Thursday, May 17, 2007

WARNING: New Scam Job Site Targeting Freelancers

I Googled my name last night – as I often do – to see where my work is appearing. It’s a vanity/confidence boosting thing.

As I clicked through the links, I ran across an ad on Craigslist and what do I find? One of my articles – the whole thing – pasted in the body of a job ad.

The poster, fraudulently, had changed the title of the article and inserted their website address in the body of the article to make it seem like I promoted their site. The kicker? The copyright information was left intact. This is what infuriated me the most.

I’ve had my articles stolen before – outright copied word for word. BUT, in most instances, the copyright information was removed and the thief’s information was put there. This felt like so much more of a violation because they changed the article to make it appear as if I endorsed their site.

And, they outright lied in the article – inputting text that I hadn’t written.
Here it is – in black and white. NOTE: Italicized copy is what they changed/inserted.

Original Article Copy

The 7 Highly Effective, Profitable Habits of Successful Freelancers

I’ve been in publishing since 1987, have been a freelancer since 1993 and ran an editorial staffing agency in New York City from 1996 through 2004.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that successful freelancers, eg, those who make their living entirely from freelancing (writing, editing, copywriting, web design, etc.), have the following seven traits in common.

Altered Copy

HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL FREELANCER AND MAKE REAL JOB MONEY AT HOME

I’ve been in publishing since 1987, have been a freelancer since 1993 and ran an editorial staffing agency in New York City from 1996 through 2004.

Now I do most of my work freelance online, and it is very lucrative. (try Getafreelancer.com) Over the years, I’ve noticed that successful freelancers, eg, those who make their living entirely from freelancing (writing, editing, copywriting, web design, etc.), have the following seven traits in common.


POST CONTINUED BELOW
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Endangering Your Reputation & the Chance for Future Work

What was so disconcerting about this is the fact that my reputation is on the line. It’s one thing to outright steal my work and put your name on it – at least if you leave it intact, it’s still my (brilliant, I think!) ideas being distributed.

BUT, if you alter copy and leave my name on it, then it’s stealing from me. They’re using my hard-earned reputation in the industry to promote their crappy service. I’m forever linked to them. What does this do for my chances for future work – especially if they’re embroiled in some scandal? Arrgghhhh! The more I type the madder I’m getting.

Your Free Articles Used to Promote Other’s Ventures

The real shame in all of this is that the article was offered freely by me – as most of my articles on freelance writing are.

They could have just posted their ad anywhere near the article – even smack dab in the middle of it (think Google ads on a site) – if they had stated that it was an advertisement and the article was “Continued Below.”

So, beware of GetAFreelancer.com. The funny thing is, on their site, they write: “GetAFreelancer.com is one of the largest sites of its kind. We have earned a good reputation and you can trust us.”

As my father used to say, “You don’t have to say what’s obvious.” Why would you have to tell someone they can trust you – their policies would automatically convey that, don’cha think?

If they are willing to stoop to such low measures as stealing from others to promote their site – then what other unethical measures are they employing? Eg, not paying freelancers for work, posting fraudulent projects, listing fake testimonials, etc.

Freelancers are so hungry for work that many depend on the pay for job sites – which I’ve always thought were mostly bottom feeders.

The universe speaks to you in strange ways. I’d just read an article yesterday by Associated Content writer, Regina Paul, another freelance scam site, FreelanceWorkExchange.com, aka GoFreelance.com. She details in an article her experience with this site. Read about it here.

NOTE TO FREELANCERS: There is legitimate work out there that you can find on your own. Beware of sites that ask you to pay for memberships, job listings, etc. Most of them are not worth the money.

What action can you take if this happens to you? Notify the webmaster of the site where the material is listed and ask that it be removed. I did this and Craigslist removed the ad -- literally within minutes of me notifying them.

For all the grief they get for posting bogus/no-paying/low-paying jobs, they came through on my request. For this, they get my undying thanks – for me personally – and for all the freelancers out there who would have potentially wasted hard-earned money on this site.

Know of a scam targeting freelancers? Let me know and I'll gladly post it!
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Yuwanda Black is the publisher of InkwellEditorial.com: THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less -- Guaranteed! Log on to InkwellEditorial.com.
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21 comments:

Laura said...

This is downright deception and fraud. The firm did this needs to have the book thrown at them!

Thanks for alerting me to this scam. You inspired me to google my own name to make sure it isn't happening to me.

Inkwell Editorial said...

Laura, glad you found the post helpful -- I was so mad when I saw this that I could've spit nails. I mean, the unmitigated gall of these people -- arrggghhhh!

Hope it's not happening to you.
Yuwanda

Magnus said...

I'm the owner of GetAFreelancer.com and I find this post very strange. Why on earth would we do a thing like this? To ruin our reputation?

This is slander and I suggest you remove this or change it to something accurate. I understand you're upset by someone stealing and changing your article but there is no reason to give us a bad name just because they used our name in the article.

Please think again. Why would we do a thing like this? We spend thousands DAILY on ads and could buy hundrads of articles like this daily if we wanted to.

Again, remove or change this post to something accurate or I will have to take other actions.

Inkwell Editorial said...

Magnus,

If your company did not list the post, then I apologize for my rebuttal. BUT, why else would I assume that someone else did it, as it was listed as a "single" job post on Craigslist.org -- and your company was the only one to derive benefit from it.

It's not like someone stole the article and put their name in the copyright section and simply mentioned your company. They (i) outright lied in the piece (ie, inserting "Now I do most of my work freelance online, and it is very lucrative. (try Getafreelancer.com);" and (ii) changed the name of the article altogether to make it seem as if I promoted your company.

In all fairness, what else could I assume? Why would anyone else do this. Where's the benefit for them, as no other company name is listed.

Again, I apologize if no one from your company did this. BUT, in the interest of clearing my name and making it known that I did not write that piece, I feel it only fair that both sides be heard.

You've had your say; I've had mine. Now, let freelancers decide for themselves.

Continued success to you.

Sincerely,
Yuwanda Black, Publisher
InkwellEditorial.com
InkwellEditorial.blogspot.com

Magnus said...

Laura,

I wish i know why. This way our company gets hurt twice.

I didn't see the original post and have no way to see if it could benefit the poster in any other way. No way to contact him/her? no link to any website? Just anonymous? I've never used craigslist for obvious reasons. I post my projects on GetAFreelancer.com and have done so when needed. For example, I've bought articles there. I'm not a theif and have no reason to steal. The site is going great.

If the poster couldn't earn anything on the post...I can only think of one reason. It was posted to hurt us. It's not the first time.

Magnus

Inkwell Editorial said...

FYI, Magnus, readers, the original post was taken down literally minutes after I sent in my request to Craigslist. If I'd have thought about it, I would have saved the post.

I did, however, send an email to the blind e-mail address in the ad asking that it be removed. As of yet, no response.

Again, I apologize if GetaFreelancer.com has been accused wrongly, but I have my reputation to protect.

As my mother used to say, "It will all shake out the way it's supposed to." Ifyour company is honorable, then hordes of freelancers will come forward to state so, I'm sure.

NOTE TO FREELANCERS: If you have experience with GetAFreelancer.com, write in. I'll publish all posts.

Sincerely,
Yuwanda Black, Publisher
InkwellEditorial.com
InkwellEditorial.blogspot.com

Magnus said...

Laura,

I just wish that you sticked to what you know is true. This way you do to us what others did to you. Just in a different way.

You could protect your reputation without
posting slander about us.

I hope your mum is right. I just know that people who read posts like this don't always represent tho normal user of our site.

It's a bit ironic when our adsense ad pops up next to this article...

Magnus

seo ranter said...

I have had this done to my work a lot of times.

Don't let magnus threaten you to take the post down. Leave it up in the interest of fairness. He already got to say his piece in the comments.

And i have nothing but good things to say about Getafreelancer.com. I use it all the time.

Inkwell Editorial said...

Thanks for the input SEO ranter. I'm glad to hear from someone who uses the service.

And, I have no intention of taking the post down as it represents both sides -- and I think it only fair that all see this.

Continued success to you.

websiteproject said...

I am currently using Getafreelancer.com

I posted my project and paid the freelancer to get started. He has done nothing and will not respond to my emails. I will track him down if needed and am not happy with getafreelancer.

Roy Daniel DSilva said...

Whoops, and I thought I was the only who got duped in freelance writing.

Well, I have been writing for the past six years, freelance as well as fulltime. I am not here to spam this comment box, but I have some very important and interesting information about freelance scam. I will post the entire comment my brother, sister-in-law and I went through:

The Biggest Cheat There Ever Was, Is And Will Be - Elliott Leee

I am sure what I am going to say now will shake off the socks of every content writer present in the world. This is the bitterest experience anyone can ever have, so be warned.

I have been mightily cheated by Elliott Leee, and I call upon everyone to be very vigilant about this person. Here's my story.

I am a freelance writer and this Elliott Leee contacted me through one of them. His username is richuser2008 there (later I found out he has one more username richuser2009 also, on the same site). Okay, he contracted me to do 100 articles in 2 days for him. The articles were of 500 words each, and on various topics. The payment decided for them was $600. Normally, freelance sites allow for escrow, and I prefer that mode, but this Elliott Leee said he will not escrow because he didn't have funds. Still, I needed the money, so I accepted the work. I have a kid aged 1.5 years and parents aged 61 and 73 years to look after. So I accepted. That was my mistake number one.

I put all my other work on the backburner and started his articles. It was unreal work, but I knew I would do it. He was bombarding me with emails. He wanted 10 articles every hour. I employed my wife and brother on the job too, and between us, we did the 10 articles in the
first hour. I mailed him those. He accepted, said they were good, and said he wanted the next 10 within the next hour. I kept on sending, and with every mail he only said 'Send me the next 10 asap'. There was no thanks, no decency in this person, he was only swallowing the articles without a burp.

After 50 articles were done, I indicated about the payment. I asked him to pay at least $300, which was the amount for the work completed. He refused outright. He said he would pay as soon as the 100th article was submitted. I had no option but to plow on.

Anyways, I will get to the end now. I finished the 100 articles in the stipulated 2 days. This guy was awake day and night, and didn't allow me to sleep either. He wanted articles every hour, and would allow only a few hours sleep. But, he refused to give me any chat ids. Email was our only conversation.

So, 2 days, 40+ emails and 100 articles later, I asked him for the payment. His emails suddenly stopped. After about eight hours, he emailed me about a problem. He said that some other writer had fallen sick or something and could not complete her articles. He said her 29 articles were pending. And since those were completed, he could not send the articles to his client and his client would not pay. I told him this was unfair. He was almost like a dictator in his reply - do
these 29 more, or there can be no payment. Really, he was so brutal. I had to do those 29 more articles.

I took one more day to finish, not a whole day though. And I sent him those 29 also. The dues were now $780 and I was waiting for them.

After a few repeated reminders from my side, I got an email from him. He said he has paid on PayPal. I got a confirmation email from "PayPal" too. But the money did not show on PayPal. I waited four hours, thinking it might take time or something. But the money never came. And then I minutely scrutinized the "confirmation email". It was a carefully planned out hoax. The email was a spoof. I reported it to PayPal immediately.

And then Elliott Leee stopped responding. No further communication occurred. In my last mail, I only told him how he was a criminal, and how I will expose him. He never replied to that.

Three days later, I was checking my freelance account where I first found this fellow. I was shocked to see the site had deducted $30 from my account for this project with Elliott Leee. I opened a dispute ticket with them.

Let me tell you also what PayPal and the freelance site did (or rather, did not do).

PayPal never replied to my report on the spoof mail. How can they not even be concerned about someone spoofing their emails? What's the security for us then, when the biggest online bank of the world is so laidback about such crime? A couple of days later, I only got an email from PayPal saying that there's no transaction of $780 on the said date. And they gave me a litany of preaching on what I must do to avoid phishing. Fat help!

The freelance site obviously did not help. There was no escrow, and that was their excuse to wash their hands of the whole affair. No escrow, no help - that's the brutal dictum of these freelance sites. They replied about the deduction of $30 in 3 words - Project was canceled. Yes, you guessed it right - after making me slog like an aboriginal slave, after killing my sleep and appetite for two days running, this Elliott Leee took all the articles and canceled the project.

I got no justice in all this, and the infrastructure of the Internet is such that I will never get any justice. People like Elliott Leee will rule. And we honest hard workers will always lose.

Long live the phishers and scammers! The world's online banks and freelance sites are there to help you do your thing.

PS: There is much, much more coming up on Elliott Leee as I am discovering more stuff from him. I have recently found out (without proof) that Elliott Leee is an alias - he has some other name. In fact, he has many other names.

If anyone of you wants to discuss Elliott Leee with me, and even take a look at our email convos and things like that, get in touch with me. I won't take you at your face value though.

There are other instances of us getting cheated on my blog. Feel free to see them

PS: Thank god for long posts

manoj behal said...

We are a leading freelancers on web, http://digibytes-freelancers.com

We were getafreelancer.com’s member as, a self empolyed freelancer for the last 2 years & experienced the thruth about them,if you observe their projects,bids & review closely, you will clearly find that-:

The site “getafreelancer,com”is a fake/cheater website & are duping service buyers & service providers with most “Advanced Techniques”, in short they put fake projects on their website by themselves only & then put bids on their created fake projects.

About, reviews & its counting, they themselves manuplate the records & write reviews & its counting on their own created fake service provider’s profiles, welcomeing new service buyers & service providers in their “web”, as their “prey” ,

They even would not mind to award couple of fake projects to any one new who entre in their “web” site & even PAY through their escrow to him / her, as their investment, to let their manipulation & their website get going!

We have cought them & collected documentary evidence which prove them to be a cheater’s website.

We recommend not to put any money, projects or bid on their site.

These kind of service providers websites are all cheaters & everyone have their own techniques to dupe, cheat & scam a service buyers & service providers.

jigs said...

now i know my suspicion is true about freelancer websites. are there any legal website for freelancers, the one wherein you really are paid for for your hardwork and not ending up being cheated? please advise...

thanks guys for sharing, i am very much enlightened. it's pays to be apprehensive...

jigs said...

thanks for sharing. it pays to be apprehensive.

John John said...

I'm sorry but I don't really understand how ghostwriting is considered a scam job. When you write copy for someone and you get paid for it, it is often determined in this day and age that anything that can be done with your article will be done with it before its final incarnation is actually posted on the web. I'm quite alright with spitting out tons of largely useless information for the right amount of money, and if you actually care about making money off of freelancing, it's ridiculous not to be.

Anonymous said...

I have been testing the waters at freelancer.com, and have found multiple examples that this site allows not only ILLEGAL activity (people posting for identification information = passport scans, etc.) but a plethora of other fraudulent endeavors, i.e. "click my google ads" and such. It's a totally scam-laden site, sorry to say.

RI Lawn Sprinklers said...

From a clients perspective. I have used a website called elance.com for a website design. The company that I decided to go with was one of the higher priced bids (Global Response Technologies) GRT, but I believe they have other names they operate under. Anyway it was hands down the absolute worst experience ever, they required payment in full before starting. Never again am I paying in full until the work is to my satifaction. Since then I havd used (GAF) Getafreelanceer.com to fix the website off of elance.com I found a excellent coder and I can not be happier. I also have current projects out to bid for articles and link building. I really believe that clients like myself just need to be careful and not pay until the project is complete, the escrow part of the payment is fair to both sides. Before I accept any articles or written pages they go through copyscape as a checks and balance system.

Regards,

Senor Bob

alchemee said...

Hi

I use getafreelancer.com from time to time. Both as a buyer and a seller. They are very professional

Alchemee ( Shashi)

Shadablogga said...

Wow.. I feel for you dude.. I was about to sign in but im lucky i found yours. Isnt there any law that brings these money craving people down?

Roger said...

Did freelancer.com steal your money too? Join fightfreelancer (at) Gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Try searching freelancer.com scam on google. It sure is a scam. I had bad experiences with the company.
PLEASE DON'T PUT YOUR MONEY ON FREELANCER, THEY WILL STEAL YOUR MONEY.