Freelance job scams: How to detect fake clients?

freelance job sams

Every new freelancer wants to get a good freelance job to get a better start in their freelance career. But…all that glitters is not gold.  Sometimes, the best-looking freelance job is not a good choice. It can be a scam and can leave the freelancer in the dust. When new freelancers enter the freelance industry, they must be aware of scams to be successful in their freelance careers. They must have a careful look and thought while choosing a freelance job. Because scammers have kept their eyes to prey on freelancers. Upwork,, and Fiverr are popular freelance platforms but they are not free of these online scams. They have policies to protect their freelancers. But sometimes clever scammers come from the cracks. These online scams not only make a loss of money and bids to new freelancers but also results in down motivation in them. Mostly, new freelancers become victims of these scams due to a lack of awareness about these scams. Scammers lure them by posting attractive freelance jobs with easy conditions and most of them fall into their trap. So, freelancers must have knowledge and awareness of these scams to be capable of identifying the difference between a legitimate freelance job and a scammed freelance job.

 In this article, different forms of online scams are discussed which are very common in the freelance industry. So, if you are a freelancer or want to start your freelance career, you must have awareness of these possible scams, while applying for a freelance job.

Not getting paid from the fake client.

fake client

Sometimes a freelancer completes the task and it is accepted but the fake client disappears or its account vanishes without making payment. This situation can be avoided by taking care of two important things at the time of bidding. 

  1. Read the job description. If it is not properly described then don’t waste your bid on it. Usually, a scammed job is not properly described and a freelancer has to communicate with the client for its details. When the freelancer communicates, the fake client tricks him down. So, the freelancer must identify the red flag and shouldn’t apply for such a job.
  2. Always check if the client’s payment method is verified or not. If it is not verified, don’t bid on it.

Sometimes the job description is good but the payment method is not verified. If you are at an Upwork platform, you can think about applying but if you are on, don’t apply. Probably he is a fake client.


Investment to get a project.


Sometimes a freelancer bids on a job and he receives the client’s response like deposit joining fee/ security deposit / refundable amount to get access to the project. Sometimes the client demands a freelancer to deposit some amount and he will get good reviews. Mostly, new freelancers often fall into their trap as they need good reviews for proceeding with their freelance careers. Sometimes a freelancer is asked to buy some software/ package/ workstation to complete the task. What should be done….? The rule is simple: “You are there to earn, not to invest”. So, decline such offers. 

When a freelancer accepts such an offer, the fake client disappears after getting the amount. So, whenever you get such an offer, decline it, it is a scam. In a legit freelance job, when there is any need for a special package to work on a project, the client must provide it on your terms. If someone asks a freelancer to buy it, meaning it is their brand or product, and they want to sell their product. 

So, new freelancers must be careful.


Off Platform communication.

freelance platform

Sometimes the client wants to make deals or payments outside the freelance platform. Don’t agree with this, it is a scam. Because freelance platforms have certain rules and policies that protect their freelancer, if he falls in any trap or client won’t pay. They monitor the conversation between clients and freelancers. If their anti-scam team detects any suspicious message, they alert the freelancer and take action on time. If a freelancer goes outside the platform he couldn’t ask for help and he could also be banned as it is against their policies. So, don’t leave the platforms. Communicate with your client through your platform account only. Scammers are skilled in convincing their target to go off the platform and communicate by using phone calls, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, or something else. Remember, …if you go off the platform, it’s no longer the platform’s issue that what has happened to you.


Offsite Application:

online scams

In some cases, the client responds to the cover letter and asks the freelancer to apply through some other websites. It is a scam. If the freelancer visits that website, it asks to log in through a Google account/ Facebook / LinkedIn or asks for the password of a freelance platform.  It is a scam. No one should share their platform account credentials with anyone.


Receiving a suspicious file:

In this freelance scam, the client sends a zipped file to the freelancer by saying that it contains all details of the project. If you get such a file, don’t open it, unless it is any source code, PSD file, or any working file which should be described in the job description. If it is not described, don’t open the zipped file. It can be a virus and ruin your system. 



The freelance industry is not safe from online scams. Mostly, New freelancers fall into the trap of scammers because of a lack of experience. Then…How to be safe from these job scams? You can be safe by a little investigative and careful look while bidding and doing an agreement with the client. 

  • You should not only check the job description but also check the client’s payment verification and reviews about their work history. In case of any incomplete information and negative reviews don’t accept the freelance job. 
  • Never accept any freelance job in which you have to pay any sort of fee or buy any package. It will make you lose.
  • Never agree to work or get paid outside the platform. It will leave you with no evidence when you are scammed by a fake client. Remember freelance platforms have policies that protect you. 
  • If the client asks you to apply through any other website and that website asks to log in through your accounts or password, don’t accept the job. It will hack your account.
  • Don’t open the zipped file sent from the client if there is no need according to the job description. It can be a virus and it will ruin your system.

So… Be safe and happy bidding. Good luck.

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