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eeb179a1
Community Member

Today I dont know if I just got scammed by a client or by upwork or by both? Help me!

So there was this client who hired me to do a voice over job about a month ago. Everything went well, the contract was 350$, so after upwork fee 20% (70$), I had 280$ in my account. Well, isnt that completed? I got my job done and I got paid and I also paid 20% charge to upwork fee. Now, this morning, I recieved an email from Upwork telling me that, the client of this contract had their bank reverse back their payment, so Upwork is freezing my balance and asked me to pay them back 350$ or else my balance will be frozen and they will pull the fund out of my available balance. This means that, even after I completed the job and ended the contract, I still risk getting scammed? Not only do I have to pay back for my job, but I also have to pay full price 350$? How about the 70$(20%) that they deducted from then? So, I got scammed by the client 350$, then 70$ more from upwork? Is this a joke or something?

 

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

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renata101
Community Member

Hi SokSambath, 

I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you. Unfortunately, freelancers have been reporting a lot of chargeback scams in the last six months or so. 

I think that everyone who works on Upwork should read this article because scams are becoming more popular.


https://community.upwork.com/t5/Community-Blog/Top-Red-Flags-for-Scams-From-Community-Member-Wes-C/b...




Was there anything that seemed odd about the contract otherwise? It looks like the client asked you to do a 5-minute voice over. I don't know how much time it takes to produce 5 minutes of clear audio, but $350 seems like a largish budget for what might be an hour or two of work (but maybe not outrageous because it looks like it was a very last-minute request).

In retrospect, was there anything that seemed unusual about the script? 

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53 REPLIES 53
martina_plaschka
Community Member

The client scammed you, not upwork. Upwork does not earn their fee when the client initates a chargeback. 

As you were told, you need to take that up with your client. Upwork can't do anything if they go to their bank and charge back that payment, except banning the client since this is not allowed. 

 

Hello, Martina, thank you for your reply.

 

but how is banning a con artist going to help with anything? What about upwork payment protection thing? Is it just for show?

Payment protection isn't quite just for show, but there is no protection for fixed-price contracts. You're a bit safer with properly-logged hourly contracts as Upwork pays out of its own pocket if something goes wrong with the client.

If you use the automatic hourly tracker correctly, Upwork will pay for those hours, but there are limitations and rules the freelancer must follow. Milestones are helpful on jobs for fixed price to limit the amount of money for a chargeback, but you won't receive your money.

 

The ads for payment protection do seem to at least hint that everything is safe, but that has a lot of limitations. Upwork does nothing for chargebacks; no business will go up against the banks. Usually, Upwork is only missing their fee and have not lost money, they just didn't make any money. It's the freelancer who suffers. Therfore, protect yourself because no one else will. In most cases, the chargeback is on a job with many red flags.

finally an honest response that doesnt seem to be so biased on upwork's side. everybody else is just defending the platform isntead of pointing out what needs improvments. 

Payment protection only applies in very specific circumstances, and is by no means a protection against scams. 

but how is banning a con artist going to help with anything?

He can never do it again to anybody else on upwork, which is a good thing. Upwork does not have the time or money to sue clients that don't pay, or even the legal grounds since they are just the middleman and not the contractual party, so they need to have another form of remedy for that, which is banning the client.

im sure they can come back with a hundred more accounts.

Except that he can't go after the client.

The ONLY exception to this is if he receives the funds through Upwork.  Thats it.  And, according to his post, we see how well that played out.

Upwork will slap you with sanctions if they suspect you are attempting to collect outside of their website.  Even mailing the client a collections invoice can get your account suspended or banned.

renata101
Community Member

Hi SokSambath, 

I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you. Unfortunately, freelancers have been reporting a lot of chargeback scams in the last six months or so. 

I think that everyone who works on Upwork should read this article because scams are becoming more popular.


https://community.upwork.com/t5/Community-Blog/Top-Red-Flags-for-Scams-From-Community-Member-Wes-C/b...




Was there anything that seemed odd about the contract otherwise? It looks like the client asked you to do a 5-minute voice over. I don't know how much time it takes to produce 5 minutes of clear audio, but $350 seems like a largish budget for what might be an hour or two of work (but maybe not outrageous because it looks like it was a very last-minute request).

In retrospect, was there anything that seemed unusual about the script? 

i knew something was off with this client, he wanted me to do another contract with another post of his other account, and that was when I knew that it seemed like a pattern of a scammer of some sort. Then I declined his offer and he blocked me and weeks later, this is what I get. I just never knew that upwork could let someone do that to freelancers even after the payment is released and the contract has already ended, this is just so funny somehow!

I'm glad you didn't do a second job.

It's probably hard to learn this when you've been working on the platform for a while, but Upwork doesn't screen or vet clients. The view is that they provide a marketplace for clients and freelancers to interact, so I think sometimes people have a false sense of security about certain things. As freelancers, we really have to keep our wits about us.

Upwork generally wants to make it as easy as possible for clients to set up an account because clients are how we all make money. Some people think that if Upwork had any client onboarding process at all, clients might be put off signing up to post jobs because this would make it too much work, or make it too time consuming, or whatever. I'm not sure I agree with this view, but most of the time, using Upwork works well for me.  Fortunately, I check the forum frequently enough to learn from the experiences of other freelancers.

Also, it's not really Upwork doing this. It seems like the "client" in this case could have paid the contract amount on a stolen credit card (that's the usual story with chargebacks, but there are some variations). The reason it doesn't show up right away is that credit card bills are sent out once a month. So the real card owner doesn't see the Upwork charge until they get the bill. And then they call their card company to initiate a chargeback because they don't recognize the company name. It's not unusual to see freelancers who have been scammed posting about chargebacks happening 30 days after the contract. With some payment methods, chargebacks can happen as much as 180 days after the contract was paid out.

So this is something to really think about if someone offers you a job that sounds "too good to be true."

Because you're dealing with a scammer, I don't know if there's something Upwork can do so you're not charged the Upwork fees. I know this comes up frequently enough that there should be some kind of procedure in place to handle it.


Renata S wrote:


Upwork generally wants to make it as easy as possible for clients to set up an account because clients are how we all make money. 



Thats the problem.

I realy thinks that all clients must have their IDs verified before posting jobs. Clients canยดt set up an account easily.

Upwork must get note of the following:

1 - We freelancers wants legit job posts.
2 - We canยดt make money with fake post jobs.

So it is completely useless letting anyone set up a client account and posting jobs, we have no guarantee that job posts will be legit. But, if Upwork makes clients have ID verified, or makes a client account more harder to be seted up, we will be much more sure that most of the job posts will be legit.

I prefer to see just 1 new job in my feed, but a legit job, than see 200 new job posts but all fakes.

If the number of fake jobs conitues to grow up, freelancers and legit clients will leave.

What makes this platform going on is legit jobs post, not a high number of jobs post. It is completely useless having 2000 of fake jobs.

Hi Andre,

I get it. I'm with you. I think most of my clients wouldn't mind a bit if someone explained that verifying their identity was helpful in creating a safe, positive environment. But some imaginary guys in corporate who want to post now, now, now always seem to take center stage.  And, oh my god! Register a payment method? Most people do that with Netfix, so what gives?

in this case, i think upwork itself is too greedy to have clients on their platform so much so that they dont care if they clients are fradulant or not because they dont lose anything anyways, as freelancers are the one who have to payback and return all the money. Renata, please try to see things from both sides of the issue instead of picking a side and then build your opinions around them. 

 

the-right-writer
Community Member

It's no joke. What happened is called a chargeback. Scammers set up jobs using stolen credit cards. By the time the bank that issued the card realizes someone stole the number, they freeze all assets until the matter is resolved, but the damage is done. It is supposed to be resolved within 90 days.

 

There are actually two kinds of chargebacks but the effects are the same. The card is usually stolen, but in some cases, it is a client who wants the work for free. Upwork is supposed to suspend the client for doing a chargeback, but they return and use another fake name.

 

It would seem this job had red flags including a lot of money for a brief voiceover. It doesn't seem to be your usual rate. This is a red flag, warning you to be cautious. Most clients underbid for jobs, not over. When you think you can make a lot of money for not much effort, it is a scam.

 

Unfortunately, you will never see the money. You can provide evidence to the bank and Upwork will pass along documents but there is no help. Until the banks and businesses are held financially accountable, nothing will change. As Renata said, read the red flag article from Wes. If you don't protect yourself, you will be scammed repeatedly. Don't let money cloud your judgment.

eeb179a1
Community Member

thanks for your responses, everyone. nothing i can do, my fund has already been stripped out whether i want or agree to it or not. i dont think upwork or the bank will do anything to help, i just dont feel safe working on the platform anymore knowing that even if the job is completed and everything is settled, i still risk being scammed and got the money all taken away like it's nothing. 

If this is a concern, then only use hourly contracts with Payment Protection.

elisa_b
Community Member

Try to select clients with a proven history here on Upwork, good reviews and a decent amount of money spent so far, and you will be on the safer side.

Hi SokSambath,

It's a bad experience, but I've been working on the platform for a long time, and I've never had an issue with a chargeback. It might be the type of clients I work with, but sometimes it's just taking a bit of time to check in with myself if anything seems out of the ordinary with a potential offer.

It's good to learn what to say no to. I said no to someone a few months ago because the person kept telling me I was the only one who could do a particular kind of job (I didn't think this was true), and offered me significantly more than my normal rate to do their job.  Something felt off to me, so I didn't accept the offer, even though it paid really well.

I've been to Cambodia and experienced what it's like shopping in the marketplaces there. As a non-Cambodian, I always understood that I would probably be charged a lot more for stuff than the average Cambodian, and bargaining was challenging for me initially.

I think this is more true of Thailand and Vietnam, but if someone offered me a lot of stuff for a really cheap price, it automatically made me wonder about the offer and what new and unusual charges the vendor would come up with that I needed to pay to walk away with something that was actually useful.

For me, bargaining on Upwork is normally nothing compared to bargaining in Asian markets, but you still have to stay aware of who the trusted buyers and sellers are. If you build good relationships, the trades work out for everyone. If you see something new from a new buyer or seller that seems like an outrageous bargain or an outrageous windfall, you can take it as a sign to check it out as much as you can or maybe just walk away. So maybe it would be helpful to think of Upwork as a marketplace in the same sense a real marketplace (though it's supposed to be functioning on a more professional level, the rules of engagement seem similar).

And like anything else, it can help to ask other people what reasonable deals look like.

It's certainly your decision, but if you spend time looking at the job and the situation, you can avoid the scams.

renata101
Community Member

Actually, it sounds like the scammers screwed up in your case. Normally, they offer to pay you $50. Then they drop $350 into your account "by accident" and ask you to refund the difference. If the freelancers do that and the real card owner does a chargeback, freelancers are sometimes stuck having to pay back the full amout.

If it's any consolation, it seems like you were working with a dumber kind of scammer.

kkears
Community Member

@SokSambath P - I just want to chime in here based on some of these comments. First, we all know there are a lot of "did I get scammed?" posts on this forum. The answer is almost always 'yes,' of course. But I'm noticing a more frequent trend of victim blaming as these posts continue. 

 

Some commenters are saying the fact that the client paid you $350 was a red flag. Sure, it's logical to ask, "Is this too good to be true?" But it's important to mention that our profile hourly rates don't necessarily dictate what our fixed-price project rates are. For me, I create fixed-priced rates based on the VALUE I'm providing, not how much time something takes me or how long the deliverable is. 

 

People can look at a task and tell me, "That should only take you 2-3 hours," but that doesn't mean I'm charging 2-3 hours of work. In short, the length of the voiceover you provided to the client is irrelevant. Your pricing is likely based on not just the project's scope, but the desired outcome from your client.

 

Scams aside, I just wanted to bring this up to you @SokSambath P so that you aren't feeling like the work you provided isn't worth what you charged. 

 

renata101
Community Member


Katie K wrote:

@SokSambath P - I just want to chime in here based on some of these comments. First, we all know there are a lot of "did I get scammed?" posts on this forum. The answer is almost always 'yes,' of course. But I'm noticing a more frequent trend of victim blaming as these posts continue. 

 

Some commenters are saying the fact that the client paid you $350 was a red flag. Sure, it's logical to ask, "Is this too good to be true?" But it's important to mention that our profile hourly rates don't necessarily dictate what our fixed-price project rates are. For me, I create fixed-priced rates based on the VALUE I'm providing, not how much time something takes me or how long the deliverable is. 

 

People can look at a task and tell me, "That should only take you 2-3 hours," but that doesn't mean I'm charging 2-3 hours of work. In short, the length of the voiceover you provided to the client is irrelevant. Your pricing is likely based on not just the project's scope, but the desired outcome from your client.

 

Scams aside, I just wanted to bring this up to you @SokSambath P so that you aren't feeling like the work you provided isn't worth what you charged. 

 




Hi Kate,

As far as I'm aware, I'm the only one who asked about the $350 rate. My reason for doing so was not to question OP's rates or to make him feel bad if that was a rate he suggested. I wanted to know if there something that seemed out about the job.

I had already looked up the job posting, and that's the budget the client was offering for the job. This seemed high for the amount of work I reasoned it might take (based on audio work I've done in the past and a general knowledge of the rates clients seem to offer on this platform for similar work, which are often low).  Also, $350 seems to be a common going price for chargeback scams lately.

Can you point out something specific I said that might suggest my intent struck you as blaming the victim? That was never my intent. I was trying to take some care with my wording because I don't appreciate the trend you've mentioned either.

 

Because there are a lot of scams circulating on the platform at the moment, I think it's good for people to understand that they sometimes need to question what clients are offering them and whether anything seems odd about it. Upwork doesn't vet clients (and never has), so freelancers need to become savvy at screening them.

kkears
Community Member

Hey Renata - My intention here isn't to call you or anyone out for victim blaming and I certainly don't think you had malicious intent or were trying to make anyone feel bad. Victim blaming is a strong phrase, but it's really the only phrase that describes the trend I see on this platform. There is another post in this thread that mentions the rate charged as questionable...I don't think any of these comments are with ill-intent.

 

I just want the original poster to know that I don't think the rate was any sort of red flag in this case (and that they don't need to further question what project rates they agree to). 

 

I brought up the trend of victim blaming because I'm seeing an increase in the comments implying (even subtly) that the "the freelancer must have missed something."  (With that said, there are always some big obvious red flags that freelancers don't see and policies they violate.)

 

In this freelancer's case, his point is that he completed the work and the contract had ended...a good reason why he shouldn't be resonsible for paying back $350. As you know, very compotent freelancers are fed up that they aren't protected. 

renata101
Community Member


Katie K wrote:

Hey Renata - My intention here isn't to call you or anyone out for victim blaming and I certainly don't think you had malicious intent or were trying to make anyone feel bad. Victim blaming is a strong phrase, but it's really the only phrase that describes the trend I see on this platform. There is another post in this thread that mentions the rate charged as questionable...I don't think any of these comments are with ill-intent.

 


Hi Katie,

I think I would disagree about the rate being a red flag. Many of the current scams seem to be targeting freelancers in SE Asia, and it seems like a rate of that kind would be really attractive relative to the current cost of living in that region and the rates people living in those countries are charging.  The rate, $350, represents about 15 hours of time at the OP's posted rate, so I imagine that may have made it an attractive one. And yet, it would still be under the radar in terms of looking unrealistic to Western viewers, so it would have been a tough one to flag on the system as being an obvious scam. Scammers have really been upping their game on this platform.

To my mind, Upwork has been slow in addressing the scams isssue, which has been out of control since about January. There have always been scams on the board, but the increase since then is astounding. 

Also, people who have never freelanced in their lives and don't have an identifable skillset are signing up in droves. Many of them don't speak English at a level adequate to hold down an everyday conversation let alone read Upwork's legal and help pages (none of which are not translated into other languages as far as I'm aware) to find out how the site works.

These new freelancers are really easy targets for scammers.  They show up in the forum on a daily basis saying they've been scammed by clients who demand payment for registration and ID cards. They usually show up in the forum after agreeing to start working for these bogus clients without contracts.

So it's kind of like the perfect storm. And it's been raging for months.

If some of the people who post on the forum seem shrill, I think the constant presence of this issue might be making them that way. I'm not saying that's right or helpful, but I think it's a natural consequence when people are burning out as the result of a steady diet of watching preventable accidents happen. 

If you want an example of inappropriate corporate responses, let me know and I can message you one.

kkears
Community Member

I'm definitely aware of newer freelancers being targeted. I think both sides of the coin (freelancers watching preventable accidents happen and those getting scammed) have the right to be shrill. Like you said, the increase is astounding, and I think Upwork needs to reflect that their "prevention" methods are clearly not working. 

 

It is unfortunate that the poster (an experienced, top-rated freelancer) is not safe from scams either. 

Sincerely, what would you have Upwork do? How do you make someone follow the rules and not be so greedy they don't care what they have to do?

I disagree as well. I use only fixed-price jobs and I have never been scammed. The amount being paid is a red flag because it is more than anyone would ever pay for the supposed job. You have to ask, why would someone pay so much more? Clients do not overpay by that much unless the deal is shady. That's just a fact.

 

The only way to be protected is by using the automatic tracker correctly or using milestones to limit the amount of money up for a chargeback.

 

This freelancer took a job at many times his rate. What happens in the physical world when someone is promising you big bucks for almost nothing? His usual fee is directly related and if Upwork were to pay on automatic hours, they won't pay him an inflated rate, they will pay him according to his profile, which is $22.00 per hour.

 

I'm not subtle. If you don't follow the rules and you decide you are going to clean up off of one job you know well and good is not worth even a tenth of the fee - you are taking a huge gamble. Once you do that, I have no sympathy. There are freelancers who still get scammed after doing everything right, but they are few and far between. If freelancers follow the rules, and do not think they are going to suddenly make tons of money illigitmately, I do feel terrible for the few.

 

It's not victim blaming. It is insisting that freelancers act like adults and take responsibility for their actions. If they don't want to follow the rules, and accept jobs they know there is a problem with then they are on their own.

Hi, Jeanne, I couldnt help but notice how you have no knowledge about voice over industry and devalue my work based on the amount of the contract. You should read Katie's post again but very carefully. "This freelancer took a job at many times his rate.", this sentence shows that you have zero knowledge about the voice over, whatsoever, if you dont have anything kind to say or any proper solutions to give, I am just going to invite you to not let out a peep.  

hi, retana, i just want to clarify that ive done a lot less for a lot more budgets on fiverr. thank you!

I'm glad to hear that you're making good money. It sounds like you're good at what you do and you have a specialized niche. That's a good situation to be in. It also sounds like the offer wasn't as unrealistic as it seemed to me. Usually, with scam jobs, they offer to pay you a lot of money for something that doesn't take very long. 


SokSambath P wrote:

hi, retana, i just want to clarify that ive done a lot less for a lot more budgets on fiverr. thank you!


What you've done on Fiverr isn't really relevant to what clients see on your profile here. 

eeb179a1
Community Member

hello, Katie, thank you for pointing this out, it seems that most of the comments try to blame me that i didnt see red flags or/and saw them but overlooked anyway. somehow i feels like i have to take all the blames while the platform does nothing to improve the payment method security. i dont think most freelancers know about the chargeback system or chargeback scams, i only knew about this in my life when it happened so of course I got scammed because I thought upwork was safe and the payment was secure after the fund in escrow was released. And yes this client said that the first part of the milestone was done but the second phase was canceled and asked me to pay them back a part of it through payoneer, imagine if I disagreed and the client got annoyed, what do you think they'll do? yes, they have the metaphorical knife that upwork gives them automatically to slay me via their feedback and rating; upwork wouldnt care about that either, if they client gives me one star and horrible comments, then they will still stand on the client's side, and I'm a top rated freelancer with over 60 5* rating straights, of course I wouldnt risk upsetting the client in this case. It seems like no matter what I do, I have to follow their rules blindly once the contract is officially created and accepted on the platform. And people on the plaform keep implying that I dont check the forums often enough, or that I didnt see the red flags, while not blaming upwork for raising awareness of this issue or improve anything with their system. And if you check the email that their team sent me, it's just so ridiculous how oppressing they are and how they suggest me to talk with the clients(the scammers) why they asked their banks to chargeback. i dont undestand why people get so horrible and lack so much empathy and unbiased opnions. 

You need to worry more about Upwork than your scammer client. You violated so many rules, including sending money outside of Upwork, that you can be banned permanently. Public feedback is meaningless. Your JSS is based on private feedback and other metrics - nothing to do at all with anything you see publicly.

 

You have to take responsibility for yourself on any platform. People expect you to follow the rules and not take jobs many times your rate because you think you are going to make a lot of money for nothing. If you won't take responsibility for your actions, then perhaps freelancing is not for you.

 

As I said earlier, Upwork will do nothing, nor will any business in a chargeback, nor will the banks. None of them are suffering. We can chat about this all day, but unless financial pressure is brought to bear on the businesses and banks, nothing about chargebacks will change.

 

You have to protect yourself. And yes, that means taking a hard look at each and every client. If someone offers you so much money for little work, why do you think they would do that?

They do it to get people to take the fake job. The scammers have no shortage of takers.

"If you won't take responsibility for your actions, then perhaps freelancing is not for you." haha you're funny Jeanne. Thanks for telling me what I should do with my life. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I think a lot of people don't realize that scammers can be quite sophisticated, and they can be really good at figuring out how to manipulate people at an emotional level or put them into situations that they feel that they can't easily back out of. So you don't have to be particularly dumb to get caught up with one.

Someone tried to scam me into paying a lot of money for fake gems in Thailand many years ago. I was taken on a full one-hour tour to a series of Thai temples where I would "just happen" to meet people who kept mentioning the Thai government jewellery sale that "just happened" to be ending that day (so the story a lot of different people were telling me made it sound like there was this big opportunity that I was about to miss out on). I later figured out that they must have considered me a great target because I had just been teaching English in Japan. English teachers usually had some savings built up when they finished their contracts.

My only clue was that it seemed like I was meeting way too many people by coincidence who just happened to be talking about this governemtn jewellery sale. Later I figured that they must have been calling each other on cell phones to relay the conversations I had with each of them so they could exchange information for the next story the next person I "just happened" to meet along the way had for me.

Later, I was talking about my experience with a few other people I met there. One guy was from Germany, and he said the scammer he met had talked to him knowledgeably about German politics for an hour before getting into the scam story. I would never expect a con artist to have that kind of dedication, but I guess if there's a big payoff at the end, there woud be a lot of incentive to learn about German politics.

So some things I learned about scams are
1) there's usually some time pressure involved
2) they usually give you some critical reason why you can't do something sensible
3) they will get mad at you for any sign that you're not behaving the way they want you to behave

SokSambath, something that you may not have realized is that as a top-rated freelancer, you get a feedback removal perk. So once in every ten contracts or so, you can have bad feedback removed from your profile. Knowing that may have taken the pressure off getting bad feedback.

thanks, renata, i think i am going to end the conversation now, thank you for all your comments even though some are not pariticularly helpful or problems-addressing, i appreciate your time responding to my concerns. 
regards,
sam

Hey SokSambath,

You mentioned being concerned about your feedback when you were dealing with the scammer.

Since you are top-rated, if you are in a situation where you are worried about your feedback this might help in the future.

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