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Threatened & extorted by client

dkatria
Active Member
Katarina Đ Member Since: Aug 31, 2017
1 of 53

I've worked with a client on 5 contracts that ended with 5 star reviews and client's words of praise. In the middle of 6th one client kept pushing me to talk about future projects (we NEVER discussed full time position) and when I kindly told him I won't be available for big projects after that one, because of work and university classes + exams, he literally wrote "well if you can't work on future projects maybe I can't pay for this one" which is quite obviously blackmail. I notified upwork support with screenshots immediately but days passed before I received any answer. And when I did receive one they simpy said that "client is just not happy with the work I did" even though I have screenshots of him praising that particular work and despite obvious blackmail.

In the mean time he closed the contract and requested all 700$ back. It's important to note that I have already finished more than half of the work which has been sent to him (on shared onedrive folder which is my mistake). I had to listen to his threats, new blackmails, frivolous accusations and name-calling for almost a week, before Dispute team entered the conversation. Dispute agent informed me that client and I have come to an agreement and to send files as soon as possible. I reuploaded files immediately (now to my own dropbox) and sent them to client but heard nothing from him ever since. That dispute is still open.

One of the threats client has made is to request a charge back with his bank because "HE'S THE CUSTOMER AND THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT" and he didn't like not getting all files for free and me opening that dispute. He has now indeed requested a charge back on one of the past orders. Upwork representative is telling me that it is due to his billing problems but it CLEARLY ISN'T as he threatened to do it just out of spite.

My account is now blocked until I repay him etc. I am beyond disappointed and mad that all of my provided screenshots of those threats & blackmails went on unanswered and that I was left all alone to deal with agressive and unreasonable client. I am also scared that he will request a charge back for all past orders, since he is obviously on a spree. I am honestly concerned for my well being as he has made several more accusations & threats and is obviously mad enough to see them through.

Community, please advise me as to what I should do in this situation.

I'm a struggling student, trying to earn for a scholarship via upwork, and this is not helping AT ALL.

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
2 of 53

The first thing to do would be to scale back the drama and focus in on your objective. You have good reason to be upset, but it's hard to keep anyone's eye on the ball or get them to take you seriously when you seem to be implying that the client is going to hunt you down and harm you, and you either don't know what "blackmail" means or are using the word for dramatic effect.

 

There are real issues here, It's to your advantage to avoid the distracting hyperbole.

 

Some of what you've written here doesn't seem to make sense. For example, you say that the dispute team "informed you" that you had come to an agreement with the client. Did you come to an agreement or not? The disute team can't decide that--either you and the client reached an agreement or you did not.

 

If you did reach an agreement, was it an agreement that BOTH required you to turn over the files AND entitled the client to a refund? I can't understand why you would have agreed to that, but it seems that you're saying that pursuant to the agreement, you turned over the files and now your account is blocked until you give the client a refund.

 

Did you enter into an agreement?

If so, what were the terms?

If not, why did you not proceed to arbitration?

 

This whole story is very hazy.

lysis10
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
3 of 53

I took the "block" as he did a chargeback and she can't get her funds. Elance did the same thing during a dispute. Even when the money has been released, if the client disputes the funds are deducted from your account until it's done. It's a b. Not sure if Upwork does the same thing since I've only disputed what's in escrow. 


My arbitration last 3 months and during that time I had $500 in the negative and $300 in dispute. Luckily, I had a real job so it wasn't a big deal.

dkatria
Active Member
Katarina Đ Member Since: Aug 31, 2017
4 of 53

Hi Tiffany, thanks for tuning in.

 

I honestly don't know what could be a definition of blackmail if not - someone threatening to do something if you don't agree to his terms. He also repedetly tried to accuse of various things - like forcing him to download a font for personal use to later be used commercially. That of course is not the case. He also tried to accuse me of planning to send him virus files lol. 

He also basically said "if she gets paid anything I will request a charge back and file a claim with paypal" and that is a threat for me and blackmail for Upwork. I am aware there are more serious cases of blackmail, but this as well is blackmail even if on a smaller matter.

Dispute agent informed me that the client has agreed to pay me 300$ if I send him files we agreed on. I accepted and was told that I need to send files ASAP. I did that, and am still waiting for any kind of reply from the client.
Apparently he was too busy with requesting a charge back.

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
5 of 53

@Katarina D wrote:

Hi Tiffany, thanks for tuning in.

 

I honestly don't know what could be a definition of blackmail if not - someone threatening to do something if you don't agree to his terms.

 

Blackmail has a very specific meaning, which is to threaten to expose damaging information about a person if he/she doesn't do something. It's not just "threatening to do something"--a person can threaten to fire you, kill you, vandalize your car, sue you (and so on, and so on, for every threat that isn't "I will tell this secret thing about you" and it's not blackmail.

 

If I were in your shoes, I would be looking into chargeback fraud, which is a crime it sounds as if your client is actually committing.

 


 

dkatria
Active Member
Katarina Đ Member Since: Aug 31, 2017
6 of 53

I'm sorry, in my language/country threat is something that isn't conditioned by actions of the person who is threatened ("I will kill you") and a blackmail would be conditioned by that ("I will kill you if you don't do this and that"). Even with the language barrier getting in the way I still consider his *threats* very serious and unsuited for a professional platform like Upwork. Unsuited for every area of life actually. And I don't see why he is let loose.

 

Thank you for the advice. I would definitely be interested in that, tho I'm not sure who to go to with it. Keep in mind I'm from Serbia, and my client is claiming he's from Jamaica on one place and from UK on another. I'm not sure if it's a matter for international lawsuits. But even if it were, like I mentioned I am a struggling student and don't have resources for that.

 

But I do expect some sort of protection from Upwork, since we are paying them a 20% fee for something, right?

dkatria
Active Member
Katarina Đ Member Since: Aug 31, 2017
7 of 53

To make things more clear, we have 5 finished contracts and he requested a charge back for the biggest one of them, and that one was closed more than a month ago.

 

This dispute is about a sixth contract and I didn't receive any payment yet, despite hearing that client has agreed to a proposal and despite sending all the files, now through my own Dropbox, so they can't be manipulated.

 

My account is blocked from whitdrawing funds until I repay 225$ charged back by a client out of pure spite.

dkatria
Active Member
Katarina Đ Member Since: Aug 31, 2017
8 of 53

I just hope that he gets banned from running a business ever again. No human being should have to deal with that level of agression and immaturity.

lysis10
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
9 of 53

Don't worry. You will get your money. It takes them a few days to release it after the agreement.

dkatria
Active Member
Katarina Đ Member Since: Aug 31, 2017
10 of 53

The problem is that Dispute agent told me they need a *confirmation* from the client (since it is non-binding agreement), and I'm betting they aren't gonna get that.

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