Online scammers have been targeting small business owners by posing as freelance graphic designers or software developers, collecting a down payment and then pocketing the money, according to the Better Business Bureau in Calgary.
The fake freelancers put ads on platforms such as Upwork and lure their victims using the photos and resumes of real professionals but offering lower rates.
“You decide to hire them and pay a deposit upfront,” reads the warning from the BBB.
“Your new contractor seems to get to work. But weeks pass, and the project still isn’t finished. In fact, your freelancer stops responding to messages.”
The bureau says there are several ways to avoid getting taken in such a scam:
- Watch out for “too good to be true” rates. Do some research and know the standard hourly rate for the position you want to hire.
- Do a video interview before hiring.
- Find the freelancer on several platforms, such as LinkedIn or other social media.
- Report fake accounts: To report a suspicious account on Upwork, click the “Flag as inappropriate” button.
The BBB also suggests freelancers take steps to make sure they are not being impersonated online by scammers who have taken their information and pictures from sites such as LinkedIn.