E-Work scams

Over the past few weeks , I’ve dipped my toes into the freelance coding from home world. Now I am a very novice coder, but with my husband’s guidance I can make anything. I read that UpWork is a great place to get started when it comes to freelance coding. I made a sweet profile and attached my freeCodeCamp projects. At first I applied to everything. They say the first thousand is the hardest to make. UpWork takes 20% so really it’s the first 1,200! Many jobs people post there are for less than 50 dollars. I quickly realized that to make any money I’d have to limit my searches to over 100$.

Recently I’ve been applying to web developer jobs that seem pretty legitimate; not throwing any flags at first glance. Upon digging a little deeper certain aspects of the advertisements have caught my attention. Yes, I applied to a couple of these scams. Looking at the ads here are a few things that caught my eye:

Google Hangout with alleged company

That was quick

Grammar and spell check errors.

I understand that UpWork is an international platform and having worked in South Korea I have a soft spot for easy mistakes. I try my hardest to be compassionate when I see this UpWork disclaimer: This job was posted from a mobile device, so please pardon any typos or any missing details. Repeated errors throughout the exchange is something that throws a red flag.

The payments are not verified.

Like yourself there are many new companies on UpWork but if they haven’t taken the time to verify the money they’ll be spending; they probably don’t have any. I understand that people are busy but I’ve verified my account- it’s very simple. Isn’t not that they’re busy it’s that they want to catch as many people in their net before Upwork experts catch on what they’re doing.

Work is vague and all encompassing.

A good company will provide a mock-up of what they want the website to look like or at least have some idea about the website. Think about it- they need to use it after you’re gone, they should be a little familiar with what they want, why they want it and how to use it on a small scale. Most have a good idea of what software and coding language they want you to use. If it’s a ‘world is your oyster’ situation it’s probably too good to be true.

Too much stuff

Why do I need Raspberry Pi to make a website?

They have several positions they are hiring for.

Wow, it’s like a job fair in one place. They need an entire company. This is not a good sign. It means they are widening their nets to get as many workers caught in the net as possible. Sure, some companies are startups and they are looking for long term in every position possible but they could have spent a little more time to present as quality. If they present as crappy, given little direction, not really knowing what they are doing… they probably have skills in another area; scams.

Maybe you think ‘oh, that’s okay, I’ll apply and see where that takes me’.Congratulations you’ve made it to the interview! Really!?! (For me that’s another flag.) Then a few more things start to get the red flags waving:

A disproportionate number of interviews like all or most of them.

In the tech world we are often told that it’s a numbers game. We then apply that to our experience in other fields where there are tons of people applying for jobs- think telecommunications. So we apply to all the jobs and take the first interview and accept the first job- pushed to be at risk and fighting in a tank of piranhas. There is always time to take a breath and access the situation. I received an offer from Mangalam Pharmaceuticals. 

They want to chat off the UpWork platform.

This is where the UpWork platform throws their red flag. They have all the tools you need to talk and work (basically a home office). UpWork also has great community forums where you can get information on best practises. Every two weeks or so they also host a new to UpWork webinar that is very informative.

The interviewer is available right now.

There might be a little wait but nothing compared to the five hours Mrs.Woods had to wait for me.

There is no real person.

But did she really wait. Not really because she was a bot. Her answers were predetermined.

Crumpled check package

Last of the tape, I guess.

They hire on the spot.

Wait, I never talked with a real person. I never saw a human. The entire interview was conducted via instant message. There was a break in conversation when the bot ‘sent’ my conversation to a human to review. I thought okay then a face to face will occur and this won’t all be for nothing. Nope. I was hired on the spot with a deadline for acceptance.

Now comes the scam:

They are sending you money to set up a home office.

The kicker is they are sending you big money; this check money for a laptop as well as software that as a freelancer I should already have (like something for accounting).

Check for 4,620 big ones!

Wow, I didn’t do anything!

They insist on mobile deposit.

This way the funds will be available to you immediately. The bank gives you access to this money before they have verified the account on the other end. It can take up to two weeks before they have tested the other bank account. The names on the check and the letter are spelled differently; Michael Nicolas and Micheal Nicholas

Funds Management letter

The names are different from the letter and the check.

They insist on buying from their preferred company.

Which is actually a fake website that deposits your money into their account.

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Exotic

I am a Zebra

long blonde hair flows from my head like a candy river

touch it, I dare you

blue blue eyes gaze out, smiling to themselves about nothing

How did I become so beautiful, so pawed at?

What are you looking at cute, nice lindsy teacher?

Are you dreaming of your wylliam teacher?

long blonde hair flows from her head like a candy river

lindsy teacher, when you go to the beach everyone is in love

you lounge under an umbrella and watch tv

lindsy teacher you and wylliam teacher have hearts in your eyes

smile lindsy teacher, eat this choco lindsy teacher,

long blonde hair flows from your head like a candy river

Friends and surprises

The winter season has been full of new friendships and surprises. Wyll and I went snowboarding with some foreigners and not only did we gain new friendships we also took on bunny sitting. Tomorrow will bring about the end of our bunny having adventure. The bunny has acclimated to a very different life style. He eats raw/ fresh vegetables by the kilo and a few fruits. He has his own room where he generally runs around like a maniac. He now has a name “Rodeo”, when he runs through the apartment he sometimes kicks out his feet like a buckin’ bronco. He will probably have a hard time getting use to small quarters again, especially after having a whole room!

Last night we had a game night, hopefully the first of many. We played Ascension and Apples to Apples. Both games were well fought and closely won. There was also an expressed interest in play testing Wyll’s game. Let me back up a little. The night before Angus, he’s Canadian,  returned from his month long vacation, bearing gifts of maple syrup and deodorant. I am going to try to make maple people- apparently they don’t have them in Canada.We went out for dinner with Angus and James Murray. James is fascinating and awesome! He is a self-published author. He has a novel and collection of poetry. He has done conventions and promoted his book on the east coast. He is working on an epic looking graphic novel. James has qualities that remind me of family members, Delmar specifically. For the game night James gifted us with a copy of his novel and I am loving it!

On another surprising level one of the foreigners is leaving Gochang. She was the first we met. She chased us down at the Moyang festival. She introduced us to many other foreigners. After helping her by taking her HAMSTERS, she surprised me by “loaning” me her juicer. With the understanding that if she comes back I’ll hand it over willingly. Well after all the fun I had today, that might prove to be very difficult!

I was reading online about all the crazy things it can do- whole pomegranates, whole pineapple! So, I went out and bought everything I could find. I forgot a few things like ginger and there wasn’t celery. I made a juice: dino kale, red kale, beet, pineapple, carrot, apple. It was amazing, so I had to try my hand at tomato soup! The soup was crazy! I juiced half a cabbage, a carrot, green onion, garlic, a kilo of tomatoes and half a bell pepper. I sauteed some basil, salt and pepper. I tried the juice before cooking it and it was spicy! Garlic really gave it a kick. So simmered the juice and seasoning together until it looked like soup, 20 minutes or so.  

This could be life changing!

Seoul part 2

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Maybe we would have gotten there faster with wonkwang power!

So, the second day was spent worrying about the subway. We walked to the hub of Itaewon and looked for Vatos, a hot Mexican restaurant with wild margaritas. Down a skinny road, counting the shops and mini roads to find the right place to make a right turn. Did I say right? I meant left… Luckily the right turn was a quick dead end. We turned around dodging motor cars, mini trucks and motorcycles. Sadly what we found was closed. The door was open but on one was home. We agreed to have hot dogs.

(I think this was the moment when we decided that the trip was a wasted one. I didn’t put in the ARC request for a new ID. And our first day felt like a waste of time and now there were no amazing restaurants open in Seoul. We had started the day by walking a mile or more in the wrong direction. Dinner the night before was a bust- we looked for Greek, we got really excited about Greek- we ended up eating at a chain that served us a mediocre fried shrimp and chicken platter  and FROZEN seared tuna.)

We moped around the back alley looking for something. Really we were heading out to the street to surrender ourselves to Outback Steakhouse- however this was very much like the establishment we ate at the night before. We saw a sandwich board it read “The Alley: Gallery, Restaurant , Cafe”. Okay we glanced at the menu- has to be better than frozen fish.

It was phenomenal!

We had wine (from Chile!), a creative Caesar salad (with black olives and balsamic), incredible lasagna (mucho ricotta cheese!). We had an excellent time. Wyll and I talked about people and home. We laughed at the future and basked in happiness. It was an excellent way to let go and breathe.

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Not the most flattering picture but it was tasty!

After we were fed and properly watered, we headed over to find What the Book?, the only all English bookstore in Korea. We spent a good block of time there and found some really wonderful reads. Yes, we got a Korean language book! And cookbook, along with two history books (France and Language- both anticipated and showing to be good reads) and a Korea Rough Guides. Cashing out we took our books over to Starbucks where I got my first caramel macchiato in what felt like years. I studied up on Korea. I read my new language book and actually perused the cookbook. It had been covered in plastic at the store. I looked at Korean foods I would want to eat! Oh man, Grace was in trouble. I was going to be speaking her language and eaten her food in no time! I think I deserve another caramel macchiato, thank you very much!

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Wyll after a long day at the Suncity Hostel

That idea (another coffee) was quickly voted down… We headed back to the hotel to drop off the heavy stuff and out to Dongdaemun, a shopping mega district. What were we thinking? It was fine. We took the subway like pros and didn’t get lost. Of course, we were very careful and used our smartphone app. Our first challenge was finding our way out of the subway. My biggest fear was that we would end up in the homeless section of the sewer system. While I don’t know if these are real, I have seen them on many shows from Law and Order to Bones. I pretty sure even Batman has sewer people. I think it was to our disadvantage that we were shopping at night. I might not have been scared with the sun on the surface.

During the trip I never successfully shopped underground.  Someday, soon I’m thinking, I will. We got very turned around and walked the place several times. We found an information booth with English speakers. While probably not uncommon it was a very friendly and welcome sight. We got directions to an ATM from our branch and were told that a jimjilbang (sauna and hot tub) was in the third level of the basement of the same building. Leaving the booth we crossed the street in the wrong direction and had to immediately turn around.

Let it be known that separately, Wyll and I are great with directions.

While the ATM charged us a 1,000 won fee, the building had a jimjilbang in the basement and Wyll was delighted. He gave me a large sum of money and told me to spend it. I left him with my coat, gloves and other bulky belongings. Two floors of women’s clothing, one floor of handbags and headbands, one floor for men. I took the elevator to the top (where the movie theater is) and noticed that many of the floors were closed or under repair. Awkwardly for me, the women’s sections were like Forever 21. Yes, it is a store that I hold near and dear but sadly it is for teenagers. Korean teenagers are typically much smaller than their ten years older American counterparts. Korean fashion is something that I love, so I had no problem with looking at everything many times. Pearls and rhinestones cover sweaters, dress collars, handbags. Clothes are fuzzy, silky, gaudy.  Leggings are currently the only kind of pants! Giant sweaters are worn as dresses. Korean fashion is is also covered to the neck and long sleeves while skirts barely cover your butt.  I was tempted to buy a free size (one size fits all) dress but the last one didn’t fit so I stood my ground.

There was also a fantastic gate. Dongdaemun means East Gate, it is very lovely and after several tries we got a photo in the dark that wasn’t to blurry.

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Formal Intros

Today was pretty exciting at school. We finally did formal introductions for the students. Wyll and I made PowerPoints to show all the students. We had to keep it educational so I created a crossword and Wyll made a fill in the blank. We shared all the classes today so it was very busy. Grace is eager to have us bond with the students so she gave us a lot of time. We ended up going over for every class. Which meant that we eat a lot of yogurt and bananas. I think I ate four bananas today.

I am the lead teacher for the first two classes of the day. These are younger grades and one on one classes. I started my PP and had them fill out the crossword as I went. I think most students were very excited to hear Wyll’s favorite American music. There was even a lot of exclamations of ‘how pretty’ when mothers and sisters were on the screen. Students seemed to understand the basic ideas we were throwing at them. Keeping it simple and easy to understand was probably the hardest part of the preparation.

The youngest students didn’t even notice our multiple parents or seemingly very different looking siblings. For the older students it was hard to understand our family (as one adult student called it a ‘morning drama’- like a soap opera). Also the direct translation for step parent has bad connotations (think snow white’s step parent). Younger students were apprehensive to even say step parent out loud in Korean.  I found a direct translation and had a student read it out loud to the class. The eyes in the room were as big as saucers. A better word is ‘new parent’ which has flaws as well.

The older students wanted to know everything. They had so many questions we went over by 20 min. What a blast!

Mad Crazy life experiences

Friday we officially started to apply for our visa. We also found out our luggage was never sent. 😦 Hopefully it arrived Saturday so we an have it for our Southern California/ Nevada trip. Yesterday we also had our going away party. It was tons of fun. It was a smallish space for a pool party, everyone who came had a good time. We had a potluck and a potlatch (where you give away your stuff).

We also announced our engagement. (Unknown words and expressions!!!) Wyll and I are getting MARRIED!

I am super excited to visit my grandparents and tell them in person. Then we are headed to LA to hang out with Wyll’s grandma and then Tahoe to see Wyll’s grandpa. 26 hours of driving and one week left before departure. Ending in Ukiah to give my mom the car then maybe getting a ride into the bay area or taking the bus. The plan at this point is to stay with Parents until the flight then to bart to sfo. The strange thing is that we don’t actually have our tickets. They will come. It will be amazing.

Right now I’m enjoying the company of my family. Camilo is eating pizza, mom and I are gabbing away about life and change. Thea is upstairs preparing for a day of adventure. I think everyone had a great and wonderful time last night. Both my mom and Thea were excited to meet Wyll’s friends (Kevin the Slam Poet was a big hit). Mom is still lit; talking about Paula and what an amazing woman she is. I see so much of my mom in Paula. So happy that all the kids got to hang out- Mack, Theo, Cayden, Camilo running around, getting into trouble and being best friends forever. Thea and Zoey got to hang out, bonding over Dr. Who. It was just so much dangy fun.

I figure in six to nine months Wyll and I will have a plan about Korea. Will we be there for a second year? Will we be moving back to the State? Will we move to the east coast for school or work? At this point there are so many possibilities. It’s hard to make any kinds of plans about the future. Wyll and I are on an adventure together, right now that’s more than enough. ❤

15 days to the First

We are trying to hard to get everything together to leave before the first of October. We are still waiting for our apostilled degrees which should arrive any day. By that I mean a few days ago. Luckily we splurged and apostilled our criminal background checks through a private company so they are back already. It could have taken an additional ten business days. That may not sound like much but this is becoming a race against time. We have inventoried all of our belongings. That took some time. We are also close to completing our shopping list. Some friends have helped us purge and couch surf. The traveling has already begun. We spent a few nights at the Lemmer Lodge and will be seeing my sister soon. Next week might also bring with it a trip to Southern California, a visit to the Korean Consulate, a final hurrah at a friends house and a flight to Korea! Its all moving so fast like a blur!