filled within x amount of days give the connects back to the freelancer as right now while they may not be posting jobs themselves they do benefit from these postings so actually they have absolutly not motivation to make the system better, infact as we have seen they are encouraged to keep increasing how much it takes to apply for jobs.

 

And they could make people posting jobs put down a deposit, it would be fine just being a nominal fee, say the $1.50 which is the cheapest connects package where if a client chooses not to hire they aren't generally going to miss it (especially a legit client) but if they do hire then it just goes towards the freelancers bill. It would weed out many of the timewasters (maybe data collectors may deem it worthwhile still doing) and Upwork still get to profiteer but from the timewasters who deserve to have that happen to them more rather than the freelancers

No, we don't want to be governed by fautly AI logic written by the cheapest offshore coder, using ethically questionable assumptions and data gathering techniques .. but Hayden seems to be a big fan of the huge margin savings:

 

"The AI space was one of the most important and promising growth
opportunities for our company and customers over the past year.
We firmly believe that human-centered AI will be a game-changer
for work, deliver major wins for professionals and companies alike,
and serve as an avenue for the world to work smarter. As such,
we’ve embarked on a journey to transform our customer experience
with AI, and in 2023, we unveiled many AI-powered innovations in
our ecosystem.

Our AI Services hub connects clients to highly skilled AI-focused
talent, features partnerships with leading AI providers, and highlights
resources and tools for businesses and talent looking to boost their
work with AI. Upwork Chat Pro is one such GPT-4-powered tool that
is embedded into the Upwork experience to help customers solve
challenging tasks and do their best work, faster. Another example, our
Job Post Generator, helps reduce friction for clients by aiding them
in accurately describing their needs and increasing the speed with
which they can post jobs.

A cornerstone of our plan to fundamentally re-envision the full Upwork
experience with AI was the acquisition of Headroom in the fourth
quarter of 2023. This pivotal move will enable us to accelerate our
work to reimagine how we serve customer needs using human-
centered AI as the new building block for innovation."

 

2023 10K Stockholder Letter from CEO --

celgins
Community Member

It's all about determining intent and Upwork cannot review a job posting and assess intent. And, I agree with Christine--you really wouldn't want an AI script evaluating every job in an effort to measure intent.

 

Aside from that, client accounts with hundreds of job postings and only a few hires are not the biggest batch of fake jobs in my opinion. Client accounts that post hundreds of jobs are easily recognizable and Upwork could take action. But posting multiple jobs without hiring isn't a ToS violation.

tjmisny
Community Member

Strongly disagree, Clark.  How can you not determine the intent of a client with a 8% hire rate and 200 jobs posted?  Or a job posting that includes a link to contact information by Telegram?  This is not true of every job posting, but for many, it is plainly obvious.  

 

You say that "posting multiple jobs without hiring" is not a TOS violation.  That's like saying "closing your eyes in a motor vehicle isn't illegal" when we're talking about someone driving drunk.  

celgins
Community Member

When I talk about determining intent, I'm referring to a function where a human or algorithm reviews job descriptions to assess the reasons why a client is posting the job. This is too difficult to determine while the job description is being constructed and just as difficult after the job has been posted.

 

As I stated, client accounts that post hundreds of jobs with few hires are easily recognizable, and Upwork could take action if they want. But jobs that include links to contact information are a much clearer violation of Upwork's ToS.

 

I created a list (in response to Khushbu's question) of reasons why some clients post fake jobs because it's what I've seen. However, nothing in the list is easily identifiable because Upwork cannot determine the reasons why a client posts a job.

tjmisny
Community Member

But I'm specifically referring to the two things you yourself just said that Upwork's automation can review and remove.  Upwork CAN remove the extremely low-rate hire clients.  Upwork CAN remove the clients who post contact information in their posts.  The fact that they have not, after years of complaints about this, makes me feel that there must be a financial incentive for these posts to remain for longer than necessary.  

Most proposals in some job segments come from bots.

 

"We generate revenue from both talent and clients of our Marketplace and Enterprise offerings. Revenue is primarily
generated from fees charged to talent as a percentage of their billings to clients, which we refer to as talent service
fees, and to a lesser extent, fees charged to clients on a per-transaction basis, which we refer to as client
marketplace fees. We also generate revenue from fees for premium offerings, including our Upwork Payroll offering,
purchases of Connects (virtual tokens that are required for talent to bid on projects and ads products on our work
marketplace), talent memberships, and other services, such as foreign currency exchange when clients choose to
pay in currencies other than the U.S. dollar."

2023 10k p 10 - right from the pen of Hayden herself!

a5780821
Community Member

I would agree, if it wasn't for upwork suporting fraud.  There have been a few govenrment contract jobs that I flagged and they are still posted and still processing on their website.  I had to go to the ATT gen of FL to get them to send the letter ot upwork to get them to remove the post.  They deleted it, but not the person.  Within a few days of deletion, it was right back up.  I had to go back to the ATT Gen office and file the complaint again with the additional concept that the "User" was never removed.  It took another month to remove the user, then they made a new account and continued to make the same posts and copy/pasting federal contract data, which is illegal.  Upwork didn't care at all.  When I got the information from the ATT Gen through a FOIA request.  Each job post had close to 200 proposals.  Do the math.  One scam post mad them a bit. 


We can do the math..  15-20 "connects"  $0.15 per connect.  The job takes 20 connects to apply.  $3.00 per proposal upwork makes on that.  That was $600 for the job posting from all the people sending proposals.    That job post was repeated several times.  It only takes 5-6 fake posts per day to make a few thousand dollars each day.  Where do you think that money goes??? 

tjmisny
Community Member

Wow, thanks for sharing this Tounsi - it's shocking how much work you had to do to get one post off of Upwork.  This is exactly why I stand by my comments in this thread, why it is unacceptable that Upwork allows posts against the ToS to remain on the site.  


"I'm certain Upwork’s lawyers, general counsel, and legal officers know very well what Upwork can and cannot get away with."

LOL -- never once ever heard of a US corporation cheating for sake of profit !!!
spectralua
Community Member

So, you found my topic and even decided to create a separate one instead of posting there. This small symbol "?" means that a question was asked and not a assertion. But to make it easier for you I’ll ask you one question: Apr 27 I told Upwork that I discovered the publication of obviously fake vacancies every hour. Today, there are already 5 such vacancies published per hour. Upwork knows how to look for them and has every opportunity to stop it. Why do you think this has been going on and noone is doing anything?

In that topic I publish only the facts I found. With links, full info and all evidences. Upwork defenders like Christine better look at carefully before will be deceived too. I hope them receiving own payment for that but not volonteuring. 😸

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