Warning:Client Scam, though Upwork "Verified" their payment status- they will not protect me



I responded to a job posting which indicated that Upwork had verified their payment source, so when I was awarded the job and secured the contract terms I felt that I was protected. The client chose an hourly system and had me bill them two hours per file I returned. I delivered many hours of work and then submitted the files.


After the two week period my payment should have cleared and been deposited into my account, however,  I was notified that the funds were refunded back to the client due to the clients insufficient payment method.

Because I tracked the hours manually, they claim I am not protected at all. Now it appears the client has disappeared, though I did discover they had multiple jobs open and had hired several contractors, which I am guessing did not get paid either. 


Upwork washed their hands of the situation, and did not eve try to help push the client to pay or get in contact with me. This was clearly a scam, though I felt I was taking all precautions by working through Upwork, which is meant to provide protections to freelancers like me.


I am a Professional voice artist, have worked in the industry for over 15 years and many of those here. I am horrified that Upwork has increased their profit share while reducing their protections for their freelancers in the process.


Upwork, in this case, misrepresented the clients payment status verification to the freelancers, putting us into a dangerous and fraudulent situation when the client suddenly disappeared with our work.


I fully believe Upwork should take ownership of this error on their end and pay our invoices. This is unacceptable. I want to warn all freelancers here that we are not truly protected in this platform.


yeah, they can have a verified payment and the charge bounces. The best thing to do is use the tracker. Another option is to check your contracts every morning to see if any of them have flipped to "not verified." that tells you the payment failed, and then you can follow up with the client.


It's best to use the tracker though to avoid the headache.

Hello, Yes I certainly checked the status daily. Using tracker was impossible for this project- my internet was bouncing and the tracker app is glitchy at best. I felt protected by Upwork in any case, but I was proven mistaken.


Ingrid G wrote:

Hello, Yes I certainly checked the status daily. Using tracker was impossible for this project- my internet was bouncing and the tracker app is glitchy at best. I felt protected by Upwork in any case, but I was proven mistaken.


You're only protected using tracker. If you decide to use tracker, make sure that you read the payment protection rules. This client still might pay you but all you can do is ping them and hope they pay you. 

what is tracker?

re: "what is tracker?"


Tracker is how you get paid.


Hi Ingrid, 

I'm sorry to know that you weren't paid for this contract. I would like to confirm the information that was shared with you on your support ticket. Please know that manual time doesn't qualify for payment protected, as noted in this help article. To avail of Hourly Protection, you must: 

  • Have an Hourly contract
  • Work with a client with a verified billing method
  • Use an Upwork account in good standing
  • Log your hours with the Upwork Desktop App
  • Be visibly working on contract-related activity in your Work Diary
  • Annotate your Work Diary with memos or activities labels that describe the activity performed
  • Maintain adequate and fair activity levels
  • Stay within the contract's weekly limit

If you would like to learn more about Upwork's Payment Protection, you may want to visit this help article.

~ Avery

I’m sorry, but as the company has made it clear they only protect their freelancers if they use the hourly protection system, which I agree to by using the platform. However, a is not considered valid unless all parties are in agreement to the terms. If the expressed terms are not accurate, then any agreement is based on a false premise and the contract is invalid. Knowingly making false statements -- whether in writing, verbally, through a simple gesture, or even silence -- constitutes false misrepresentation if it has a material effect on the deal.

As such, They have voided the contract with me, because they misrepresented the clients payment verification. Thus, I feel I am entitled to a payment as I completed all terms as established by the platform under the contract I entered into with this client based on the premise is that their payment was verified by Upwork.

Hi Ingrid, 

I understand how this experience can be very frustrating for you. I would like to note that while a client's billing method may be verified at the onset of a project, it is possible that their billing method becomes unverified for a variety of reasons - their billing method is expired, they have insufficient balance in their card, etc. Please know that we do not have control over situations like these. 

In Section 6.1 For Freelancers of the Hourly, Bonus, and Expense Payment Agreement with Escrow Instructions of the User Agreement, Hourly Payment Protection will be offered to a Freelancer only if all of the listed criteria are met. 

As noted in the same section, Hourly Protection does not apply for manual time. As such, it's always best to use the Upwork Desktop App to track time on hourly contracts, making sure that you annotate your memos properly to meet the requirements of Hourly Protection. 

If you do not wish to use the Upwork Desktop App, or you feel that tracking time isn't applicable for the type of work you do, you may want to consider going for fixed-price contracts moving forward.

~ Avery

The section clearly only protects freelancers if they use your internal time clocking mechanism, I understand that.

However, as a very long time and loyal freelancer on this platform, I expected more from Upwork in terms of trying to protect me against fraudulent clients.

Section 6.1 as a membership benefit to foster fairness, reward loyalty, and encourage the Freelancer to continue to use the Site Services for their business needs

At this point I’m so frustrated that I haven’t even been considered in this exchange that I’m considering removing myself from this platform and taking my services elsewhere. This is a very terrible time to be scammed out of a large amount of money for a person who works in the giga Cana me as I do. The fact that Upwork is not taking this into consideration at all and keep sending me disclaimers and reasons why they have no liability in this case only frustrates me further. Upwork does have a liability to verify that their clients are not fraudulent, and they did not do this to the fullest extent in my opinion.
They have my proprietary work, and I have not been paid.

Sorry to hear about your experience, Ingrid. It's a shame that there are scam clients on this platform.


I have encountered another situation where the guaranteed hourly payment may not be guaranteed. I have worked on an hourly contract with a client for the last 10 months, and there was a problem with the client's payment method last week. Although the payment problem was resolved today, I received a notification from Upwork that they reviewed my Work Diary and some or all of the hours billed did not meet the Upwork Hourly Protection criteria due to insufficient or no memos recorded. After 10 months, when Upwork has to pay out, they take a look and find something wrong. They noted that if there were other issues with my Work Diary, they would send separate notifications for those issues. They also stated that in the future, any hours not logged in accordance with the memo logging or activities labels policy would be reversed.


The Upwork Hourly Protection seems to have its share of strings attached.

Absolutely! There are pages and pages of disclaimers with many loopholes in place, so I just would recommend any freelancer using the protection of hourly logging to carefully read all of the stipulations.
It is very unfortunate that scams can still happen on this platform, as freelancers I feel we should be protected in the situations, and it’s just extremely frustrating that this has happened to me and I’m certain many others.

Regardless of the fact that it was quite a large amount of money which I was certainly counting on, it’s really the principle of doing the work abiding by carefully outlined contractual terms, and then delivering files only to essentially have my work stolen.

For this reason, I will only use fixed rate jobs for all future contracts, unless the system is changed.

Ingrid, I've been in your shoes twice last year around I think Sep or Oct. Took on 2 clients, they pretty much did the same. Hourly, pretended to be very enthusiastic, then once the contract began, everything I delivered was bad, not matching the hours, "it's so easy I could've done it myself". All sorts of excuse to not pay essentially, and of course I lost a lot of time and earned money, and stress, felt betrayed, lost confidence in Upwork. I just chalk it up to my failure in screening them. Don't take this the wrong way, but I never believed any platform's 100% guarantee for anything, so just keep that in mind going forward.

I've had situations where I had to enter manual time. I try to avoid as much as I can, but every time I log manual hours I prepare myself, mentally, to lose that money if it comes through I am thankful, if not I acknowledge I made a mistake and move on! 


I am sorry it happened to you, you should only agree to manual hours with "established" clients, who have a long history. And if this client had other jobs open and has a hiring history. It is possible the charge failed and soon he will fund the card and pay you as a bonus. 


I've had similar a similar situation with the client, who had spent over $400K on the platform, but every weak his account would be suspended as he had many freelancers working and all of them billing 10s of thousands so his cards failed each time and he would request to log manual hours and in a day or two the account would be active again! But there was a time he could not get the card funded for a week, and my past week was logged on the tracker so Upwork paid me in full about $1300. 


If the client had past hiring history, I am sure they will pay once they resolve the card issue! 





Ashraf K wrote:

If the client had past hiring history, I am sure they will pay once they resolve the card issue! 

You are responding to a post from March 2020, the OP hasn't worked here since. If the client hasn't paid yet, they won't now...

Petra R wrote:

Ashraf K wrote:

If the client had past hiring history, I am sure they will pay once they resolve the card issue! 

You are responding to a post from March 2020, the OP hasn't worked here since. If the client hasn't paid yet, they won't now...

My Bad! I did not notice the date Petra! 


Please someone help me, there had a scam with me. I serviced my client for one day and ended the contract with the good note from both side. 
but after 2 days client profile disappeard and my last job earnings also. 
I hve no idea where my earning went.
I feel that client looted me. someone please help me. I need my money.

Hi Ankshu and Alfreda,


I can see that you both have an open ticket already about this issue. Please allow time for our team to review and get back to you directly on your open ticket. In the meantime, I encourage you to check this help article; also, please check out Tips to avoid questionable jobs. You might also want to check out the information here to learn more about staying safe on Upwork. 

~ Joanne

I had this happen and I asked 3 diff Upwork employees at the time if the client was legit before starting work they all claimed yes no no SCAM