The Most Common Freelancer Scams


You might have already read dozens of articles about the pros and cons of working with freelancers. And perhaps, now and then you would see headings about the danger of the most common freelancer scams. Unfortunately, this is true: since you can never be entirely sure, whom you meet on the Internet, the risk of running into a scammer is high.

Now, before we proceed to the ways, you can distinguish between a real freelancer and a fraud, here is a shortcut to the solution to this problem. If you only want to work with reliable, competent freelancers, follow the link. If you want to tell yourself whether a freelancer is legit or scam, read on.

You can also read: How to Find Freelance Blogging Jobs?


Hijacked portfolio

This is one of the most common freelancer scams: a cheater steals a high-grade portfolio of another freelancer and places it on a freelance platform under his account (the latter are usually created for fraud and often have little to none details filled in). To do this, one need not steal the actual source works: many freelancers showcase their portfolios on services such as Behance.


Sending malicious software

When you were a kid, your mom probably told you to not go with strangers anywhere. Nowadays, you probably teach your children to not open attachments in the letters sent by the unknown addressees. Still, when working with freelancers via online platforms, it may be difficult not to exchange files at all.

Some scammers will send you malicious programs attempting to steal your data as you launch them. These may be keyloggers tracing whatever you type on your keyboard, or trojans creating security breaches in your computers, etc. Often, such software will be masked as briefing documentation or work files.


Disappearing after receiving prepayment

We also call this ghosting, and it is a vast problem across many freelance platforms. A ghost usually accepts your order and requests prepayment, which is standard practice and is not suspicious. After we transfer the money, the ghost vanishes without a trace, and their account turns out to be deleted or suspended.


Mimicking accounts of top freelancers

A mimic creates an account looking very much alike to the account of some top-rated freelancer but differing in small details. Or, they can copy such an account, and use it on freelance platforms not used by this top-rated freelancer.


Mimicking top freelancers’ contacts

This is a more sophisticated version of the scam above. A cheater creates a messenger account (in Skype or elsewhere) similar to the one used by a top-rated freelancer. I.e., if a freelancers username looks like JohnDoe77, a scammer might use a name like John.Doe77 (an almost identical username, but with a period in the middle). Then a customer receives a link to a real freelancer’s account and fake contact details.

Thinking they deal with a real person, customers call the scammer suspecting nothing. After receiving prepayment, a scammer vanishes.


Fake testimonials

Although not hurting customers directly, people faking testimonials on their freelance accounts are still scammers, because they deceive clients into believing they hire actual professionals. This scam is often used by either beginner freelancers with incomplete profiles, or by professional scammers who know the merits of trustworthy testimonials.


Broken deadlines and poor quality of work

This one of the most common freelancer scams is probably the worst (or one of the worst for sure) because it does not forthrightly violate the terms and conditions under which customers work with freelancers. You hire a freelancer for a gig, and they do their job–but its quality is so low that it can be merely called a completed order. This is if you do not give up working with such a scammer yourself first: rather often, they intentionally delay deadlines.


Freelancer is asking to make a payment before it has completed any work

Scammers may ask for the full upfront payment and then never deliver on their end of the project.

To be safe, create Milestone Payments which you can release progressively as it was complete work. Do not release the full Milestone until the project is completed, and you are satisfied with the results.

For more information on our Milestone Payment system, read the following guides;

What are Milestone Payments?

Employers – Milestone Payment

Freelancers – Milestone Payment


Freelancers work is copyrighted

If you have discovered that your freelancer’s work contains copyrighted materials, you must discuss this with your freelancer and come to a resolution via our on-site chat system.

It is important that the all work completed through the platform be original work, or that it purchases the correct licenses for any non-original work (i.e. stock photos). 


Freelancer is asking to pay for their project fee and release it before they accept the project

All Milestone Payments should be made in mind of a project fee and should include any additional costs. Release no Milestone Payment before the freelancer working on the project. Instead, negotiate a price with the freelancer and create a Milestone Payment for the project. You can release half or part of it once the freelancer has made significant progress on the project.


Freelancer is asking to send money to him/her offsite (directly via Paypal/Skrill/Bitcoin)

We should complete all transactions for a project or contest on-site via the freelancer platform. Never agree to send money to a freelancer offsite whether it is via Paypal, Skrill or even Bitcoin. By completing your transaction on our platform, you’ll have the option to create a ‘Milestone Payment’ before the freelancer begins the project.

This Milestone Payment acts as a form of guaranteed payment for the freelancer, so they know they can begin work. However, the payment is only released once the project requirements have been met, and you are satisfied with the final result.


Freelancer accepted the project and original Milestone but is now demanding more money or else he/she will delay the project

If a freelancer has accepted your project and the agreed-upon Milestone and deadline but is demanding more money for not delaying the project, then avoid starting any further Milestones. This is blackmail and is in breach of your original agreed Milestone.


Freelancer is requesting passwords, usernames or ID so they verify your identity and start the project

Do not provide any form of ID or documentation to an employer even if they are asking for it. Scammers are oftentimes successful when they have asked to “verify” an identity and are given access to the ID and other documents. Avoid starting a project with an employer if this is one of their prerequisites. Freelancer’s Know Your Customer (KYC) aims to prevent fraud and money laundering by confirming customer identity through documentation collection.


4 thoughts on “The Most Common Freelancer Scams

  1. I don’t believe a moderated Q&A could address the concerns stated, as past and potential employers could conceivable have full view. I don’t mind anonymous, then again I know enough not to trust anonymous and take anything anonymous states at face value. Given what I recall of your past comments I’m sure you understand that as well.

  2. A lot of good comments so far, happy to find this place with lots of good content.Have a nice day admin.

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