Designers Beware of the Latest Upwork Scam

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If you’re not familiar with the Elance-oDesk lovechild known as Upwork, it’s a marketplace where you can hire freelancers or get freelance jobs online. Unfortunately it has become cesspool of scammers involving identify theft and fraud.

Designer Ben Cline tweeted yesterday that someone has been impersonating him and using his identity and reputation within the the industry to land jobs in the marketplace.

Tweet from Ben Cline

Earlier this month I was surprised to find another scammer myself, purely by accident. A freelance writer by the name of Tiffany Jansen had a profile listed on Upwork stating that she would do freelance writing for $10 per hour. Since it seemed too cheap to be true, I decided to Google her and send her a direct email.

Within minutes I received a response from her:

Upwork Scam Response

A few quick searches on Twitter provides more insights into the ongoing issues they seem to be having.

Unfortunately technical issues also seem to be rampant. The site is constantly timing out or going offline. Not to mention the disaster of UX issues the site has, making it horribly confusing to use. I went to pull screenshots from the site to outline how terrible their UX is and I couldn’t even access the site ¯\_(?)_/¯


I reached out to CEO Stephane Kasriel on Twitter to see if he could comment on what their plans are to better combat the scamming issue. I was hoping to get a response directly from him talking about how they might be working on a process to make users upload a photo ID or some sort of additional security feature to prevent identify theft.

Unfortunately, the only response I received was from their @UpworkHelp Twitter handle with a bunch of broad-sweeping comments how they have “rigorous tools and protocols” in place and how they’re “continually updating their processes to keep up with the latest best practices”.

Terrible Upwork Help Response

They also appear to be completely clueless on Facebook as well. For a company funded for $74 million I would expect them to invest a little more effort into taking care of their customers and working hard on their forward facing message to clean up their image.

If you have any sort of public facing profile online advertising your services you need to watch out for this Upwork scam. If you start getting strange tweets or emails, you might want to follow up to make sure your identify isn’t being used by a scammer on Upwork.

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