Some are more obvious than others.
As all new freelancers know, there is a LOT to learn about this line of work. I’ve found that I’ve spent more time in the beginning of my journey studying, researching and learning the ropes of the business as well as crafting and tweaking my presence online than actually writing.
One thing that I wasn’t anticipating was how high the potential of being scammed would be. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely aware of the possibility and assumed I would get a few sketchy offers over the course of my freelance career, but I never knew how I would feel or react when it finally happened for the first time.
I won’t go into specifics about the circumstances around the scam, but I received a random DM on one of the freelancing platforms I use. I thought it was strange to be approached like this, but again I’m new to the game and was almost excited that someone would want to work with me without me pitching first so I was interested to hear them out.
This person didn’t give any details about their proposal in the messages, instead sending a link to a Google Doc. Red flag? Probably. I assumed that he wanted to keep all of the information in one place and didn’t want to have to explain everything through DMs, plus I assumed that a Google Doc was safe to open, so I did (This is not always true! I decided to check on this after the ordeal and learned that OF COURSE Google Doc links could be dangerous to open if you don’t know or trust the sender. DO NOT DO THIS).
Needless to say, it was an incredibly obvious scam. I won’t post the document, but to summarize, this “client” wasn’t even looking for a writer. They WERE the writer and needed a U.S. Upwork account and computer as they do not live in the United States. During this explanation, the sender urgently insisted that I not create the Upwork account yet (first red flag in the document) unless I already had one, in which case I would kindly allow them to use it for their own work.
The pitch continued with the request of using my computer or “any laptop or computer laying around” because they needed a U.S. VPN. I also needed to download TeamViewer so that they could REMOTELY ACCESS MY COMPUTER. At this point and basically from the moment I opened the doc, I knew it was a total scam but was too invested and entertained to stop reading. But of course, there was something in it for me.
The person promised $200-$300 per week simply for letting them use my account and computer. I could earn passive income- basically money for nothing- while continuing my own work. The sender then summarized the simple instructions in a bulleted list and concluded by saying “it’s that easy.”
So that was my first scam attempt as a freelancer. I do regret passing up such a great opportunity for consistent income, but as I told the sender in my response through the now deleted chat, I wouldn’t have been a good fit.