As Covid-19 continue to claim lives and wreck havoc on businesses across the world, remote way of working has become the new modus operandi. Fraudulent business groups on social media are emerging everyday targeting new and existing freelancers who are desperate to make money online.
In this blogpost, I will share my personal way of identifying a typical fraudulent Freelancer recruitment funnel on social media. This will in give you a picture of how the scheme looks like and how it is very hard to suspect. They will lure you to doing work for free or once you are in, they pay as they wish with false promises of increasing the pay.
These rackets are all over Reddit. This does not mean Reddit is a bad social media network. It’s the bad motives by some of the users.
If you have never been to Reddit, all I can say based on my personal experience is, it’s a good social media network where people share valuable information for free. Note the word FREE. This is the catch that fraudsters are using to get free service from You -the user- without you suspecting anything.
For the short time have been on Reddit, I have enjoyed every bit of information that I found shared on Reddit groups.
It got even better when I noticed that people were posting work opportunities for Freelancers. Me being a full time Freelancer, I decided to respond to one of them by messaging the person who offered the opportunity.
Here is a snippet of the offer.
Please take note of what the client is offering here. I have highlighted them in yellow so that you can see their hook.
They offer $10-100 to edit 1 Minute Videos
It means they will pay each editor that gets into their funnel based on how the negotiate for a given assignment. If you are confident enough to negotiate, you will be paid better. Sadly, many new and even experienced freelancers are afraid to negotiate because they fear being denied the opportunity. So if the client fixes a budget on a given video, they will accept. This takes me to the second hook.
10-20 Videos Per Week
This is very enticing to anyone looking for sustainable income. Any Freelancer will do a quick math using the average pay which is around $55 per video. If you do 10 videos a week you make $550 and if you do 20 videos a week, you make $1100. This is good money. Moreover, it will be recurrent work. One has a potential of earning $2200-4400 a month working directly with the client. In fact if you are paid $100 per video, you will earn $4000-$8000 a month.
This is enough to blind any freelancer. I mean this is good money. One can do anything to get the job:-). This is where they begin their show now that they have your attention.
The Screening Process
Like any other interview, before you are considered, you are required to submit your portfolio. That’s what Freelancers do everyday right inside their cover letters when bidding for work.
As you can see,they will first review your porfolio and if you are fit, they will ask you to do a ‘test project‘ to confirm your capability. Now, this is where one knows if its going to end well or it is going to turn out as a fraudulent opportunity.
Trusted freelancing sites like Upwork have implemented a policy regarding to test project to protect freelancers from fraudulent clients who their sole purpose is to waste Freelancers time. The condition is; that clients have to pay Freelancers for any test projects.
Having found this policy helpful is protecting myself, I apply it everywhere.
Now, in the post, the client concluded that the test project will be paid-which is still in line with the policy.
Next Steps After Submitting My Portfolio
The client liked my portfolio and not elevated me to the next stage of their Freelance Recruitment funnel, a slack channel for Video editors working for them. The channel had more than 40 members.
All instructions on how to go about the test project was in there. After, going through the files, I was happy. The instructions was very clear. Seeing that I had all that I needed to proceed, I contacted the team lead to clarify 3 things;
- How they pay editors – Is it via Paypal, or bank transfer e.t.c
- If they have an Non Disclosure Agreement to sign before starting work
- How much they pay for the test project which looked like everyone in the channel was supposed to work on.
The VA could not answer that. This was the first sign that was something was not right. In response, she referred me to their accountant who deals with paying freelancers.
She avoided the question on having and signing a contract before work. That’s was alarming. I mean, who works for a company without a contract in place especially when you consider the amount of money one will earn while doing the job?
This is very important. Loosing $4000 a month is not a joke. What if they pay at the end of the month and after you do the job, they remove you from the slack channel or stop responding to your concerns. Anything is possible.
Having a contract is a sign of commitment.
In their video editing post, they said they were going to pay for the test project. But on persistently consulting the accounts clerk on Slack before working on the test project, I was surprised to learn from her that they DON’T PAY for test project.
This is enough. If they don’t pay for test, withdraw from the interview and forget it.
But how many Freelancers do this?
If all of the 40+ Freelancers in the channel had started doing the job without confirming if they were going to be paid for the test or not, what does it tell you about their level of seriousness towards freelancing? Its vague right.
Those are the same freelancers you will hear soon crying that they were not paid.
The only way we can stand out as full time freelancers online is upping our game based on our experiences for us to gain trust and respect from new clients looking to hire online.
If you have any question regarding to this blogpost, send me an e-mail to email@example.com
Until next time, be vigilant and take care.