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Re: Scammers Trolling Upwork - VENTING

Active Member
Michael Z Member Since: Feb 9, 2021
1 of 9

I was approached by a scammer yesterday (3/1/2021). Got a message for an interview from a proposal. Wanted to do it on Skype, text only. (FLAGS!). I have not had any interviews yet (newbie - new to freelancing, not to the work), and went along, mostly because I was caught unawares.


Soon he said, "I will like you to know that we will contact Upwork to remove the post on their site as we will be working directly with Employees.. So if they contact you, you don't have to be scared of surprises okay." (SUPER BIG FLAGS!). After answering some questions, he offered me the job at a higher rate than I quoted in the proposal. Then he wanted me to start training this Wednesday, but I was going to have to come up with some different computer hardware and software. (TOO GREEDY). 


The list of software included Microsoft SQL Server Business Intelligence (WHICH IS FREE, BY THE WAY), Peachtree  Complete Accounting Software (WHICH IS NO LONGER PEACHTREE!), and Quickbooks Enterprise Solution version 13.6 (QB IS ON VERSION 21.0 NOW). Plus a MacBook Pro (Intel Core i7 1.2GHz Processor 256GB Storage) (A CONFIGURATION WHICH DOES NOT EXIST). 


He emailed a check for $1700 to help with the purchases and wanted me to sign the picutre of the back of the check, take a photo, and email it back to wait for confirmation of deposit. (RIGHT!). The check was on a personal account from a guy in Ebensburg, PA, check #108 (haven't written too many, huh?) because, "

This account was opened personal for employees as we are given out funds for the materials Ok?"


I told him I needed to research the company, and he did not like waiting. He wanted the check signed in an hour and the contractor signed before that. A quick check on his email for the check and contract show that the domain was set up February 4, a month ago. And it's not the same domain as the company's. (NOT BRIGHT)


I flagged this as inappropriate and phishng and a scam. I wanted it to be true because I have been trying to get going here on Upwork, but it's difficult when you have no portfolio. You can't the jobs without, and you can't build the portfolio without the jobs. Catch-22. I have been out of the proofreading/copy/editing arena for nearly 20 years, but now I'm back as a freelancer (thank you COVID!). 


Sorry for venting. Hope I did things ok in not taking the job, finding out what I could, and reporting him/they to Customer Support. Job is still up:


Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
2 of 9

That is one of the most frequent scams. You did well to dodge it. As a newcomer, assume any invitations you receive are bogus. On this highly competitive platform, no worthwhile client is out fishing for newbies.


It is a ToS violation to communicate with any prospective client outside the UW platform until you have a contract in place. That is partly to discourage circumvention and partly to protect inexperienced FLs. Scammers rely on you being unfamiliar with the rules and eager to land a gig. So, get familiar with the rules and treat the marketplace like the casbah that it is. Many lucrative transactions are conducted every day -- every hour -- but it those who prosper here pay attention at all times.


Step out of the no portfolio/no work feedback loop by creating some pieces from scratch and/or finding some pro bono tasks you can do for worthy organizations in your community. 


Freelancing is a long game -- not necessarily welcome words to those who are here as Covid refugees from the W-2 world. But if you have marketable skills, approach it like you're running a small biz (which you are), caare inclined to keep your head and avoid drama, and are prepared to persevere, it can be very worthwhile. (I came to UW nearly six years ago w/ 20 years as an independent contractor under my belt. It took a month to land my first contract, another month to land the second, and another 6-8 months to start really building traction.) 


This may sound counterintuitive but until you get at least a dozen closed contracts on your record, be more picky about accepting contracts and clients than you'll ever be again. Any successfull UW FL will tell you their worst instances of things going sideways and costing money and/or job history points, were from taking on projects they shouldn't have -- poor fit, flaky client, whatever. It takes experience to develop your spidy sense and you will make mistakes. But if you are a person who can look objectively at what happened and why, and learn from it, you'll likely succeed.


Last but not least, avail yourself of this forum when you have questions. It's an authentic community where lots of successful FLs are generous with their time and advice.


Good luck!


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Active Member
Michael Z Member Since: Feb 9, 2021
3 of 9

Thanks for the quick response and encouragment. So many times it feels like I'm just sending proposals off into outer space and they never come back to Earth. <SIGH> I know it takes time. Working the plan.

Thanks for the idea about creating pieces from scratch or pro-bono. After 17 years in full-time ministry, I think I know where I can reach out and help. 

Thanks again.

Active Member
Rita D Member Since: Jul 10, 2019
4 of 9

Thank you for bringing this up. I have flagged a few inappropriate posts by clients. Why would a client require 99 freelancers for transcription work in one language, and after "interviewing" a whole lot of freelancers (70+), no one has been hired months later?


This is just one of the ways in which people in our country (I wouldn't know about others) have been targeted by people in certain countries, via emails and telephone calls, and lately on Upwork. I have become more and more cautious, even on Upwork. This has never been a problem on Upwork, but since last year, I have come across many suspicious clients or so-called "opportunities". For instance, I viewed one project this morning after doing a search for opportunities in my country. Why would a client's location show a specific country, but a different time zone??


Upwork management, please protect your users and block these scammers. This is an amazing platform. Please keep it that way. Work is scarce at this time and we need this platform. Thank you.

Active Member
Monica D F Member Since: Apr 19, 2021
5 of 9

I'm brand new to the platform also, and so far, I'm 3 for 3 to the scammers. They're not very original. But, it's costing me connections that I don't want to waste. I hope you've gotten some legitimate work by now. I know the feeling of being in that catch-22. I have plenty of confidence in my skills, but until I actually land a few gigs, I have no way to show it.

Bojan S Moderator Member Since: Mar 9, 2018
6 of 9

Hi Monica D,


Thank you for flagging this for us and for helping us keep Upwork a safe and trusted marketplace! We return Connects when a client closes their job without hiring or we find a job post has violated our Terms of Service. You can find more information here. If you see a violation of the Upwork Terms of Service, we encourage you to use Report Suspicious User Activity feature. 


Please check our Stay Safe series and learn more on how to work safe online:

~ Bojan
Active Member
Solomon A Member Since: Apr 19, 2021
7 of 9

To go along with what some of the others are saying, find jobs that cater to those on Upwork without previous clients or a large portfolio. The work is often grueling and pays nearly nothing (my first job on Upwork was for a client paying $.01 per word for articles around 1000 words or so.) but it gets your foot in the door and helps larger clients actively consider you and your experience, as opposed to seeing you have no work done in Upwork.

Active Member
Michael Z Member Since: Feb 9, 2021
8 of 9

The only problem with focusing on clients who are focusing on newbies and people with no portfolios is that they are often scammers, people who know you are desparate for that first job or another one to increase your job standing. 

Community Guru
Bettye U Member Since: Mar 6, 2016
9 of 9

I flagged three jobs today that all had telltale signs of being scams:


1) They just joined Upwork and have no hiring history

2) Their ads are full of errors in grammar, spelling, and capitalization

3) They claim to be launching a new product or service: a magazine, blog posts, a new branch

4) They offer good pay for "entry level" freelancers


They used to say they wanted to hire multiple freelancers, but they don't seem to do that much anymore.