Warning: Depicting the negative side of the buyer-seller relationship.
The last time I met a fraudulent client was just a few months ago when I thought I had hit jackpot, but it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. Until now, I was going by the saying that freelancing was a great way to earn a living at the very comfort of our homes, not worrying about traveling or having a boss who controls everything under his nose. But, at least, at a workplace, we have a steady and guaranteed income every month, which freelancing definitely lacks. I also believed that strong language skills, and a continuous communication with the client, helped win the trust of the client in a way which would keep him coming back with more work. One word – WRONG!
Freelancing is highly mistaken as the world’s easiest job – IT IS NOT!
That week, I met the worst kind of client ever! I learned a lot from this awesome teacher though (Sarcasm intended). Even though experienced, freelancers definitely tend to become the victims of scams, frauds, or even a joke!
Here is a list of 6 signs that the client is probably is a FRAUD:
The Client Invites to Work Outside the Current Platform
The most popular freelancer platforms are Freelancer, WorknHire. PeoplePerHour, just to name a few. It is always safe to keep the conversation within the loop on the freelance website you have taken the project on, as this information plays an important role in the conflict. Most clients who are honest, and planning to pay you for your hard work, do not mind paying a bit of commission to the third party which is helping them hire a talent online! The number one warning sign that the client could possibly be a fraud is when he or she asks you to take the conversation to an email ID, even if it does not seem necessary. Well, we are all guilty of having met at least one such client and the worse, trusting them!
The Client Does Not Provide a Phone Number or Any Contact Information
Despite asking you to come outside the platform on which he met you, this client refuses to provide any contact information. This is highly applicable for projects within the country, and abroad, ONLY if needed. With mediums like Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Hangouts, it has become much easier to solve a query or confusion regarding the project. While it is not necessary that the client needs to provide his contact number, it is highly essential during a confusion, because resolving issues over a phone is much faster and convenient. A phone number is like a security deposit – not necessarily – but at least in the mind!
This client, who changed the way I trust my clients, NEVER provided his contact number – easy escape!
Faulty, Funny, or Silly Email ID
Fraudulent clients avoid using their own email IDs. Instead, they create a dummy email ID for special purposes like this and fool the new freelancers into believing them. Here’s a useful tip:
Even if you agree to work with a client outside the current platform, which you should not, always check the email ID before you reply. Check for fictional character names like Shizuka, Doraemon, Tarzan, or Elsa, when you know that’s not their real name is. Confirm with them their name before you let them dictate what to do because you may be just an amateur seller of your services, but your buyer needs to know that you are a person making a living out of your talent.
The Client Offers to Pay More Than the Expected Fee
DO NOT get carried away when your client says, “I would be paying double if you help me finish this by tonight”. That is a trigger warning. The answer is simple – He is never going to pay that much even if he does promise you. Think – who would pay whatever he is earning through his own peers? It would always be lesser than the expectation or equal to it, but never higher! This is a sly trick that the fraudsters use to lure you into their snare, targetted at newbie freelancers. With no phone number and no proof, he can easily get away with it by getting his work done for FREE!
The Client Asks to Create/Write More Than One Sample
It is really important to remember that the clients who want to cheat you, will try to be really nice to you, and they may even ask you to send your account details to make it seem like a real business. What they are trying to do here is – get as much free work as possible – by winning your trust. DO NOT agree to send more than one or two samples, unless those were your previous projects. It’s a red flag! In fact, writing or creating a sample takes time and talent, and you should totally ask for a payment for sample works. Your time is precious and if he cannot secure your trust through an advance payment, you are better off, than stick with this project any longer.
There is one more way in which the client may say that the sample is paid but refuse to pay immediately. He might say that he would be paying you after meeting a deadline for a particular number of articles/projects for him, or after a few days.
The Client Does Not Talk About Payment But Tracks Your Work
The client I worked with that week, contacted me directly, and offered to pay me for writing a sample. I wrote the sample and sent it back. To ensure me that the payment will be done, he shared a document where I had to enter the project details every day. A really cooperative and professional way, isn’t it? Would you have doubted it? Neither did I! First time, when I asked about the payment schedule, he said: “The payment will be released on every 1st and 20th of each month.” I was overjoyed. That’s like earning twice a month! I had started working on the 15th so he said, “Since it’s mid of the month, you should be able to get your pay by 30th”. RED FLAG! But, I was new. I did not know much about dealing with clients back then. I thought he was telling the truth. HE WAS NOT!
What did I conclude then? I decided not be disappointed by one client who thought I was a vulnerable amateur freelancer. Maybe he was right because fraudulent clients are everywhere, but making a choice whether to fall prey to these people is on us. Freelancing is an art of selling talent and making the best out of it. If you have been through experiences like these, you will master the art one day. I would highly suggest to be smart and stay professional – after all, if you have chosen to be a freelancer, it’s your way of winning your bread! You have a talent, and you want to make a career in what you love. You deserve your right to question any wrongdoing.
If you have a similar story, comment below and share with the other freelancers so that they could thank you for helping them out!