» Forums » Freelancers » Re: VIRTUAL ASSISTANT SCAM
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I am making this post to report an attempted scam and to warn freelancers who are new to up work to be very careful with the type of jobs they apply to and accept. I created an upwork profile a week ago and was very excited to find my first gig. I applied for several positions as a virtual assistant (about 5) and all got back to me saying they wanted to set up an interview via Skype or Telegram. Because I was new to upwork, I didn't see anything wrong with this. I just knew the contract and payment had to be done through Upwork but I didn't know communication had to be done through upwork as well. Anyways, when the interview was set up, I noticed it was for big companies Barnes and Nobles, Marshall Retail Group and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this was kind of suspicious to me so I looked up my "interviewers" on LinkedIn with regards to each company and nothing came up. After the chat interviews, I was offered the job on the spot and again it was weird to me that such big companies would do that. I was then asked how I wanted to be paid, direct deposit or check. I then told them I was not going to accept payment or any contract outside of upwork and they kept insisting it will all be refelected on my upwork profile. They then said I will be sent a check to purchase equipment and this is when I was like ABSOLUTELY NOT. I feel very dumb for believing this and almost falling for this and I want all freelancers to be careful



Hello Lotechi,


Thank you for your message. I'm sorry to hear about your experience with a Client. Could you please click on my picture next to this post and send me a private message with more information on the reported job so I could forward this to the appropriate team to review and take action?


Thank you

Pradeep H.


Were you able to provide any further information on this? I believe that I am also being targetted with this same scam. This company does not seem to want to communicate at all via UpWork, but they insist that they will make payments through UpWork. 

Happened to me yesterday! 



(they are looking for virtual assistant from UK/US )




Thank you.


Hi Najeeb,


I'm sorry to hear about your experience. You did the right thing not getting in touch with these clients as communicating outside Upwork prior to a contract starting is against ToS and could put your account at risk.


We highly suggest reviewing our ToS, reading these tips on how to avoid questionable jobs, and this post from our Community member, Wes, about top red flags for scams for you to keep yourself safe in the marketplace. Should you also encounter any suspicious user activity again in the future, please send us a flag so the dedicated team can review it and take action as soon as possible.

~ AJ
Community Member

I am new to UpWork also. This is the first company to respond to a proposal. They also keep insisting that everything will be done through UpWork, however, they want to send me a PDF of a check to deposit into my account. The interviewer called it a "procurement check." I had never heard of being able to make a mobile deposit with a PDF printout of a check. My law enforcement background told me something was fishy with that. He then asked for a copy of my driver's license. Many of the responses from the interviewer seemed as thought they were cut and paste from other interviews. I'm all for starting a position with the terms that he stated in the interview, but it definitely has me leery. He keeps stating that he will be removing the listing from UpWork temporarily and then add it back so that it can be added as a client on my profile. 

Jennifer: You already know that this is a scam.


And you already know that accepting a check is a serious TOS violation which can result in freelancers getting terminated from the platform.


So I am glad you didn't go along with this scammer's schemes. Had you continued, you would have lost about $3000 from your checking account.


In the future, don't waste any more time communicating with these scammers. Just use the "Flag as inappropriate" link button on the job posting page to report them, and move on.

Thank you. I only just created my profile today, and out of the two proposals submitted thus far, this one requested an interview. Once they mentioned the "procurement check" I started looking for anything I could on this company. They apparently have a habit of making a job posting and deleting it as soon as they speak to someone. The listing is no longer there for me to "Flag as Inappropriate." Thank you for responding. 

This is becoming a huge problem in the Admin catagory.  I'm seeing 4-5 out of 20 jobs are these kind of scams each time I browse the jobs.

At one time I would mark suspicious jobs as favorites and save them, then check back a few days later, I'd see they never hired anyone and lots of times the jobs had been removed, this is how I learned to recognize them.


There is nothing I can flag them for but I've been invited now twice to these scam jobs by talent specialists adding legitimacy to the scams.

Once you know what to look for they can be spotted but again, nothing I can pick out to flag them for.  I keep seeing the same ones over and over.

Red flags I have noticed:
*Payment unverified (not always a bad thing)
*Job described in very general terms, no specifics of what they actual want.
*Job title starts with caps "Data Processing Agent" in the description.

*Grammar errors or odd way of speaking

*Offering Check or Direct Deposit
*Talking about paper records
*Literal description of what a person in this job would do rather than what the job is about.
*Jobs very similar to other jobs posted at the same time, maybe a sentance is slightly changed.
*If you check the client info, it says the client is in the US yet where it says what time it is in the clients time zone, it doesn't match up to any US time zones.

Always keep all communication on Upwork until you have a contract in place.

It wasn't your "law enforcement background", it was common sense. It completely sucks, you get excited about a new opportunity and want it to be true, but just to find out it was some dude in another country trying to take your money or launder theirs. Just keep chugging and don't let it get you down, hopefully, it being 2 years later you've found the opportunity for you! 

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