Old But Gold: Freelancing Scam – 7 Tips to Spot a Potential Scam

Original article – Freelancing Scams – Equipped Yourself With These Tips (Jan, 2009)

Second article – Signs of Freelancing Scams (April, 2011)

Third article – Identifying Freelancing Scams (Nov, 2012)


I have written about freelancing scam back in 2009, 2011 & 2012 and it is never too late to have an update and recap.

Here’s 7 tips (updated) on how to spot a potential freelancing scam:

  1. Your instinct. Believe it or not, this is actually very important and also the easiest way to detect a potential scam. If it feels too good to be true, then it is probably 99% scam.
  2. Vague or unclear job description in a job ad. I don’t trust any potential clients who are not willing to spend some time explaining the job with all the important details.
  3. Paid to get paid – it means you are being asked to pay in advance in order to score a job.
    WARNING: Never pay anyone in advance for a job that you don’t even know if you will be hired / paid. It is even better if you don’t pay anyone for any job at all! Remember, you should not be paying money in advance to get a job. Sites such as Elance (aka Upwork) and Guru charge a certain fee (usually around 10%) but that is only after you get paid through their Escrow payment system.
  4. Free samples (most common for jobs related to writing and design).
  5. Attempt to avoid Escrow – this is common on freelancing sites such as Elance (aka Upwork). They will do everything they can to persuade you to use a different payment method.
    NOTE: If you are on freelancing sites such as Elance (aka Upwork), you are not allowed to use a different payment method. If you insist on using a different payment method other than through their site, you are held responsible for your own action. They would not be able to do anything if you are being scammed (i.e. not getting paid).
  6. Paid samples – sounds good right? No! Although not all jobs that require “paid” samples are scams, it is best to be cautious! This might be a trick to “fish” you into providing them free content. Beware! If in doubt, refer to tip #1.
  7. Contests that require you to sign an IP Deed, probably asking you to hand over your IP rights to the organiser, so make sure you do a background check before entering any contests.


Look out for these words or sentences –

“Very easy data entry job…”

“Native-speaking english writers…”

Any additional tips? Leave a comment!

*I do enjoy coffee, and if I have it my way, I might have more than one cup of coffee a day, so feel free to fund my coffee addiction 🙂

Identifying Freelancing Scams

I have written in general about Freelancing Scams in 2009 and this post is an updated version.


In 2009, I have discussed a few ways to identify freelancing scams. However, 2013 is approaching and this is the perfect time to revise some of the most common scams in the freelancing industry.

Common Signs of Scam

Unique Article as Sample

Situation: Employer will request a unique article sample (NOTE: if you are a designer, you might be asked to present a unique logo design as a sample).

Reality: You are providing a piece of unique work for nothing.Personal View: Personally I have experienced this in my early months. I have written a few articles, sent them to the so-called employer and never get paid.

Payment Out of System

Situation: Freelancing sites such as Freelancer.com and Elance.com require payment through their system. Any payment out of the system is a breach of their terms and conditions. Now, some employers prefer to pay out of the system to avoid fees.

Reality: Most employers who seek payment out of the system are scammers. They do not have the intention of paying at all. It is not recommended to accept payment out of the system for first-time clients (employers).

Brief Job Description

Situation: The job description is too general.

Reality: It is usually fake (although not always).

Low Pay

Situation: You are being offered low rate (e.g. $1 for 500 words).

Reality: First, they just want to save money. Secondly, they are fooling you into thinking that you are worth such rate because you are “new”.

Too Good To Be True

Situation: You smell something fishy.

Reality: Trust your instinct. Chances are you are right, there’s something wrong.

Pay First Scheme

Situation: You are required to pay in order to “secure” the job.

Reality: Once they received your payment, they will disappear into the thin air.

Revenue Sharing

Situation: You are required to submit articles and your earning depends on the traffic to your articles and the number of clicks on the ads.

Reality: If you don’t mind writing for peanuts, you might want to try this. However, in most cases, they are fraud.

Personal View: I have tried on Triond. While the earning is rather low, but at least they pay as promised, every month.

Newbie Trap

Situation: In exchange of “experience”, you are required to work for low pay or no pay.

Reality: They are insisting on the fact that you are “new” and to lure you into thinking that you are gaining “experience”, you are required to work on low pay or no pay. In other words, this is a waste of time and total scam.


Please beware of the signs when looking for freelance jobs / gigs / work

*I do enjoy coffee, and if I have it my way, I might have more than one cup of coffee a day, so feel free to fund my coffee addiction 🙂

Signs of Freelancing Scams

As a freelancer, the biggest challenge is to detect and avoid scams.

I, myself have been scammed twice throughout my freelancing career.

Over the years, I have discovered that most scams have the same “modus operandi”.

With so many freelancing bidding sites on the internet, not all employers are serious and legitimate.

People are willing to do anything to gain a few bucks, illegally.

Look out for these signs to help you avoid scams.


1. Too good to be true.

Trust your instinct. If you believe the job ad is a scam, don’t apply!

2. Typos in the job ad.

Since their intention is to scam people, they don’t bother to spell check.

3. Advance payment

This is outrageous as you are not supposed to pay to land a job, unless if it is a scam. You pay for nothing.

4. Lack of information in the job ad.

Some job ads are very brief. Little details are revealed and usually this means trouble.

5. Sign up to apply for a freelance job.

You have already signed up on Freelancer.com or Elance and now you have to sign up on another site to secure a job? Pass.

6. A link in the job ad.

Be cautious. Usually the link will redirect to another job bidding site, which requires you to sign up and/or pay.

7. Familiar ad (seen it somewhere else / seen it many times).

You know you have seen the same ad over and over again. This is bad news. Pass.

8. The ad claims that the job is suitable for “students” or “new writers”.

Usually this means you have to work for “free” to gain experience because you have no experience.

9. Request for a specific sample article.

It is undeniable that legitimate employers will ask for sample article. However, when employers request for a specific sample article such as “How to Dress like Kate Middleton” instead of “write an article of 500 words on Kate Middleton”, they might use the article without paying for it. Imagine if 10 job seekers submitted 10 different versions of the same title, they have 10 unique articles for free.

10. No escrow.

A clear indication that the employer might not be serious in hiring you or anyone.


Feel free to add more!

*I do enjoy coffee, and if I have it my way, I might have more than one cup of coffee a day, so feel free to fund my coffee addiction 🙂

Scams, Lies, More Scams

I wrote about scams and how to detect a scam some time ago. Please read the article if you want to know more about how you can protect yourself from being scammed.

Today, I am going to share a few Private Messages (that I suspect to be scams from Digital Point).This is as a reference for everyone. Never falls easily on these messages.

Message 1:

Make At Least $100 A Day Online In Your Spare Time -VIDEO PROOF

Can you imagine being able to generate $100’s each day, even within an hour or two.
As soon as you apply the method within minutes you can start making money.

There is a PROOF VIDEO:

Please visit below page for Detail:

http://———–   (a website url)

You will be part of the 10% that make real money!!!



Comment: Sounds too good to be true. No such thing. If there is, I would like to hear from you.

Message 2:

How I Made $603,094.00 In Just 7 Days?

Discover Exactly How I Made $603,094.00 In Just 7 Days
As My Personal Diary Reveals The Exact Steps, Plan and Secrets I used
To Create A $600,000+ Formula That You Can Duplicate ?

It’s life changing material indeed that
will help you to improve your life
and your business.

Please visit below page for Detail:

http://———— (a website url)



Comment: This one is even worse. If everyone can do that, everyone would be unbelivable rich.

Do you beg to differ? Have your say here.

Message 3:


I will pay you $40 to your PayPal within 24 hours if you sign-up with a web-hosting website for just $0.01 with your own PayPal.

You just have to spend $0.01 from your PayPal to earn the $40 from me by PayPal.

Are you interested ?

If yes …..

(—— there is a series of instructions ——)

After this, plz send me an invoice of $40 by PayPal to me to xxx and write your email address with which you have signed-up with that website in the “Message” field (so that I can verify whether you have indeed signed-up or not) and within 24 hours, I will pay you $40 to your PayPal.

Thax and have some action ! Happy earning !




Comment: Pay 1 cent to earn $40? Who would do that?

Have you come across this message? Do you pay the 1 cent? Did you get the $40 within 24 hours. I would love to hear all about it (success stories or scams).


What do have to say about that? Do you believe in these type of messages? Do tell here…

*I do enjoy coffee, and if I have it my way, I might have more than one cup of coffee a day, so feel free to fund my coffee addiction 🙂

Freelancing Scams – Equipped Yourself With These Tips

When you start out as a freelancer, there are many unexpected things that would happen but if you read this, I am sure you can avoid some of the bumps (specifically freelancing scams) along the way and have a smooth ride in freelancing.

This is based on my experience so I would be able to tell you what happened to me along the way but if you encountered something new, feel free to share with us.


I had registered as a member at GAF (GetAFreelancer, edit: now known as Freelancer.com) and it was time to place some bids on the projects suitable with my abilities.

I got 15 bids a month and if I needed more bids, I would have to upgrade my account ($12 a month). However, it was my first time looking for jobs through GAF so I didn’t upgrade.

I placed a few bids in a day hoping that someone would actually hire me but I waited and waited for days, weeks and finally one day someone did answered me.

It was a content writing task for a website but the pay would be $24 for the whole project.

Still, this was the very first project I got. Hoping for better projects to come along later, I accepted the task and completed it within 2 days. Then, happily I got payment from my first client.

Feeling good about myself and my performance, I continued to bid for more projects and definitely high pay projects.

My second project came along but it wasn’t as lucky as the first project. This was a scam.

At first, I didn’t noticed the signs. I had no experience, what would I expect?

Here are a few guidelines on how to detect scams in the first place… so that you can avoid.

1. The buyer always insist on paying through PayPal or other payment methods but never use Escrow. While this doesn’t seems like a problem, actually this is also the biggest problem. Before you get to know your buyer, request for Escrow to ensure that you get paid when you have completed the work. Many scam cases are buyers refuse to pay when the freelancers have completed the work. There is no way to ‘force’ the buyers to pay except through Escrow because only freelancers have the right to deny a payment when the payment is in Escrow.

2. The job description is brief. You should get more details before you bid on any projects (no matter which sites you are using).

3. The buyer will ask for samples. Usually when a buyer request for a sample or two, the buyer will give a few topics and request you (the provider) to complete all the topics (or maybe one – depending on the buyer). This is also a sign of scam. You write the sample and hand it in to the buyer. The buyer gets the article for free and you are not being hired for the job. The buyer wins and you lose.

4. Follow your heart. If you are suspecting something is not right, don’t bid on that project.

5. Check out forums like FreelanceAIR.org for information on scams especially the list of scammers to prevent falling into traps. This forum is specially created to raise awareness about the scams happening in most freelancing sites.

6. Con man usually offers rates that are too good to be true. Something similar as in work less, earn more. In reality, money doesn’t fall from the sky.  Don’t be a fool!


While these are guidelines on identifying freelancing scams, they are not necessary true for all projects. As a prevention, you need to be cautious all the time. Otherwise, you will end up doing work without getting paid.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

*I do enjoy coffee, and if I have it my way, I might have more than one cup of coffee a day, so feel free to fund my coffee addiction 🙂