Frauds and scams in freelancing are rare, but they do happen. If you’re a freelancer, you must take caution when accepting a new gig. Otherwise, you run the risk of never getting paid for a project you worked on and losing money in the process.
Here are 4 signs your freelance gig might be fraudulent.
1. The Scammer Asks to Contact You on Skype
A scammer might list a fake job on a legitimate job site like LinkedIn or Upwork, then hold interviews and conduct the onboarding process with their “hires” via Skype.
They will probably use Skype to ask for your personal information like your social security number, email address, home address, full name, or direct deposit information to process the scam.
Note: Online scams can include virus attacks and fake bank transfers. Follow your gut intuition when it comes to fishy hires, and if you suspect a virus, use a network-attached storage data recovery system to recover lost information on your computer.
2. The Onboarding Process Seems Rushed
An onboarding process for a new job with a new client should include a balanced give-and-take between the client and the freelancer. If they’re pestering you with emails to meet or seem extremely eager to give you the job, take caution.
3. The Job and the Pay Don’t Match Your Skills
If the freelance position and the rate don’t match the market standard for your qualifications as a skilled freelancer in the industry, then it isn’t wise for a client to hire you. If they insist on hiring you, they may be attempting to scam you.
4. The Client Offers to Send Money via an Emailed Check
There’s no reason for a client to make any payment to you by check sent to your email.
Scammers might offer to pay the freelancer with a check sent via email for work done or as a prepayment, bonus, or stipend for materials and tools to do the freelance project.
For example, clients looking for a freelancer to work for them on a long-term project might ask the freelancer to purchase a printer and a specific laptop model for the job.
The client may ask you to make the purchase by receiving a photo of a check in your email, printing the photo out, signing, and depositing it to your bank account via mobile deposit. The client may ask you to take a picture of the deposit confirmation and send it to them.
Why is this suspicious? Well, attempting to cash a photographed check without having the original check in your possession violates bank terms and conditions related to remote deposits.
Your bank will probably reject the attempted deposit of a photographed and printed check.
How the Scam Works:
While the check routing number, bank account number, and bank institution may be legitimate, the scammer will likely say that some of the check information was incorrect and ask for a money transfer, and meanwhile, the check will probably bounce. This is a loss of money for you.
A scammer has likely sent the same check photo to multiple people. When the recipient prints, deposits, and confirms to the client that the check has been deposited by sending a photo of the deposit confirmation, the scammer will likely tell you that the amount or other information on the check was accidentally written incorrectly and ask that you purchase a money order for the same amount as was written on the check to refund the money.
The scam happens when the money order is en-route and the check you deposited to your bank bounces. The scammer will receive the money order and probably won’t contact you again — you’ve now lost the same amount of money you thought you were receiving.
If your new client shows warning signs of fraudulent business, stop responding to them right away and report them on job platforms to warn other freelancers of the danger.