289bb8cf
Member

Fake ** Freelancers

Dearest Upwork -

 

I am a premium employer and between my two accounts, I easily spend 400k a year.   I have found that my support as a premium employer has become non-existent.  I have always had great account managers but now they all seem to have disappeared and I have no direct point of contact at Upwork.  I cannot imagine any other business having a client who spends as much as I do and not providing them direct access to an account manager.  But that's not what I am writing about.  

 

My bigger concern is the rampant and OUT OF CONTROL issue of phony freelancer accounts.  I recently tried to hire for a job and out of 5 interviews, all 5 were not in the country they claimed to be from.  Some claimed to be in East Europe and others claimed to be in Canada or the United States.  I voice verified with them and they were all Chinese.   I have been reporting this issue for years, yet Upwork seems to not want to do anything about it.  It seems like it would be pretty simple to weed out these fakes, given that I found 5 of them on ONE job post.  I think that Upwork is turning a blind eye to this problem because they are still getting paid on work these phony developers do.  This is a total disservice to people like myself who depend on Upwork.  By ignoring the issue you are allowing employers to get scammed, the very people you depend on for your business.  

 

At any rate, here are a few of the fake Chinese Profiles for my most recent job posting.  Notice that ALL these profiles say rising talent or top rated:

 

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

 

 

63 REPLIES 63
g_vasilevski
Member

Hi Ethan,

 

I apologize for the bad experience you had with the freelancers you interviewed and reported. To confirm that we have a procedure to check this type of freelancers and take proper actions towards but reporting them also helps us in investigating them faster and taking proper actions. One of our team members will reach out to you directly so that we can provide you the support needed and also to send us more details about this freelancers via ticket, so we can check if proper action was taken based on your earlier reports. Our team will also investigate why you weren`t able to contact our customer support and assist you further with this as well. If you have any additional questions feel free to post them here, thank you!

~ Goran
Upwork

I don't buy it.  As a company you have known about this issue for many years and I cannot believe that you are taking any steps to control the problem because it has become 10x worse.  

This is frankly a distressing report.

 

And it is unfortunate. I have worked with Chinese freelancers - individuals who live in China and say they live in China. I have great respect for the quality of their work and their professionalism.

 

I worry that a relatively small number of dishonest freelancers masquerading as someone they're not could permanently damage the reputation of a large group of people.

 

Claiming to be from somewhere else is not only dishonest and against TOS... it is also totally unnecessary. And potentially very harmful.

how can i report this account? I fell into this

**edited for Community Guidelines**

Hi Luis, 

Could you please share more information about the freelancer you noted on your post so that I can assist you further?


~ Avery
Upwork

Hi, a freelancer of china contact me because his account was erased for problems with You country and he told me if i could create one and use My PC to take Jobs because he needed work.
But then i see this and i don't want to risk myself ir others.

Yes Luis I started this thread a long time ago, unfortunatley I dont think upwork has gotten rid of the fake freelancer problem, where they report to come from Europe or even russia, but end up being chinese freelancers....once again.

Hi Ethan,

 

I'm a freelancer but I get your frustration, I really do. This affects everyone.

 

My very first long-term contract was for a native English editor and started with the client apologetically requesting a Skype call to verify that I met that description because the previous two she had hired did not.

 

There's a lot that Upwork could do to improve this situation. Believe me, I'm no apologist for the site; I've certainly been vocal about many things here in the past. But at the same time, I do think they are working on it. I see more and more comments (mostly off this forum) from people about video verification requirements, and often from people who were flat out denied entry to the site. This latter policy is fairly recent -- a couple of years ago, they took all comers.

 

I always believe in looking at the incentives. Here, Upwork has no incentive to let scammers flourish and every incentive to ensure clients like you are happy. For that reason alone, I don't think this is being ignored.

 

I just think this is one of those cat-and-mouse things, like hackers and antimalware software providers, where there never will be victory by either side, just constant adjustment and adaptation. It's annoying but just part of the "joy of the Internet."

 

The scammers play games by using shill accounts to pump up their stats, but there are usually still tell-tale signs that they aren't what they say they are. Obviously, the longer the track record of the freelancer, and the further they are from the "budget range," the less chance of a problem.

 

If you ever have a concern or want an opinion on anything you're considering, feel free to drop me a PM. I'd be glad to help if I can.

Before condemning fake Chinese freelancers, let’s distinguish between Chinese freelancers with fake locations, photos and names, versus freelancers of Chinese ancestry who live outside China and provide real names and photos. Upwork seems to require video verification, which should detect obvious fakes, for all new freelancers after they complete one job, but perhaps video verification should also be required for a rising talent badge. Finally, there seems to be a market for selling Upwork profiles, but there’s no program to prevent this practice that I know of.
__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce


@Ethan E wrote:

I don't buy it.  As a company you have known about this issue for many years and I cannot believe that you are taking any steps to control the problem because it has become 10x worse.  


Ethan,

 

Those of us who maintain truthful stats about who, what, when, where and why in regards to our profiles feel nothing but distress (and quite a bit of embarrassment) when clients point out these failings. And oh yeah, quite a bit of anger too. As Janean has stated, we get scolded when we point out fraudulent profiles; I've mostly given up or curtailed that practice ... it's easier to bite my tongue.

 

Upwork claims to be doing something about this problem by doing ID verifications. They've stated that everyone on the site will be verified. What I've pointed out but have never gotten a response to is that as long as they keep letting five million (exaggerated to make a point) new people sign up every single day, they're never going to be able to verify everyone.

 

I don't get it. It feels like Upwork doesn't care about it's reputation as long as their bottom line isn't affected. Instead of working on this (serious) problem, they keep coming up with totally useless initiatives to "improve" our experience with the site.

 

Priorities are not in order ... at all.

 

 

Hi All,

 

A few posts have been removed from this thread as they were in violation of Community Guidelines. I would like to clarify once again that we do take reports of ToS violations seriously. What we can't allow is publicly discussing specific violations, specific violators and actions taken against their accounts. Not only because it's against Community Guidelines but also because we want to protect the integrity of our processes for identifying fraudulent accounts. 

 

Thank you.

~ Valeria
Upwork

I have to say I posted a Job and so far I have not seen one real account, European Accounts specifically even Mexico, after speaking with these people they clearly had very strong Asean Accents, the Account from Mexico did not understand his language. The chinese German, in each case, the picture was fake and so if these freelancers lie about their identity and Location how can I be sure about their skills or honesty in general.

 

Fake Accounts happen far to frequently on this site....

 

 

 

Hi Steve,

 

One of our team members will reach out to you via ticket where you can share more details with us about this. Our team will investigate the freelancers further and if any violations are found, proper actions will be taken. Thank you.

~ Goran
Upwork

re: "I have to say I posted a Job and so far I have not seen one real account"

 

I completely believe that this is what happened to you.

 

But I don't believe this is a universal experience. I have hired over 70 freelancers on Upwork. This has not been my experience at all.

 

Perhaps this is a particularly bad problem in a certain job niche?

 

Steve:

Could you tell us what type of freelancers you were hiring? What job niche or skill set you were looking for?

Mobile applcations and Ruby Developer at that time.

Preston,

 

Both points of view can be true.

 

we had a good 2 year run when we hired over 50 freelancers, all seemingly legit.

 

But recently, it seems everyone we interview (and one we hired) are ALL fakes from China.

 

 

We've spent over $100K on Upwork, most of that in the last year. We use Upwork a lot -- mostly to staff our technical team, but also for specialized skills and some busy-work help.

 

We recently hired a high level European developer with a great history of work at a high level. We interviewed him and he had very strong understanding of Node/AngularJS. He also had work history in large team projects with very hard core back end skills.

 

When we hired this developer, all kinds of problems occured. He would constantly make excuses, ask for delays, complain about headaches, or just complain that he was sick. We didn't make the freelancer use the time tool. On closer inspection, his accent had changed from a broken Slavic-to-English to more of an Asian-to-English. And on screen share, his windows profile turned out to be "Xientian" instead on Nikita.

 

We fired "Nikita" and have been interviewing new candidates. But now, we see problems everywhere. Candidates are suspiciously unable to use their video chat. Even though we actively employ 4 remote hourly freelancers as part of our team, we're at the point of moving off of Upwork for future resources. It seems as though fake profiles run rampant through Upwork.

 

Before we take that dramatic of a step, I was wondering if anyone has any experience that's reassuring. We heard from Upwork contact that we can "flag" suspicious profiles, but we don't really have the time to do cleanup for Upwork.

David, sorry to hear you've been taken advantage of. Did the freelancer in question have a blue check mark after his name when viewing his profile? That indicates they passed Upwork video verification. It's something to look for, although I suppose a cheat could have a European accomplice do the verification.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce

Yes, the candidate had the check mark that he was phone verified and video verified.

 

All candidates we interviewed have been verified.

 

Not only that, the candates have all earned over $10K on Upwork. Many have earned many times that.

 

I no longer think Upwork Verification is worth anything. Thats bothers me.


David A wrote:

Yes, the candidate had the check mark that he was phone verified and video verified.

 

All candidates we interviewed have been verified.

 

Not only that, the candates have all earned over $10K on Upwork. Many have earned many times that.

 

I no longer think Upwork Verification is worth anything. Thats bothers me.


That bothers me as well, as a freelancer, because I depend on the platform for a fair portion of my business. I'm aware there are freelancers who borrow or buy profiles from North American and European freelancers, with promises of easy money for no work, but didn't think enough freelancers would fall for the scam to be significant; they're scams because most probably someone who rips off clients isn't going to make promised payments to freelancers they borrow profiles from, and even if they did, the scammed freelancer probably gets nothing because they'll be stuck with the tax bill, unless they're also tax cheats.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce


John K wrote:

David A wrote:

Yes, the candidate had the check mark that he was phone verified and video verified.

 

All candidates we interviewed have been verified.

 

Not only that, the candates have all earned over $10K on Upwork. Many have earned many times that.

 

I no longer think Upwork Verification is worth anything. Thats bothers me.


That bothers me as well, as a freelancer, because I depend on the platform for a fair portion of my business. I'm aware there are freelancers who borrow or buy profiles from North American and European freelancers, with promises of easy money for no work, but didn't think enough freelancers would fall for the scam to be significant; they're scams because most probably someone who rips off clients isn't going to make promised payments to freelancers they borrow profiles from, and even if they did, the scammed freelancer probably gets nothing because they'll be stuck with the tax bill, unless they're also tax cheats.


To me, it's not that this bothers me, it's that it seems embarrassing!
When is Upwork going to realize that he has to do a thorough cleaning?
Will it be when customers leave because the platform no longer deserves their trust?
Then it will be late, because they will not get those customers to come back.
And, that's not fine:
- To depend on clients and freelancers to do the cleaning.
- To accept profiles automatically.
- To change the location of freelancers who "made a mistake" when choosing their country, or who created the account "yesterday" when they still lived in the USA (for example) and "today" live in India (for example).

it is definitely a problem and a concern for me. All I can say is that I have gotten pretty good at recognizing the tell-tale signs that a person is not who he/she says he is. 

 

Since I do a lot of Shopify work, I can see the IP address from which a freelancer logs in to their staff account. thats giveaway #1. 

 

#2 is a profile photo that seems to be clearly a stock photo (I am always a bit perplaxed that these photos can't be clicked to enlarge). Clean cut white backgrounds are too obvious. 

 

#3. Reviews show some inconsistencies - a couple of "He"'s and a random "She" in there. I have seen it. 

 

#4. Refusal to have a video chat or a bunch of excuses why not. 

 

#5. refusal to use the time tracker on jobs citing glitches and asking for manual time (although this is likely a side hustle not related to fake profiles) 

 

#6. Believe it or not, there are geographical phraseology indiosyncracies  that can crop up as well. 

 

I am always skeptical which is why I tend to revert back to my reliable go-to programmers.  

thank actually some good tips, the stock photo and now i do manual time, at least to be sure they are being honest with the work they do. It will be a good idea if when app takes snapshot it would be possible to get some settings from the conmputer about language and location that only employers can see..

Hi David,

 

I'm sorry about your experience with this freelancer. Our team will reach out to you directly via a support ticket and assist you to find the best talent for your next project.

 

Thank you!

~ Bojan
Upwork

Have them use the time tracker tool. That's one step, but a more efficient method is to communicate with your freelancers as often as possible. Ask for daily status reports and have at least 3-4 calls per week. You'll be able to tell if the person changes voice/looks etc. even if it's not a video call.

Also monitor results as closely as possible. 

Andrei,

 

Thanks, but we communicate with our freelancers many times per day. Each day at stand up and during the day working with them.

 

We don't just let people run on their own until they get our trust.

 

You're right about the time tool. That was a oversight -- or more accurately, we let the freelancer pull one over on us. He claimed he couldn't use the tool at first for some reason, and we didn't fight with him on the subject (live and learn). He then ran a truck through with manual logging by claiming illnesses and then logging big time at the end of the week...

Well said Virginia! Would give you more kudos if I could!

Virginia, my business take on this is that Upwork processes 100s of thousands (perhaps millions?) of Freelancer applications per year.

How would a corporation enact what you suggested?   By limiting the applications to a certain quota?  By excluding specific countries?

 

Upwork is naturally sensitive to their bottom line.  They are a publically traded company. In the past couple of years, their bottom line has been less than desirable. Cents per share earnings.  This is probably a contributing factor to the recent replacement of the CEO with internal talent.

 

Without any particular attachments of personal nature to the platform engaged, my heart goes out to Upwork's head of Trust and Safety department.   On the hiring side, he has fake hiring clients trying to pick off new comers with the prevalent Google Hangouts scam.  The problem indicated in this thread is surely known and most probably the source of hotly contested debate as to what to do about it.

 

We have a quarter-million-a-year corporation working with the general public in ways that involve serious amounts of money.  That equals "prime-time target".  Perhaps we can ease our frustrations with the knowledge if this platform did not exist, exactly where would we go to gain commensurate access to global talent within a system that basically works as billed.

 

I have often asked myself, if I were a contractor in a country that was over-run with talent. **Edited for Community Guidelines** And struggling to pay my rent, or feed my family, or gain access to even modest wealth known to exist elsewhere in the world.


To what extent would I be tempted to circumvent rules and seek to gain work that paid for my rent, food, and well being.  Fortunately, I do not have to find out.  Sadly, others do face that test of morals and ethics.  It must be a hard one.


John.

Hello John, on the other hand the fake programmer who were hired to do a
job, who are not qualified to get the job done, make excuses for not
completing the work.you are only excusing bad behavior in the name of
compassion. What if they went out and robbed someone on the street because
they needed the money. because when the lie about their location, ethnicity,
skill in order to get a job.it's just as bad and also goes against UPWORKS
terms of service. I do wish it would be easier to find honest and competent
programmers on this platform, unfortunately it's up to us in the end.

This post has been going for over 6 years and people are still complaining
about the same issue..
textoad
Member

Ethan, I'm in the same situation as you, have you been affected in any way by these fake chinese freelancers?  Who di you report them to? I have a few I'd like to add as well.

Thanks

 

Hi Felix,

 

Please send me a PM(click on my name) with more details about this and our team will investigate it further. Thank you.

~ Goran
Upwork
ba34a94e
Member

Yep. I caught 3 today. 3 out of 3 were fakes!  All Chinese guys.
I have four other people under contract and now I'm worried they are also fake.

I dont mind what race they are, but I do mind that there's obviously a huge possibility that their entire profile is fake and they do not posses the skillset they say they do. 

Hi Craig, there are so many of the fakers, you dont even need to try very hard,

white guy from Europe, Germany even russia, all of them have really strong asian accents.

 

I tried talking for upwork about it, even some responded to me to send them profiles of the current fakers i found, however I feel its thier system...somehow the freelancers are getting around their location check..

 

I personally would rather work with an honest freelancer.

Hi Craig, and Steve, 


I'm sorry to learn about your experience with freelancers on Upwork. As Goran has confirmed, we have a procedure to check these type of freelancers, and take proper actions against their account. However,  reporting them also helps us in investigating them faster and taking proper actions. You may want to flag the profiles you believe to be potentially lying about their location and the team will review and take the actions as they see fit.


~ Avery
Upwork


Avery O wrote:

(...) we have a procedure to check these type of freelancers, (...)


The procedure is obviously not working.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless


Rene K wrote:

Avery O wrote:

(...) we have a procedure to check these type of freelancers, (...)


The procedure is obviously not working.


There's a procedure?

jzader
Member

I have spoken to four senior Ruby on Rails developers in the past two days. All four had a thick Chinese accent, would only agree to talk by Skype audio (not video), and were evasive when I asked about their physical location.

 

This has been happening for years. I've been encountering it personally, and also one can see it from forum posts going back to at least 2014.

 

I have reported multiple such fake profiles to UpWork in the past, using the "flag profile" feature. Never have I seen such a profile disappear, as a result. And they keep working: One fake China guy I talked to today had earned over $300K on UpWork.

 

While UpWork claims to have a process in place for dealing with this, it's clearly not working well enough. Meantime, UpWork makes money off the work these fraudsters perform.

Yeah, the only way around I found is to have a video chat, but who knows who’s actually doing the work in the background.

Thank you for reporting this, Joshua!

 

Could you please click on my name and send me a PM with more information about the accounts you're referring to? I'll share those with our team for further investigation and will take action as per our internal processes.

 

Thank you!

 

~ Bojan
Upwork