11 Common Fraud Schemes Freelancers Need to Know About

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Sep 28th, 2023

scammer holding keyboard keys

As freelancing gains popularity, more people are turning to it to make an income.

As a result, there is an increase in both the number of scams and the amount of money they cost freelancers. In this article, we will look at some schemes that freelancers need to be aware of and ways to avoid them. There are so many freelancer scams that lead to irreversible financial damage. However, there’s also fraud that can hurt remote workers not only financially but also personally. I’m talking about data hacking. People can avoid such fraud by using a VPN, a responsible password protection policy, and other tips described below.

We’ll answer the following questions:

  • How does a freelancer detect fraud?
  • What every freelancer should know about staying safe online?
  • What are the most common freelancer scams you should look out for?

So, if you are a freelancer and want to know about fraud schemes on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, then please keep reading this article.

man holding fraud sign

11 Most Common Freelancer Scams You Should Avoid:

1. Getting Paid Outside the Platform

One of the most known scams remote workers face is that the client wants to pay for services offsite via PayPal or some other way. They get their work first and then vanish without a trace. Often, freelancers complain about this, and that’s why platforms like Fiverr and Upwork have created strong policies regarding payments. It is strictly prohibited to take work outside the platform; otherwise, you may get banned forever. Next time, if any new client wants to pay you outside the platform, then let the alarm ring in your head.

2. Offering High Pay for An Easy Job

Freelancers face many types of freelance platform account scams, but the most common one is the high-paying easy job. At a glance, these jobs sound like a good deal. You get paid a premium rate to do something easy (like data entry). If you fall for one of these scams, it could end up costing you more in the long run. So, do your research before making any commitments and if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

suspicious email sender

3. Receiving Emails With Infected Links

Malicious individuals will send you cleverly designed messages and emails with links to infected websites to steal your data and personal information. As a freelancer, you should be wary of clicking on suspicious links. You should always check the sender’s email address before clicking on an email because many of these scams are coming from people who create brand-new accounts with perfectly believable names. However, the most promising solution is to use a VPN. Some may ask the question, “What is a VPN?” A Virtual Private Network is a tool or service that can encrypt your data while transferring details over the internet. VPN also hides personal information like location, IP address, etc., so no one can trace you online. Searching and choosing a good VPN can be a time-consuming activity, and that’s why I’ve done some research in that area. I recommend people use VeePN, the best VPN for people doing online work, shopping, or simple browsing. If you’re not sure, check out VeePN’s free trial and see how it works without spending any money upfront.

4. Having To Pay To Get A Job

Another fraud that remote workers often face is when an individual presents himself as part of a big, recognizable company. They then ask clueless freelancers to pay a specific amount of money to get a job. They claim that they want money as security and to ensure that you are interested in the job. Avoid such scams and report them as soon as possible.

scammer using cellphone

5. Off-Platform Communication

Prospective clients often contact freelancers with requests for communication outside the freelance platform. What’s most interesting about this is that freelancer platforms like Upwork and Fiverr have strict policies about this sort of interaction. When a prospective client sends a message to a freelancer on one of these platforms requesting additional communication, the freelancer is advised to report them rather than take the risk of engaging in off-platform contact. However, this is not always the case. Some clients prefer other means of communication, but the payments are still done through the original platform. You must be able to recognize the situation for what it is before you take action.

6. Having To Complete Test Projects

It can be a frustrating experience when people find out too late that a client has only been using them for “testing” purposes. These clients will contact them, and ask them to do a small project, and if it goes well, they will offer more interesting projects that never come. Freelancers need to understand the importance of not taking these jobs and asking for money upfront.

7. Being Asked For Personal Information

Another type of scam is when a client asks for confidential account information in the guise of “verification.” In this case, remote workers should always insist on a Zoom call or video conference to verify the client’s identity before giving out any personal information.

8. Creating And Using A Shared Account

A proposal to create a shared freelancing account is another tactic scammers use to trap unknowing freelancers. They usually target people with low earnings and ask them to share the account access to increase sales and make more money. They say that in the end, they will split up the money with you. Freelancing platforms recommend never to share personal information, and you should follow this recommendation.

bitcoin in pocket

9. Getting Paid With Suspicious Payment Methods

Another one of the growing scams is where the client is willing to pay money via payment methods that are not traceable, like Bitcoin. Getting paid in cryptocurrency or NFTs (non-fungible tokens) may be viable soon. But for now, I would recommend sticking to good old dollars or any other formally recognized currency that’s approved by your freelancing platform.

10. Becoming A Ghostwriter for Authority Sites

It is another common fraud where freelance writers are targeted. The individual messages you as a representative of any authority site like Forbes and asks writers to do ghostwriting for a log budget. Such posts are often seen on platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer, and people should report them.

11. Dealing With Fake Job Postings

Finally, a scam that freelancers often face consists of fake job posts by scammers where they add a link to Google forms, etc., and ask for personal information. You should always check the hiring rate, the amount that the client has spent, reviews, etc., before applying to such jobs and giving away your personal information.


So, these are some of the most common fraud schemes that remote workers often face on remote work marketplaces like Upwork. It’s always best to check every detail before committing to a freelance project. If you’re still confused, reach out to a representative of one of the freelance platforms you are working on, and ask for help. Next up, you may want to check the top cybersecurity tips for remote workers.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building three small companies, an educator, digital marketer, freelance writer, editor, and content manager with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for writers, digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here, and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.