Student scamming for free exam help?

I was recently invited, along with 31 other finance freelancers, to interview for a Senior Financial Manager role with Timberland.


This post, before it was abruptly closed, had 51 applicants and over 20 confirmed interviews.


The poster has an unconfirmed client account. This person contacted me with a pseudonym that may have been clever play on the most famous handbag designer.


The posting client added me in Skype, contacted me and set up a 2 PM - 3:30 PM MST Wed Nov 26 date to do a screening test. While we chatted, he or she sent me a screenshot from a University of Utah Finance quiz, with the professor's name shown, as an example of the type of material I would need to cover during my screening test. 


I grew suspicious for many reasons, and a little later today, I asked the poster for the job description and his or her identity. He or she posted a Sears job description. Sears is not Timberland. I asked for his or her professional profile, and he or she became evasive, refusing to reveal his or her identity. 


Within one minute of that confrontation, the job posting was closed, and within a few more minutes, two more sprung up in its place, copy/pasted from the original.


I have no compunction about posting any of this publicly, because there is absolutely no way a legitimate client would throw away a posting with over 20 confirmed interviews just one minute after an inconvenient yet cordial confrontation about trust - and then follow it by posting two more identical ones. 


My strong suspicion is that this person is  student attempting to line up a stable of oDesk finance experts to remain online and provide free Skype consultation during a take home midterm exam.


This is such a waste of time for all concerned. It irks me that oDesk is so easy to penetrate with scam postings like these. Still, I am fascinated at the resourcefulness of today's "life hackers."


I'm posting this as a warning to anyone dealing with this person, and as a point of discussion. And yes, I reported the original posting as inappropriate.


I'm not really sure what oDesk can do to stop students from coming here other than try to remove the posts when they are submitted.


I guess oDesk could review every post before it goes live but given how quickly oDesk works to solve other issues, it would probably take three weeks for them to decide if a job posting is okay.


I once had a person who wanted to hire me to take his whole online course to get a Master's in Education. He wanted me to participate in the discussions, attend the online classes as well as do all the assignments and tests. He then expressed concern about how well I would do because these were "his marks".


I just told him the job's not for me and ended  the interview.

Community Manager
Community Manager

Thanks for reporting this violation Alan, our policy team will review and take appropriate action. 


oDesk takes academic fraud seriously and we will review and address any violation of our policies around this type of work.


Welcome to the lions' den, Vladimir   Man Wink  Smiley Happy With respect, Vladimir, the job listings are riddled with examples of academic fraud - so much so there nearly seems no point in flagging it. Does anything actually get done by oDesk if, for example, I flag a job looking for someone to write a class assignment which the client is quite obviously going to pass of as their own work in an attempt to fraudulently gain an academic qualification.?



This just came in:


Urgently Need an Academic Writer to Write a Literature Review

Fixed Price - Est. Budget: $20 - Posted 12 minutes ago
I have a Master's thesis proposal that needs a new Literature Review. The one that I have currently is just the sources that I used with short descriptions. This has to be turned into a proper Literature Review. If needed, I can supply the rest of the proposal. Editing skills are not critical, as I will need to adapt the Literature Review to the proposal, anyway. However, I NEED to be able to understand what you meant. I will prefer candidates with academic writing experience and who can show me their previous work. Apart from that, I will look at all candidates. This job needs to be done as soon as possible, so I can only give you a few days time to finish it. 3 days is the maximum amount and I cannot give extensions.
I rest my case......

Not only does this client want to cheat, he doesn't want to pay more than $20 while doing it. It's just sad all around really.



It may be time for oDesk to require identity confirmation of clients before they are permitted to post jobs. oDesk is evolving. The new minimum hourly rate has been promoted as a blend of social responsibility and quality control. 


I appreciate that the volume of new clients, more than that of freelancers, drives growth of the community. New paying clients bring new revenues to the platform.


However, for a new, unconfirmed client to hijack the corporate brand of Timberland in an attempt to game the interview system is unacceptable. Please see the attached screen capture.


I have left links to the job postings off of these posts, in compliance with the community guidelines. However, I would like to share the disappointing fact that this same poster's two follow-up Senior Financial Manager job posts are still active today.


Your thoughts?

I'm not sure if client verification will work. I think it would take too long and scare off legitimate potential clients. Often, clients just want to check out if they can find a decent freelancer first before sharing a lot of details with the site.


If every client was subjected to identity verification, they would probably just go elsewhere. Unfortunately, I think it may come down to freelancers not taking these kinds of jobs but I don't see that working either. Some freelancers will take any sort of job if the price is right (and even if it isnt).


oDesk should have some sort of system in place that once a job posting is flagged and removed, the IP address and the client profile should be banned.  Clients can still get around this but at least it will make it a little bit more difficult for scammers to continually post new jobs.

Good perspective, David. Anything oDesk does to control access throttles growth. Still, growth at any cost may not be the absolute highest priority at this point in the platform's lifecycle. eLance brought to the mix a focus on lasting mutually beneficial relationships, and this influence may foster additional attention to improving the quality of the community.


For a new fake profile to pose as the finance recruiting arm of a reputable international fashion brand in order to gain free help on a finance exam is destructive to the community. This person invited 32 of the most highly qualified freelancers on oDesk to his job interview scam. 23 of 51 invited accepted the interview. The pool of those who accepted the interview averaged $20/hour. See attached.