How to Spot a Scam?

There have always been scammers, however, the number of frauds on social media and on the Internet in general has increased considerably. Therefore, it is important to stay aware and proceed with extreme caution when on the Internet. In this chapter we will not talk about ordinary fraudsters setting up fake dating profiles, but about those who are ready to throw a young freelancer under a bus. Surprisingly, sometimes even experienced copywriters, designers, SEOs fall for the seemingly apparent scams. 

One of the biggest disadvantages of working from home is that when we communicate with the potential employer, we do not see that person who pays for the work we do face-to-face. Per se, it is a virtual customer with whom you do not have a signed contract and a sense of security is being maintained simply on the basis of good faith.

Of course there are certain guarantees of payment - there are the so-called freelance websites. Here the money foreseen for the payment is reserved in the system, and after the confirmation of work being done is transferred to the account of the employee. However, these kinds of services apply service fees and even by having a secure system in place, scammers can enrich themselves at your expense. 

Lets try to review most common scams that target freelancers and learn how to avoid them.Tips and tricks have been collected personally by sad experience and therefore are completely reliable. 


Customers leaving without saying goodbye.

First of all, we will talk about those customers that can be found on social networks, forums or dedicated freelance websites. This is something like a real time board with job offers, if you may say so. In these cases in order to contact a potential customer/employer, you should use a personal email or Skype account. Payment, respectively, is made directly from the customers wallet to the employees without any commissions.

So let's imagine you have reached out and started to communicate with the employer and discuss all the details regarding his project. The terms and conditions are clear, and you are starting to work on it. Next, you need to present the job done to the customer and get your payment.

Let's also mention that there was an active dialogue all along the work process between you and the employer, clarifications were given and job was done. But after the project was submitted, the customer has minimized the contact with you: «Please wait, I am still checking / busy / can't talk.»

But most of these scammers simply prefer to leave without saying goodbye. Without any «Thank you» or «Good luck», they remove your from the contact list and disappear. At this stage it gets clear that you have been scammed and the most unpleasant thing is that it is all your fault. So what exactly did you do wrong?

It’s that simple! Be careful when cooperating with customers who do not have a rating on FL.RU website or any reviews. If the employer is not verified, then the only guarantee of the future transaction on job being done may be an advance payment. Before starting any work, ask for half of the payment first and the other half later when the work is done, but keep in mind that even then you may be scammed and «forgotten».

Therefore, if possible, avoid customers that are unknown to you, newcomers and those people with whom other freelancers have not worked yet and have not left any feedback and/or review.


Constantly Unhappy Customers.

The vast majority of people will not fall into this category, however, there are scammers who can profit even if you cooperate with them via freelance website services. The work proceeds as usual, there is a technical task, you carry out the project and send it for a review. But in this scheme, all the magic happens at the last stage.

At a certain moment, the customer finds thousand errors and inaccuracies. This person believes that nothing is ever good enough and finds their satisfaction in complaining. All your recent work needs to be redone and/or finalized. After another submission for verification, new remarks appear and this happens until a certain point, when you are offered to simply «stay friends». In other words, they refuse the work you have done, but all rights of the completed project remain with the contractor. In theory, he/she can keep it, resell and use it for his/her own purpose.

Alright! It's okay, but after a month or two, you stumble upon your work online. Most of these scammers are confident that the refused work will be thrown away or forgotten, which is often the case. At the end, they get their money back and receive unique material for free.

Online fraud scams can face punishment only if they already have a certain rating and reputation among freelancers on the aggregator freelance website. In this case you can complain about the dishonest employer through arbitration or leave a negative review. But usually such customers change accounts after a week or two and start looking for a naive freelancer again.


The Myth of doing a Test-Assigment and get a job

Nowadays the majority of websites warn freelancers that performing any tests or assignments prior to starting legit cooperation on a project is unacceptable. Therefore, your application for work must be accepted and only then you can open Word, Photoshop or any other software and start your work. Nevertheless, many freelancers find job offers that indicate the need to perform the test-assignment prior to starting. In addition, a customer promises great price for your work, huge volumes and a bright future.

A job sent to an email can simply get lost in spam, but most often this is one of the schemes to get a job done for free. Let's assume you are not familiar with the customers, you did not communicate nor seen him/her. Your work was received, but for some reason did not meet customer expectations or standards and therefore you might not even have received an answer. It can happen, but in practice, the completed task is already published on the website or has been sold to someone else.

Therefore, we recommend you to forget about completing any prior tests, as they are nothing more than an excuse for a scam. If the employer really needs to know your professional level in performing a specific job, then you can provide him/her with your portfolio. Submit few of those and it will be enough for the initial acquaintance with you.



The Final Thought.

In the modern age, scammers have settled down in absolutely every corner of the Internet, where they feel as comfortable and confident as possible. However, this does not mean that you have to give up the dream of working as a freelancer in a virtual environment. Remember that hundreds of thousands of freelancers are successfully generating income from their projects. Of course most of them have already taken a little tumble, but luckily for you this is the experience that you got from the article, and they - from practice.

Remember to be more careful when working with new customers, ask for an advance payment and demand additional guarantees. Try to cooperate with large and well known freelance websites and carefully study available feedback about the employers before taking any new projects to work on. This way you will protect yourself from being scammed.