9 Upwork Scams And How To Counter Them

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9 Upwork Scams And How To Counter Them

Upwork, formerly known as O-Desk, is one of the best freelance websites. Where you can hire individuals and agencies or get hired by clients. There are more than 3 million jobs posted every year on Upwork.

Despite being the world’s heavyweight freelance marketplace, Upwork scams are so prevalent and toxic.

Upwork scams could fetch you money or data loss. Occasional scammers usually target newbies. So it is recommended to do everything with caution.

Upwork Scams

Upwork Scams

The bad actors use various ways to scam people. Today we will discuss some of the most obvious Upwork scams.

If you want to avoid these scammers, then you must educate yourself to counter them.

Free Work or Trial Work Scam

Free work or trial work scam is a very well-known Upwork scam. Such scammers target noises to get unpaid or trial work. Once you complete the job and submit your best, they will make excuses and jump over.

They ask for low-cost work or free work. If you find something shady, go into their profile. Check their active jobs, total jobs, reviews, and the amount paid against the mentioned work. This will benefit you in screening the black sheep.

Data Breach or Theft

Many hackers use client accounts and share suspicious files like meeting links, zoom links, and skype interview links. In addition, they use key loggers in such links to catch your login and passwords.

Once they are victorious, they might use your login information, and account logins. They also infect pcs and laptops with viruses. Then ask for ransomware.

In my personal experience, new clients share their account details without knowing the consequences and give scammers a golden opportunity to steal their information, money, and valuable data.

Copyrighted or Plagiarised Work

Selling copyrighted images, videos, and plagiarised content is another Upwork scam. This mostly appears in content writing jobs. Inexperienced scammer freelancers use spun tools to regenerate someone else’s work to sell with their tag.

Google’s AI system can detect such content too quickly and penalize that page or the whole site. This also occurs for Youtube Videos and Google images.

Fake/Rented Seller Accounts

Many scammers buy or hire verified seller accounts. Such accounts seem professional with outstanding job success scores, several 5-star reviews, several jobs, etc.

Clients trust such well-reputed profiles foolishly, and the fake or rented person behind that profile cashes it to scam.

Fake Reviews or Unpaid Reviews

Due to the massive influx in freelance marketplaces, another scam is at its peak. Client reviews are the best source to sort out genuine and professional people.

It is hard for new sellers to get an order without positive reviews. That is why many people sell paid reviews.

Selling or purchasing fake reviews is against the ethics and ToS of freelance marketplaces. This all occurs outside Upwork.

These scammers target newbies. They demand advanced payment for the paid review. When you pay them, they quickly disappear.

Many others offer 5-star ratings on free job completion. It is all immoral and a scam, in my imagination.

Fake Job Posting

Upwork offers ten free connects every month. The minimum number of connects required for a job proposal is one, and the maximum is 6. You need to use them very nicely if you are a novice.

Several scammers post fake projects to grab the attention of the sellers. They give a website link to get free visitors.

They want you to waste your connects either free traffic to their sites or landing pages. Such links might be harmful sometimes.

Job Security Payment

Job security fund is one of the worst Upwork scams. Scammers post a project and then screen out inexperienced freelancers.

They reach out to their inbox and claim as a reputable agency or company. They ask freelancers to pay some security fees to work permanently.

Many beginners fall into this trap, and once they pay the security payment, they vanish.

Fake Check Scams

Mainly scams occur if you move outside the platform, so this also. Scammers post projects which seem very attractive and authentic. Then they shortlist candidates and arrange outside interviews.

Suddenly they announce that the company has approved you for the stated job. The company wants to pay you funds to purchase any material like stationary, iPad, or anything similar.

They send a fake check for the funds’ payment. The bank clears the check as it may take 2 to 3 working days to process.

Scammers ask you to purchase supplies from their specific vendors by using money transfer apps.

In a few days, you receive a bank email that the check was not real, and paid money is deducted from your account.

The money you spend goes to scammers. You can’t claim to a bank or Upwork. Upwork doesn’t entertain scams that happened outside its marketplace.

How to Counter Upwork Scams?

Such scams rise on other freelance marketplaces as well, so they are inevitable. There are definite forethoughts and SOPs for working throughout.

Check Previous Clients’ Feedback

The first thing which every freelance buyer or seller should view is previous clients’ feedback.

Both individuals can leave feedback on their experience with five stars and comment as well.

You must go through all the previous reviews and check whether they are actual or planted.

Negative feedback means there is a red flag, and you need to be very careful while dealing with such people.

Make Sure Payment Method Is Verified

Scam jobs or buyers usually don’t verify their payment method. Payment verification means giving extraordinary financial details to freelance marketplaces to build trust.

Trustworthy buyers or sellers use verification of their profile and payment method before starting their activity.

Do Project Verification

Project verification is a must before starting the bidding process. The project description should be well-written and not include any extraneous links.

The payment method should be verified. In addition, the project cost, level of freelancer experience, and client requirements must match.

How many freelancers are looking for this job also counts? If someone is looking for a 500 words SEO blog post and proposes $100 for it, this is probably the mismatch.

Always use filters to bid on relevant and genuine projects. This will save you from Upwork scams and connects waste as well.

Do Complete Profile Verification

Upwork has introduced the profile verification method for clients and sellers. To get the verified badge, they need to provide sufficient personal documents like ID cards, driving licenses, payment methods, and sometimes online interviews.

Make sure you have checked this at first glance. The active jobs closed jobs, hire rate, interviews, previous jobs, and amount paid should also be checked.

The profile picture is also prominent in profile verification. Make sure the client is using their profile image or company logo.

Upwork scammers use fake profiles or hire to do malicious practices.

Never Share Your Personal Information

Never share your details like usernames, passwords, bank details, or any other sensitive login information.

Sharing personal information like phone numbers or email is against the TOS. So be cautious if someone asks you to provide any personal information.

Report such profiles to Upwork to let them take action against such characters.

Check Your Delivery Before Acceptance

For clients, it is necessary to check their project delivery before accepting and releasing the payment.

You might get copyrighted or plagiarised things. Use online tools like Grammarly, Google Reverse Image Search, Copyscape, and Codequiry to check your delivered items.

Never accept the project or pay outside or inside Upwork before the work is completed.

Upwork gives hourly or fixed-priced project options. One can set milestones for jobs above $50 to avoid any mess or scam.

Never Open Suspicious Links or Files

Upwork scammers use spam links and files to access pcs or laptops. They may hijack your system and steal important information or corrupt your files.

Then they will ask you for ransom money or sell your private information to a third party.

Give Limited Access To Your Property

Suppose you are looking for a social media manager and they will require your Instagram page access to schedule posts, write descriptions, or do graphics work.

Give them limited access according to their roles, like editor, advertiser, or manager. Third-party sources like Hootsuite provide limited-access solutions for social media management.

If you have numerous social media accounts and it is tough to look after them simultaneously, use digital tools.

One more example picture of someone who requires to fix his WordPress website bugs. Allow limited access to your WordPress Developer through the user admin panel.

There are a lot of plugins that give more guarded access, like One Time Word Press Login Without Username and Password.

Never Trust Someone Blindly

Blinds trust troubles in this remote work ecosystem. Behave like a professional, follow on, and keep a check on things happening.

For example, you know a very trusted seller from months of work and coordination. You give your page admin access to that person with ultimate trust.

Unfortunately, someone hacks their account and gets access to all pages. You probably won’t get it back or have to pay for someone else’s blunder.

How to Report a Scam On Upwork?

Always stick to the Upwork terms of service, and don’t cross the line if something doubtful comes in your inspection; report it to Upwork support.

Use the Dislike Button To Discourage Scam Jobs

Upwork gives like and dislike buttons in the project feed. You can dislike the project by selecting the relevant reason.

Flag as Inappropriate

Another way to report Upwork scams is by flagging them. Open the job posting and select the flag as an inappropriate option.

Then check the relevant reason for reporting and submit it to the Upwork team to view and take action.

Contact Upwork Support

Upwork provides a live chat customer support option. An Upwork representative will join you shortly, and you can express your concerns about anything you want to do.


Mostly Upwork scams occur due the negligence or unprofessional attitude. Upwork has designed and promulgated certain terms and conditions for both freelancers and clients. They keep updating things for user safety and security.

If you fall into any scam on Upwork, report it immediately. Upwork keeps payments on hold for freelancers for up to 10 days.

If you raise your concerns about any fraud that happened to you, then your case will be handled by the Upwork support team.

If they determine it is valid, you will get a refund. So you need to be aware of such people and go wisely.


What to do if you got scammed on Upwork?

Contact Upwork support with necessary details if you get scammed on Upwork. However, if the communication and work was done outside Upwork, there will be no use of crying.

As Upwork doesn’t take responsibility of any deals, payments and work delivery outside its platform. So keep your communications and payments within Upwork.

How can you tell fake clients on Upwork?

Any buyer without positive reviews, no payment method verification and unreal job details can be a fake client or a scammer.

Do all above explained checks before applying for an Upwork job.

How to know if Upwork job is legit?

Legit jobs come with real details, pricing and verified buyers. If the clients have good reviews previously and completed jobs on their profile, they are definitely legit to work with.

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Aamir Zahoor
Aamir Zahoor

Aamir Zahoor is a professional blogger, WordPress developer, SEO consultant, and content writer. He is working on Fiverr and Upwork freelance platforms since 2019.

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