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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Creating work spaces

Over the last month, I’ve pursued old and new ways to find enjoyment in my adult life. July started out with the bold ambition of having my partner teach me Ruby on Rails; it’s a computer programming language that has proven beneficial in my household. Wowza, so stressful. It’s one thing to have a tutor glaring down at you; it’s way more intense when it’s your spouse! Two weeks after the initial start we realized it wasn’t working for either of us.

This coincided with putting our oldest into daycare, he hated it. Talk about grueling; every morning ‘I don’t want to go. I don’t like it there.’ Broke my heart. We called mulligan on that, too, scraping a month long plan. It just felt like all the things were wrong. Learning Ruby wasn’t going well. The toddler was extremely unhappy. He spent all his extra time telling us about what he didn’t want to do. I had connected with some mom groups in Reno, maybe I had abandoned them too quickly. Let’s give it another try.

The morning started out with the now very common daycare diatribe. I called the provider and cut ties; back to full time mom of two. As a family we went grocery shopping then ate pizza at the park. It was a good morning. Later that afternoon, our fist choice center called and said they had a surprise opening starting on Monday. We just gave up, now what!?! Do we try again? There were still chips to throw down, so much to discuss. So many un-turned stones.  As parents, we talked through it. What did we think we could get out of it? How could it be beneficial?

I still wanted to prove myself, but at a mother’s pace. A mother’s pace includes child disruptions and the weight of the ‘mental load’. Duties as house manager come first, taking precedent over my desires to learn a new skill or make money. While rigorously  studying the house went feral. It drove me crazy while I was trying to be focused on learning. So, regroup: I work on house stuff while the younger is awake. I work on me stuff while he sleeps like blogging and learning to code. While the older is at the center I can do house business and focus on what makes me happy. He likes this set up more. No tears today- first day of week 2. I met a few moms who are interested in coming over once a week to work. I’m excited to see where it goes.

 

July

Wow, how does one engage the mom brain for things other than home management. I’m getting back into coding. In my heart it feels like the thing I never understood I loved. In college I worked with HTML and CSS but the school wasn’t set up for teaching computer programming. My head is like how do you expect me to stretch when there was no warm up. I started a hundred days of code challenge. I started with a new language, Ruby. Similar enough to JavaScript but still challenging. Going through the exercises were ‘easy’. They were tough but they built on each other so by the end I had a list of functions I had made. I then used the functions to create a game. That was pretty cool. I wasn’t quite able to set up an AI player but I’m going to review that part today.

My oldest son is back in daycare and loves it. He’s playing with toys and hanging with friends which is what I aim for when it’s the two of us. The baby is getting his teeth so that is making the afternoon a little more difficult than expected. We got him some oral gel. I’m looking forward to more coding today. This mom brain hasn’t given up yet!