5 Freelance Writing Jobs Online Scams To Avoid

Working freelance is an excellent way to earn money and work flexible hours. But freelancers have to be aware of the many scams that abound to take advantage of the nature of their work. In this article we will expose five scams – you will learn how they work, how to avoid them, and how to report the criminals.

Let’s take a look at five ways to avoid fraud. Meanwhile, beware of Fiverr scams and learn how to recognize a freelance scammer.

1. Partial Payment Up-Front Scam

In the ‘Partial Payment Up-Front’ scam, the client will request a job to be done with a set budget. The client will offer the freelancer 30% up-front payment for the project and then the rest upon completion via a direct transfer to the freelancer’s bank account.

Of course, in essence, the freelancer has just handed the “client” everything they need to clean out their bank account.

If you are working through one of the many job sites that match freelancers and clients, make sure the client is willing to pay you through the job site’s escrow system. If they are not prepared to do so, this is a big red flag that they are not legitimate.

If you are truly working freelance without the protection of escrowed payment, make sure they pay you through a secure payment site, such as PayPal. Doing so will keep your confidential banking information out of their hands, and your money in your account where it belongs.

2. Unique Work Sample Scam

You read a job advertisement offering a large payday for the writing of several hundred unique 500-word articles, and you decide to apply.

One of the application requirements is sending a custom sample of your work, for which, the client advises, you will not be paid. You write the article, submit it, and are rejected.

Congratulations. You’ve supplied the “client” with a free, original article – and so have the hundreds of other un-hired applicants.


Freelancing rule of thumb: always send samples from your portfolio. Never submit complete, unique articles to a prospective client without some payment guarantee. A legitimate client will often offer something (even a low dollar amount) for a complete, unique sample.

Also, be sure to report the client to the job site where you found the posting. They will often have their account and hiring privileges suspended by the owners of the job site.

Finally, be leery of any advertisement promising an outrageously high payday for your work. Learn the parameters of payment for the type of work required; if the posting isn’t within those parameters, chances are it’s a scam.

3. Small Batch of Articles Scam

Many freelancers are aware of the advertisements on job sites promising an ongoing position once certain parameters have been met. One of the most popular scams is the ‘Small Batch of Articles’ scam.

The client promises steady work and excellent pay for site content, but first, the freelancer must write a certain number – usually between 10 and 20 – unique articles, so the client can “verify the quality and speed of work produced”.

The work will be paid for by the client – of course for a pittance, usually around $10. Of course, the previous claim of ongoing, well-paid work never materializes.

There is never a reason you should accept a pittance for your hard work. Legitimate clients won’t ask for a number of articles for a small sum as an “audition”. If they are truly serious about there being a higher paying job in the offing and they WANT to “try out” a number of writers, they will ask for one or two articles at a fair rate per article.


4. Job Details on Another Website Scam

The ad sounds promising, boasting a fair per-article rate and a nice budget. You decide to submit a proposal, and almost immediately receive a message from the client, asking you to sign up for membership – free of course – to another site where there is a full posting of the job. You will be asked to upload a photo and your CV or resume, once on the site.

Sadly, all you have accomplished is signing up for another job site and most likely getting spammed by them incessantly.

There is no job; this is a trick that unethical sites will use to get contractors working on other sites to sign up for their site. The person soliciting the referrals is another freelancer who is probably being paid pennies per referral.

When bidding on any project, keep in mind that you should never be asked to upload your resume and photo to another site. That is the first red flag. Secondly, any legitimate client is not going to try to steer you away from the job site on which they found you.

If this does happen, be sure to report this to the job site for which you are working; they will most likely suspend the client from further activity on the site.

5. Revenue Sharing Scam

Working for small startup websites is not always a bad idea. However, they lack funds to pay for quality contract work. Often they will run ads offering a share of the revenue for writing what is typically scraped content, or for working on simple site design. While this seems like a good deal for easy work, it will often cost you in wasted time and effort.

The client will only pay pennies initially in revenue sharing. Once the site has gained popularity and the money is coming in steadily, and in increasingly large amounts, the client will often terminate the contract, leaving the contractor with very little for their efforts.


While there are some legitimate revenue sharing opportunities, be leery of writing or designing for startups. Also avoid sites that have little to no PR, as they will not gain popularity quickly enough for you to make any real money for your work.

If you choose this agreement, ask for a fixed rate for the first few months with the option to switch to a revenue share once the site has increased traffic. A legitimate site that is seeking quality content will usually be agreeable to this situation. If the site owners balk at this suggestion, this is not the site for which you want to be working. Your time would be better spent seeking out legitimate opportunities.


How To Report The Freelance Writing Jobs Scams:

Make your family and friends aware of this scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:

Report To The FTC Here


How To Protect Yourself More:

If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.

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selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSelma is a fraud prevention specialist renowned for her expertise in private eye investigations and a remarkable partnership with law enforcement agencies. Beyond her investigative triumphs, her public speaking engagements and written works have empowered countless individuals to protect themselves and stay ahead of deceptive schemes. Selma's legacy shines as a tenacious agent of change, unyielding in her commitment to battling fraud and ensuring a safer world for all.

11 thoughts on “5 Freelance Writing Jobs Online Scams To Avoid”

  1. Never hire any freelancer per milestones or hourly. Its a trap, freelancer wont stop asking you money and never complete his job. If you take a look at Upwork it is exactly what they promote. Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, Peopleperhour.com are scam websites. Especially if freelancer is from India ,Pakistan, Nepal, Africa

  2. This is a scam-alert to all freelance translators

    The name from the scam company is Timelead International, based out of Italy, the name of the owner / person in charge is Zak Khan, email zak.khan@yandex.com or timeleadinternational@gmail.com This company hires freelancers to translate religious articles and text from a church based out of Asia. They might contract other services too.

    After a short period of time they come up with lame excuses and the final result is that they don’t pay you anymore. This company operates under a false identity and the location they state, even to PayPal and to an Australian freelancer company, is Turin Italy. According to the Italian business registry, this company is unknown to them.

    If you pay attention to their IP address, it doesn’t state Italy, it states Brussels, Belgium and than several private servers. Another email is linked to a service provider in Russia. We have no idea why a legal working company would go through all this trouble to hide it’s actual location and identity. We have no clue if it’s money laundering or not, but something really stinks.

    I have no idea how it was possible that they register with PayPal and the Freelancer Company in Australia, since they all do extensive background checks.

    I want to state here clearly that according to the Church of Almighty God, this person is not a member of their church or in any way affiliated with their church.

    The person in charge for this scam refers to be a member of the church that wants these articles translated (in our case it’s German). It is just irony that this action is totally against the context from the articles they want to have translated. I know that we are not the only ones affected by this scam, but I hope that we can warn others from these scumbags.

    I assume that PayPal and the Australian freelancer company will act in this case, but it is also very likely that their activities will come up again under a different name – so be aware and do your background check first.

  3. Be careful guys, I have been fooled by the advertisement of requirement of freelancers to work on facebook by this becomefreelancer.net and sent Rs 4400/- to them to register and they have merely sent me a book and couple of CDs of ‘How to be a Rockstar freelancer’ which is of no use and not even worth Rs 50. While advertising they said that they want people to work online for facebook, afterword also they give one number +14242395022 and email through support@becomeafreelancer.net to show they are very much concerned about you by calling you and assuring you, but be careful it is nothing else but fraud. They are not giving you any freelancing job but selling their rubbish book for Rs 4500 which is worth nothing. Be careful, be alert.

  4. i got scam by a client smari grondal and james ward their business name http://gostartliving.biz/ and 2-sl.com first few weeks they was able to pay me weekly but always delayed then after the 5th weeks they delayed my payment for almost 2 weeks and always promise that they will send the payment,, as of now they are making several reasons about my tasks that they will not pay me because there is still some issue,, just an fyi im not in a project basis type of employment they ask me to work in a regular basis 40 hours a week 8 hours a day

    so for those web developer out there watch out for this 2 clients smari grondal and james ward

  5. I got scammed out of 8 hours of writing work by someone with the user name janicespark100. It was through Elance and they won’t pay either even though I submitted proof of the work, the original date and time stamp of each article as well as all the skype messages between us throughout the entire 8 hours. VERY FRUSRATING. it turns out that this person is a scammer. Someone on another site located their IP address and it was in Kenya. I asked Elance to block that I p address to avoid someone else getting scammed but they refuse. Makes you wonder about Elance doesn’t it?

  6. This is my story of how I lost my 10K USD by this individual Muhammad Shehzad who runs the company of two shady individuals in Lahore, Pakistan.

    ‘’20th Floor Technologies’’ also known as ‘’Futuristicavenue’’ is a total scam, his details are as follow:
    Name: Mohammad Shehzad
    DOB: 25 Jan 1982 (i don’t know if it’s real of a fraudulent)
    Phone number is +92 4235201773 & +923018485111
    Website http://www.20thfloor.com (site doesn’t work)
    Skype id: futuristicavenue

    I was referred to this individual by someone called Babar Rana that i came across on http://www.Freelancer.com through bidding on my previous project.
    Once I was introduced to Muhammad Shehzad from ‘’20th Floor Technologies’’ he sounded highly professional and done everything you could possibly think of to ensure that he could gain my trust. He talked me through various aspects of the challenges regarding the project and worked through with me just to show me he was a genuine person. He built up the functionality document without even receiving the first payment from me which was great and promising.

    He demanded 18,000 USD for the project and when i refused to pay that amount he dropped the price to a fixed 10,000 USD (i know what you’re thinking) he told me his code quality would be superior and clean. His coders are the world’s best etc. He showed me his previous work and said once the work is done you will see a great quality product. We agreed on website + android + ios native Apps as a total scope of work.

    Once he figured out that i was totally taken by his professionalism then he worked his religious magic on me by saying things like he would never let me down ‘’INSHALLAH’’ ”MASHALLAH” all molvi sufi crap etc. He also told me that he never double crossed anyone in his entire life but he was cheated by clients from the UK and US who one got access to their sites they changed passwords immediately and blocked without paying him a dime and he believes in working hard and straight with no shady or fraudulent practices whatsoever.
    We discussed that his team force (two full time developers and one designer) will ONLY work on my project throughout the entire process which is why i will have to give him 2000 USD a month directly into his bank account through western but me being straight & honest I agreed and he started his work by making excel sheets of the work required.
    Being in Ireland I had my doubts because Pakistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world where there is no LAW in place and the one with money is the one who everyone listens to whether they are right or wrong that’s a different matter.

    I didnt listen to (my cousins, they kept telling me to be careful as this looks bizzar) because i kept thinking how can he do this to me he is such a nice person he is doing all the work as promise etc etc.
    To cut the long story short. He promised to have the site done by 20th of January 2014. I paid him 2k every month since September 2013 as promised and he kept showing me designing work that he copied from another site (he or his designer didnt have any creativity of their own) which made me angry and dis-satisfied. He delayed and promised to have it done by the end of February.

    He promised to change the design and have the website and two APPS android + IOS7 done by 28th of Feb left with little or no choice i waited through out the procedure only to find out i have been done over by Muhammad Shehzad from ‘’20th Floor Technologies’’

    Now after the deadline its excused every day my cousin went over to meet him he tried his best to talk him over by showing him the work thats done which is 30% of the entire 100% work promised by him. Today i am writing this after loosing 10K over this guy with NOT a single line of code to my name.
    ‘’20th Floor Technologies’’ Mr Muhammad Shehzad has conned me and done a runner like a RAT and he showed me several valuable yet very very expensive lessons for life. NEVER EVER trust a developer outside these freelance sites when you are not in the same country as your developer the sites like freelancer, guru, odesk, elance etc etc are designed for anti fraud purposes.

    This is one reason you do not see this guy on those sites because he is a total con and fraud. He doesnt take my calls doesnt answer my emails skype messages basically he is hiding in his tiny hole to avoid me.
    If you need more information on the story or you have been biten by this RAT Muhammad Shehzad or another RAT developer please comment and raise awareness so more and more innocent people can be saved from their sting. These people are spineless they would rob your money and leave you stranded so be aware of these individuals.

    If you are gonna work with him make sure ONLY to give him money once you see the work done and tested because these people are professional cons they know how to make you feel comfortable enough to trust them.

    Further more be aware of the work that you produce as these people like Muhammad Shehzad show your confidential information, ideas and word to everybody else including your competitors i am saying this because he discussed other peoples insight business with me and showed me their work he was doing for them and asked me for suggestions to get the contract etc. I was so stupid to think he wouldn’t do anything like that to me but i was proven wrong in the end.

  7. I am writing about very bad experience by freelancer.com

    It is very bad experienced and unpredictable how business conduct by freelancer.com

    Why and what kind of commission you charged to all service providers if you can not provide proper platform where buyer and provider safety .

    Have a look for buyer profile “guymichauffour”

    We worked for guymichauffour in some of his projects.

    We done work 110% and get approval from client before he release fund

    I know that freelancer.com is very strick in money matters , You always deduct your commission all time , whether buyer pay or not .

    How did you reversal all transactions made by buyer guymichauffour .

    We know that freelancer.com guarantee their users for satisfactory business and pay only if they get satisfactory services from service providers.

    I don’t know what kind of issues you face with buyer guymichauffour , we only concern for our money

    We are asking for money for work done for particular client ,

    You should deal with buyer guymichauffour at your own way and your own risk.

    We don’t care of anything else , we just need money to be credited in our account ,

    It is not beg or help from you or buyer guymichauffour , We received money for our hard work done by developers.

    You can call me on +91-8460337987 or email to info@mxicoders.com

    We need issue be resolved in minimum time otherwise we will going for legal action against freelancer.com

    Please forward this email to all following people and do ask them to contact us immediately

    – Matt Barrie
    Darren Williams
    Simon Clausen
    Neil Katz
    David Harrison
    Willix Halim
    Greg Robinson
    Brone Roze
    Nikki Parker
    We are requesting for money for work done , not free money

    Looking forward for your affirmative response shortly
    Many ThankX


  8. Has anyone been approached by Mr. D. Maswanganye of Sa Recruiters and how legitimate has that been, my worry is they need payment of R500.00 registration

  9. I was scammed last week. I had to pay a deposit to show my commitment to the job (US100). It is about a database with 28 fields to infill from a PDF file. They send you the files and looks very serious… Mediline is the name of the software they pretend you to use. They offer initial training… the scam comes from india and I was using freelancer.com

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