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atlal
Community Member

Scam and death threats, BEWARE

Hello fellow freelancers

 

TLDR; I'm victim of a scam because of a client on Upwork and now both my physical integrity and my upwork profile are at risk.

 

I have been approched by a 'client' who was looking for a research assistant to gather data on cryptocurrencies. He then contacted me via email, was very serious about the whole thing, supposedly turned me over to his 'uk assistant' (pretty sure it's the same person) who was supposed to coach me through the next steps. 

At this point this client asked for my bank details and my adress because he apparently needed them for administrative reasons, which I gave him, thinking it wouldn't be a big deal.

 

A couple days later the 'uk assistant' tells me that one of their clients is wiring money to my account and basically explains that I will be transfering a percentage of that to an online crypto investment. Now so far, everything is supposed to be tracable, so in case I get in any trouble I'm supposed to be able to show proof.

I ask him for a contract, he then send me a PDF contract with a fake adress and signature. I did not sign anything and did not agree to anything.

 

He then tells me that I will need to use cash for the transactions, instant red flag. My bank alerts me that the coming wire transfer is from a hacked account, I explain the situation to my bank, I then block this person (uk assistant) because he keeps harassing me about the wire transfer 'did you get it yet' every hour, so since I know it's a scam and didn't want to argue the whole thing I just block him on whatsapp.

 

Then I alert upwork about the fake user, especially because he had hundreds of interviews on that job and someone miht have actually lost their money to this.

 

He keeps sending me emails that he sent police and detectives to my house because I stole his money (he's delirious), he sends multiples threaths, but the biggest one arrived a few hours ago, where he said :

 

""

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

 

This is extremely violent and he indeed can executehe threats because he actually does have all that information, which I was stupid enough to give because I've been on upwork for over 7 years and never had any security or trust issue.

 

I would like to note that I never got any of the funds because they were coming from a hacked account so the bank handles that and I signed a document saying that I was refusing the transfer.

 

After I flagged the 'client' and told him about it, my account got flagged and suspended for accepting paiement outside of upwork, which never happened.

I'm very confused about the whole situation and I've talked to customer support multiple times but apparently to no avail (my account is back on track but they still insist that I violated their rules which I didn't).

 

So if anyones comes across a *** Edited for Community Guidelines ***, run away!

 

Thank you! I'm quite distressed about the whole situation at the moment.

 

 

 

 

37 REPLIES 37
holymell
Community Member

Wow.

First of all, call your bank and see if you can't change accounts if this Upwork thug has your information.

Good that you've reported him. I know they'll edit your post, though, so not many people will see the information like what company name he goes by.

This man threatened to throw acid in your face and put you in the hospital.

The sad thing is that while Upwork should and likely will delete his job post and his account, he can simply make a new email and use a different credit card. That's why there are so many scammers here.

This is legitimately terrifying. I'm so sorry this happened to you on Upwork. I never thought people like that would have client accounts here, but there's no way (unfortunately) for Upwork to know that any client will literally threaten to disfigure you. Wow.

I hope this person goes to jail. This is repulsive.

atlal
Community Member

Thank you for your reply, I am utterly lost and actually extemely surprised by the Upwork support because I keep having to prove that it's "the same person" and my account and honesty being questionned while this person is litteraly threatening my life. The IP adress from his email are in the middle of a river in the US so he's definitely covered his tracks, I am absolutely shocked and also very guilty because I now realise I have been so stupid and naive to give me him my information. 

barada00
Community Member

Don't heed the threats. It's their last resort to get some money from you. If that's a hacked account, they didn't spend anything from their own pocket and they won't look for you. You can report to the police though...

holymell
Community Member

You are not stupid.

A lot of people are trusting and that's good thing. But it is a double edged sword because when you're too trusting, people take advantage of you.

Don't be so hard on yourself. Take it as a lesson learned. I think a lot of us have been taken advantage of by clients (bad ones, obviously) and it is no fun.

Never have I had a client threaten to disfigure my face by throwing acid in it.

No, the threats are probably all bluster just to get you to send money. Doesn't make his words any less terrifying.

Call your local police as well, just in case.

I hope everything works out for you.
tlsanders
Community Member

I'm sure this is frightening and stressful, but keep this in mind: he already told you that he'd dispatched police and detectives to your house, and they did not come. They did not come because that was not an option available to him, and he wanted to scare you. When that bluff failed, he upped his game. He's likely panicking because he answers to someone, and the money is now lost in the ether somewhere, and he will be held responsible for it.

 

That said, he made a physical threat, and that's a crime in most places. I don't know what country the client is in, but if you have adequate information, report him to the appropriate police agency. 

atlal
Community Member

 Hi Tiffany!

I did not for one second believe the threat that the police or whatever were going to come because there was no basis for it, he's the one who commited the crime, and he did not have anything to charge me with.

However, the threat to my physical is very real, because in that case he does not need anything else other than him or a motivated person to do that, no process or anything involved.

So up until that last one, I was laughing things off because it was very funny to see him play out his little stories about detectives and his 'client', but now I'm not so sure anymore ...

atlal
Community Member

And I'm in France, I did alert the police and they considered that a death threat. I'm just pretty sure nothing will be done about this because he has covered his tracks and they usually don't really investigate tech that much, I do hope he will be found and prosecuted though!

 

tlsanders
Community Member

I don't blame you. Anyone would be frightened, being threatened that way by some faceless person on the Internet that you don't even know how to protect against. But, he already showed you that he threatens things he can't/won't do. Chances are very, very good that this most recent threat is no different.

 

After all, if he really had that option, why would he not simply have sent someone to your door to rough you up and intimidate you into giving his money back? His ranting hints at powerlessness.

 

Still, call the police.

atlal
Community Member

Thank you all for your support and reassurance, you're right Tiffany, given his record it's baseless threaths, and than you Melissa for the kind words, I have also had bad clients (after all it's been over 7 years, I'm used to all kinds of 'em!) and have always learned my lesson with each and every one of them, I guess this one will be no different.

Well I can sleep soundly now because I have another perspective on this whole thing!

 

tlsanders
Community Member

Atlal, it looks like you don't post in the forums much, but it would be great if you'd check back in as this plays out so we know you're safe.

atlal
Community Member

I'll make sure to check in if I have any news! Thank you.

holymell
Community Member

Yes, please report back.

I'm so sorry you had to deal with this low-life. I will never understand how someone could treat another human being like that.

You did nothing to deserve that. At all. No one deserves that. Not even the guy who threatened you deserves that. He sure does deserve to go to jail, though.
cylver1z
Community Member

Hello Atlal,

 

I'm sorry to hear that. I just reported the client to our team. They are now taking a look at your concern. Please avoid giving your personal information to your clients especially your bank accounts and address. You may also read this helpful article to avoid questionable jobs. Thank you.


Untitled

Before Katherine hops in ...  this is why maps on our profiles is WRONG.  Very very wrong.

 

Atlal, I'm so sorry - and I do know the French police take this type of threat etremely seriously.  Please keep us posted

This is just awful.  Tiffany is totally right, but still...very uncomfortable for you.  So sorry this happened.

Edit. Sorry I'm on mobile and can't quote, this is in regards to the maps on our profiles.

This is a great point. I would like to see this change. This is creepy. It should be enough to just list what state/province and time zone we're in.

I don't want some crazed lunatic threatening to throw acid in my face to know even my approximate location.

Atial, (beautiful name by the way) Iโ€™m also very sorry to learn about your experience. The others have given you great advice. Iโ€™ll just add one word to itโ€”-karma. He WILL get his! Wendy, you know I must comment about the maps and noting our specific locations. Itโ€™s SO wrong on so many levels. Hopefully UW will realize that sooner rather than later and make some positive changes regarding this.

You are not LYING!! This feature should NOT be on our profile. My reasons is since my name is rare it would not be hard to find me, I guess.

elastella
Community Member

Atlal B wrote:

Hello fellow freelancers

 

TLDR; I'm victim of a scam because of a client on Upwork and now both my physical integrity and my upwork profile are at risk.

 

I have been approched by a 'client' who was looking for a research assistant to gather data on cryptocurrencies. He then contacted me via email, was very serious about the whole thing, supposedly turned me over to his 'uk assistant' (pretty sure it's the same person) who was supposed to coach me through the next steps. 

At this point this client asked for my bank details and my adress because he apparently needed them for administrative reasons, which I gave him, thinking it wouldn't be a big deal.

 

A couple days later the 'uk assistant' tells me that one of their clients is wiring money to my account and basically explains that I will be transfering a percentage of that to an online crypto investment. Now so far, everything is supposed to be tracable, so in case I get in any trouble I'm supposed to be able to show proof.

I ask him for a contract, he then send me a PDF contract with a fake adress and signature. I did not sign anything and did not agree to anything.

....

 

Here's the thing I don't understand: were you ever hired by this client? You talk about being "approached" (invited?) and "asking for a contract" only after you provided your personal data - why would he need to send you a contract if he had hired you? How was he going to pay you? Were you supposed to just keep some of the money he was going to wire into your private bank account?

Did all of this happen in the "interview stage"? 

 

Don't get me wrong - what happened to you is a nightmare and that "client" is a horrible criminal.

And I hope he'll be held accountable.

 

But you say you've been on the platform for 7 years and I'm confused why you seemed to agree to collaborate with this person without a contract ("I did not sign anything and did not agree to anything")- maybe I got it wrong and you were hired properly before all this went down.

 

atlal
Community Member

Hi Ela!

 

Here are the answers to your comments :

 

- He never hired me on Upwork, everything went through the interview, which isn't uncommon and doesn't look suspicious to me. Given the timeline, I had no work involved up until the point where he transfered the hacked account's money, so I didn't worry about any contract whatsoever because there was nothing I did for this client. I was supposed to do research, and he was supposed to let me know when and what he was looking for, so at that point I assumed he will hire when he will need it

-

Given the 'special' (oh I should've known) nature of the dealings, since he was supposed to send people's money to me to handle, I assumed his request was legit. After all, if you're going to trust someone with your clients' money, might as well have their adress and info if it's someone who's going to a part of an 'organisation'. He said he needed all of that for the company he was creating in France, given the short timeline (he said about a week) it didn't bother me.

 

- As much as I have had bad clients and seen clear scams on the site, this didn't cross me as one at first because of the legitimacy of everything he said/did. It did make sense at the time, and everything was going through a normal 'system'. I did have my doubts but up until I realised this guy didn't send me an Upwork contract when I asked for a contract and asked for cash transactions, the whole thing basically crashed at the same time, it wasn't an ongoing realisation. He screwed it up at night and in the morning I had the bank on the phone, and Upwork support in the afternoon. 

 

- For the money and paiement, I wasn't supposed to keep any of what was coming to my bank account, he was supposed to pay me monthly for both the research and transactions and fixed fee, which is logically via Upwork because I do have to justify funds and can't send him an invoice or anything, so I'm supposed to handle his clients' money for 'test transfers' to test the French market, and basically be his assistant for research etc. But like I said, since I didn't do any research or work at that point I just asked for a contract when I realised things were actually moving, and the morning after the whole thing was done.

 

- I get that from an outside perspective the whole thing screams scam, but once I was rolled in it it didn't really strike me as much as it does now that I think about it. I guess actually talking on the phone with this person and having my concerns 'solved' as soon as I brought them up made me lose the suspicion I could have had.

 

I hope I cleared things up!

 

petra_r
Community Member


@atlal B wrote:
Given the timeline, I had no work involved up until the point where he transfered the hacked account's money, so I didn't worry about any contract whatsoever because there was nothing I did for this client.
.
.

I hope I cleared things up!

 


 You are missing the point Ela was trying to make subtly...

If you accept any payment from any client OUTSIDE Upwork (whether you are "supposed to keep it" or not) your account can be suspended and banned because that is the one terms of service violation Upwork does not have any sense of humor about at all. This is partly to protect Upwork, but also protect those who fall for dumb scams (fake checks, money laundering and so on) and end up in deep trouble.

 

Obviously no real client would ever dream of sending REAL money to the bank account of some random stranger on the internet so the fact that this was a scam was obvious from the get go, unfortunately.

 

 

atlal
Community Member

Hi Petra! That's the point I'm trying to make: I did not accept payment outside of upwork, because that was not paiement at all (it was supposedly part of the job, if there was a job), and I refused the transfer, my bank has the document, so never at any point did I accept outisde paiement, not from him and not from his 'clients'. I was supposed to get paid by the client after each 30day period, which makes sense as well if we're talking about a fixed fee. He even had that in his job post!

 

 

petra_r
Community Member


@atlal B wrote:

Hi Petra! That's the point I'm trying to make: I did not accept payment outside of upwork, because that was not paiement at all (it was supposedly part of the job, if there was a job), and I refused the transfer,


 Just to be clear: You must never agree to receive any money (of any sort, in any way, for any reason or purpose) from an Upwork client (unless you're exempt because of the 2 year rule or the client bought you out.) You "refused the payment" after the bank told you it was dodgy ๐Ÿ˜‰

In short: Don't do it again.

Not beating you up, just clarifying, and I really hope you've blocked that scammer and that's the end of it.

 

 

But the point is that to Upwork there's no distinction between money that is payment and money that is "part of the job."

 

It may be just the way you're wording it, but it sounds like you were going along with the pdf contract and wiring money to your bank (why else would you have given your information to them?) until at some point you realized something seemed fishy and then you bailed out. But there is no non-fishy way that a client can wire money to your bank account, no way that doesn't blatantly violate Upwork's rules.

 

"Yeah, but I never quite crossed the line and actually accepted a bank wire" isn't a very good position to be in. The very fact that you went right up to the line is totally weird coming from someone who has been at Upwork for seven years.

Hi Craig!

 

Thank you for your answer. Like I said from the beggining, I can't even believe now how stupid the whole thing is because of all the red flags I let pass, but the fact that I spoke with this person and all the reassurance he gave me 'in person' just made me blind to all of it until it became clear that it was in motion. 

I was not okay with any of it, not the PDF, and not the wire transfers. I did tell him from the very beggining that this was something that I was concerned for personal liability and tax issues, and he still had answers for everything.

When I did ask him on the phone about the fact that I was concerned about the whole paiement issue he precisely told me that it was a test and will not be 'the job' because the transfers will then be made on the structure that was 'currently being made', and that I will be paid monthly (he refered to the job post) for my services as an assistant.
Basically I was not too regarding for the one job and the one client I should have been the most careful with.

I realise this is not a behaviour someone with that much experience on upwork can have, but I made a stupid mistake and the ball kept rolling from there. 

I do know that this whole thing is as weird as the situation but I guess it will be a very hard learned lesson for me! And I thought I'd seen it all...

 

Hello,

 

I am new to Upwork and someone just invited me to interview and it sounds like the same situation. I haven't agreed to anything yet. We went into our personal emails and he gave me more information on dealing with payment accounts research for him and his partners. Said he has someone in UK to guide me and I will need to set up a Zelle account. I looked into Zelle and just saw I would need to enter my bank information, which I absolutely will not. I intend on telling him I will no be able to accept this job. Maybe I should report it? Also unsure. I was just so excited at first but it started to seem a bit "off". He wouldn't answer any of my questions either. 

chocolatier7
Community Member

The client threaten to throw acid in your face?! This is something I would let the FBI know about. This is more than just a scam, this sounds almost like money laudering. I believe I saw a post discussing gathering data cryptocurrencies and did not even give it a thought because it sounded suspicious. Talk about red flags waving!

He just sent me this two minutes ago, so it really does not stop, I don't even get why he keeps sending me messages like this!

 

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

atlal
Community Member

 *WARNING: Language*

 **Edited for Community Guidelines**

 

 

 

holymell
Community Member

He's trying to scare you into giving him money. What a disgusting creep. He thinks if he harasses you enough you'll cave and pay him the money he never sent you, except his money was fake and yours would be real.

Report all of it to the police. In your country and his.

How much was the "wire transfer" supposed to be? Surely he'd be spending more than that to have a goon follow you around and shove money into your body...

There was never any money, he won't spend real money on this, so the best he can do is hope to terrify you into giving the "money" back.

Keep reporting to Upwork and the police.
atlal
Community Member

The wire transfer was supposed to be something like $2 K, so it's not even that much, serisouly my laptop costs more than that!

I don't know his real country though, that's part of the problem. I have no idea where he really is.

Thank you all for your perspective and support, I really appreciate it and it made me see things diffently and in a more logical light.

Thank you all, have a great day, I'll make sure to checkin if I have any news!

odinsql
Community Member

I wouldn't worry about the treats. This is known as the Nigerian 419  scam. Block their email and eventually they'll get tired of bothering you when they find another victim. 

Moderators - it strikes me that this situation more than merits your updated input as to what is being done to lay to rest Atlal's concerns ... within ToS guidelines of course.

 

 

Hi Wendy! Thank you for the input, this thing indeed cost me all my current interviws because they were suspended with the profile and it also cost me my Top Rated badge, I think it's bad enough I have to handle this lunatic and now I have to lose my hard work too.

petra_r
Community Member


@atlal B wrote:

Hi Wendy! Thank you for the input, this thing indeed cost me all my current interviws because they were suspended with the profile and it also cost me my Top Rated badge, I think it's bad enough I have to handle this lunatic and now I have to lose my hard work too.


 Atlal, you don't have to "handle this lunatic" - just block him on your email etc. He is far, far away and isn't going to do anything. At all

As for your top rated badge being gone, that is a result of your ToS violation. You'll be blocked from Top Rated for 90 days.

 

Wendy, what could Upwork possibly "do" other than what they will already have done - suspend the client account?

 

tlbp
Community Member

What TOS violation is that? 

petra_r
Community Member


@Tonya P wrote:

What TOS violation is that? 


 Agreeing to accept funds (for whatever reason or whatever purpose) outside the platform.

 

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