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Freelancers: Scams on Upwork, other job sites could cost you

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Hackers have gotten pretty crafty, going to great lengths to trick people on job sites – and they’re getting away with it pretty readily.

digital hoarding

Toto, we’re not on Craigslist anymore

Anyone who has freelanced for more than five minutes has learned to be on guard for potential scams. On sites like Craigslist, you’d expect to find scams, but more and more, suspicious activity can be found on freelance job sites such as Upwork. And it’s not as simple as companies trying to dupe you out of the wage you were promised – nowadays hackers are even using freelance sites to install malware and steal personal information.

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Worst interview ever

Emilie Syverson at Hackernoon reports that she was recently fooled by a “relatively well-disguised” scam on Upwork. Syverson is a copywriter who responded to a job post, only to discover that a keylogger (malware that steals your passwords) had been installed on her computer.

The ad seemed legit, although Syverson did note that the company was new to Upwork and that their payment method had not been verified.

After applying, Syverson was contacted for a Skype interview. During her interview with “Judith,” she was sent a .zip file that contained a document about formatting guidelines, as well as another file that appeared as a shortcut, but did nothing when you clicked it.

“Judith” convinced Syverson to temporarily uninstall her antivirus software, claiming that Skype must be blocking the file. When the file still didn’t work, Syverson became suspicious. “After going to ‘Properties’ and seeing that weird-ass file path, I was definitely suspecting some kind of malware infection attempt,” she says.

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Always ask questions

Next, Syverson took a screenshot of the “Judith” and ran a reverse image search. She found that the person in the picture worked for a company that was not the company listed on the Upwork ad, suggesting that the photograph was stolen.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Syverson began asking too many questions and “Judith” dropped out of the conversation.” quote=”Syverson began asking too many questions and “Judith” dropped out of the conversation.”]

Reddit users who’d fallen for a similar scam warned Syverson that her computer was probably infected with a keylogger. She was forced to reset her laptop and use a second device to change all of her passwords.

Luckily, Syverson was able to make these changes before any of her personal information was stolen. Her advice to other freelancers for avoiding such scams?

“Always be careful with Upwork clients. Make sure you know who you’re working for, and don’t be afraid to ask them for a company name, a LinkedIn profile, or anything else to show you that they’re a legitimate person or agency.”

Ask questions and never click on strange links or open .zip files without knowing their legitimacy.

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#UpworkScam

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Shelly Steward

    February 16, 2017 at 11:52 am

    This has happened to me, as well. I never had any issues on odesk, and they were pretty great to work for. But I found that upwork is a scam in itself because of the outrageous fees paid by both client and contractor. I just avoid them at all costs period, anymore.

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  3. Don

    June 20, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Be Warned! Upwork is now scamming US freelancer’s banking info! They have started a new policy of requiring additional info above and beyond your current financial data to “prove” you are a US resident for a new option for clients to request only US workers. They refuse a driver’s license and want your banking info…which does NOT prove residency. So all you guys overseas, start looking for a fake address and setup a bank account I guess. It looks like a bank scam. I contacted them, went through 3 levels of support before they said they were not interested in me proving where I live, but want my bank info!

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