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Community Member

Scam How a client succeeded in getting $500 from me

I am posting this to alert other freelancers about the modus operandi of some fraudulent clients operating on upwork.

This guy posted an SEO job which I applied and was subsequently hired. In our discussion he said he is sending an upfront payment of $900 for me to use for Social Media Ads, Adword Ads, And for signing on to SEO Sservices that demand some form paid subscription. I agreed and asked him to send. So he sent the $900 as bonus payment on upwork. He then gave website details and work started.

Then after working for 3 to 4 hours this guy came back and informed me that the amount he sent for the Ads is too much so he needs a refund to take care of an emergency. He sent $900 so he needed refund of $500 for emergency. I agreed to refund on upwork but he said I should not do it on upwork because it is going to take days before the money hit his card. He said I should do it on paypal so that the money will be immediately available to him. Okay, that seems okay for me because once he has already sent me bonus payment it will surely be paid to me on upwork. Then stupidly hurriedly I opened my paypal and transferred $500 to his paypal account. So I told him he is left with less than $300 for the Ads because of some deductions.

So I setup some few Ads on facebook for the client. It was getting night time so I informed him. Client then said he thinks the facebook Ad alone is okay so we should end contract. He then ended the contract and gave me 5 stars with nice feedback which I also reciprocated. We did Little chat chat and then closed. He was so far my best client becasue he was so connected and concerned.. Okay I went to bed.

I woke up midnight to check my mail. I saw few mails but my heart pumped when I saw mail from upwork saying fraudulent activity detected. In summary Upwork has detected fraudulent activity with the client so they reversed all payment. I quickly opened my upwork account and saw pending:0. 00. Now all $900 bonus payment cancelled and money sent back to client.

I tried contacting client on skype but he has blocked me. All communication channels between me and client now blocked. Then I believed Upwork is a seer.

So now client has succeeded in taking my $500 on paypal. I am now totally stupid. How hard I worked to earn that money which he has succeeded in taking only my maker knows.

So my fellow freelancers always be careful. My stupidity was that I should have used upwork to refund him back the $500 but I did otherwise because I am father of two little kids and now I think and act innocently like my kids.

Community Member

Yeah never use paypal directly for any upworks jobs. This client seemed fishy from the beginning by offering you a bonus payment upfront of $900. You should always make yourself aware of the scams done on upworks and always look for something fishy from the get go, including even the files you download being scanned by your most up-to-date virus and malware software. 

Community Member

That’s terrible and no doubt the client did all his communication in Skype. It’s dangerous to discuss anything financial with an unfamiliar client outside of Upwork messaging because there’s no record of the discussion available to Upwork. 

"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Community Member

I am so sorry to hear that.


And thank you for sharing.

Hieu T
Vietnamese translator
Community Member

Mensah, quickly report this fraud to Paypal. They may be able to recover your payment.



Community Member

Yikes Mensah! I agree that you should try to pursue this through Paypal immediately in case they can recover your money.


I just want to add one other observation. This isn't intended to rub salt on the wound, this is for the benefit to others who might read so they can avoid getting scammed. Sometimes shady people hire freelancers to place ads for them using the freelancer's own account. To me, that is a red flag. Often they do this because their account was suspended for fraudulent advertising or terms of conditions violations. I don't think it is wise to place Facebook ads for a client form your account. Many legit clients give you a log-in to their Facebook page (not their profile) so you can set up the ad then they pay. If you happen to post scammy or spammy ads then you can get suspended from those platforms. 

Community Member

Yes he added me as admin to the fb page so I will paid for the Ad using the upfront payment.
Community Member

I have sent mail to paypal but I just got auto reply. I tried using the resolution center with the specific mail id but it says transaction can not be reversed.

Mensah, read this. https://www.paypal.com/us/selfhelp/article/how-do-i-report-potential-fraud-to-paypal-faq2422/1?chann...


If you don't find a solution there, call them. Don't delay.

Okay, thank you. I am doing it.

Please update the Paypal's decision here.


I called paypal but they said nothing they could do to reverse becuase I did choose the option of payment for service for the transfer.






Thank you for taking the time to provide your detailed description about what happened to you. And I commend you on your positive attitude about all this.


This thread can serve as a good lesson for those who read it:


It is fine to help clients with social media work and advertising, such as through AdWords. But as freelancers, we don't pay for their expenses and we don't put our own accounts on the line. These services have established tools and procedures for allowing employees, assistants, etc., to help.


If a client wants our help with advertising, it is the client's account and the client's money which should be used.


The client can pay me for my time AND provide her credit card number if necessary to set up an advertising account. I'm not paying for it.

@Preston H wrote:



If a client wants our help with advertising, it is the client's account and the client's money which should be used.



 This is a good rule for dealing with new clients, and perhaps even for working through Upwork. But, it's definitely not an industry norm. Marketers handle this in a variety of ways, including making advance payments and invoicing the client, having the client set up the account with his/her own credit card and taking a deposit from the client to spend against as campaigns progress.


Since many clients have this past experience, there isn't necessarily anything shady about a client who asks a marketer to pay for ads and invoice later. That's not to suggest that anyone here is obligated to or even should work that way, but it also isn't a sure sign of a dishonest client.



All you can save now is time. Don't lose any more of it in trying to undo this. Learn the lesson and move on. 

It was really naive from you. Hopefully you will learn from your mistake.
What I know is I wouldn't return a single dime. You paid. Done. 😂
Community Member

Hi , I want to ask that one of my clients released bonus money in hourly rate method,and now the money status is pending. what does this means, is the client can still get back that money which is in pending status or not? I think it is a scam because client is asking me to pay back him some money in payoneer and  also threatening me to report against me on upwrok. But I think i am being scammed by him 

Please guide me how can i report him on upwork?

Hi Shahzad,


I checked but couldn't find the contract you are referring to. Could you please send me a private message with the contract ID so that I can take a look and assist you further?

You can use the flag option found on each job post or message anytime you’d like to report a violation.


Thank you.

~ Aleksandar
Community Member



One of the upwork clinet scamed my money on last week, around 1000$, 

The client came through upwork and hired me, also sent some bonus on upwork and, asked for money through signetpay and PayU, I paid the money on that time. because he said a big story, some money needed for cancer treatment. It was a big scam. the money was on my Pending section suddenly upwork refunded the payment. I lost my money.
Is there any way to recover my money ?

Your money is gone forever. Upwork policy does not allow you to directly
send over money to someone else through a different payment platform apart
from the Upwork platform. Next time, when something like this happens, tell
the person to request for a refund from Upwork and let Upwork investigate
before you issue the refund.

Please learn from this and never repeat such mistakes again.
Two years ago, I also lost $500 through this same method. I never got my
money back.

Thanks you for the message.

Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Delight,


Looks like our team has reached out to you already regarding this case. Feel free to follow up with our team here if you have any questions or need assistance.


Thank you! 

~ Bojan
Community Member

Thank you for the message.

No, next time do not violate the ToS and you cannot get scammed like that.

Community Member

"but he said I should not do it on upwork because it is going to take days before the money:

scammers are always in emergency and hurry, TOS say no dealings outside upwok, its your own fault. I hope you will stay carefull from now on. best wishes. 

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