I get heartbroken every time I read horror stories in Facebook groups that new VAs and freelancers were scammed online.
It’s sad stories indeed. You could be one of these people when you go online. Who could easily believe, be taken advantage of and be deceived?
I warn you.
Don’t be so excited right away when you get a response from a client. Take it easy. You do not know the repercussions of making such a quick decision.
Now, to avoid being duped online and be in the same situation with others, it is always your job to research diligently—to know about the people you’re dealing with online and the jobs you’re applying for.
You have to remember:
Scammers and non-paying clients are heartless. They’re ready to eat you alive every chance they get. They’d flushed out their conscience a long time ago.
Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
Let me share with you some of the telltale signs of non-paying clients and scammers online.
Let’s get started.
Top telltale signs of non-paying clients and scammers online
1. They offer a big rate for quite a simple task
If it’s your first time to apply for a job and I’ll offer you a rate of $20 per hour for a data entry job, will you grab it?
Of course, you do.
Who doesn’t want a $20/hr? It sounds heavenly. Right?
This will soon solve all your financial problems.
But hey, wake up, dude! It’s too good to be true. Data entry is nowhere near that rate. It’s even difficult to find a $5 an hour pay. How much more with a $20 an hour rate?
I’ll tell you now.
Almost anyone who knows how to punch a keyboard can do a data entry job.
Believe me, it’s a no-brainer work. If there’s an offer, it can’t be that much for this kind of work.
Interestingly, the simpler the job, the cheaper the rate. This can be true online or offline. Data entry simply a job that doesn’t require a lot of thinking.
It’s one of the cheapest jobs online.
Typically, the pay is less than $3/hr for beginners. That’s why you should NOT believe if you’re offered for $20 an hour. Even for $10/hr. Especially when you are not a data specialist or scientist.
Swallow this fact, hard. To avoid this kind of scheme. Online.
2. They will ask you to download a particular software and test it.
It sounds harmless, right?
But, hold on. There’s a catch.
When you download the software, they’ll ask for a one-time fee before you can use it.
Don’t fall for it. It’s a trap.
The download fees seem to be believable – somewhere $30-$60. Yeah, it’s tempting to pay when you have some extra cash and badly needed a job.
I’ll tell you straight, don’t do it.
The software is only a front. The end goal is to get money from you. Most of the time, they’ll say, “This is a test if you know how to use our software. A full refund will be given within 30 days.”
It’s a lie—a big, fat lie. They won’t refund your money.
Get away from these swindlers. Fast.
3. They will ask you to join a Facebook group and watch their videos online.
This is kinda tricky.
I was a victim. It’s hard to tell if you are talking to a real client. Because they won’t ask for any money. Yet, they hint a job. So I believed and wasted time.
You might be tricked too.
These people need our time and participation. Their motive: to increase their Facebook group members and have more people to watch their YouTube videos.
Later, you’ll realize that they’re slowly educating you about the launching of their (new) business or product.
They’ll consider you as one of their potential customers. And if you can’t afford their products (because it’s expensive), they’ll ask for referrals to get more prospects.
It’s time-consuming. Furthermore, they’ll try to indoctrinate you to do some tasks for free. For a little promise to give you a job soon. And you’ll likely believe it.
In the end, you’ll end up like me. Who wasted time and not getting paid for a job well done.
Mind you, it will suck a lot of your time and energy. Instead of spending it somewhere else finding a real client. I was pretty dumb to go along until I reached a point that something is wrong. Really wrong.
Do you know what’s even worse and disappointing? When you discovered they’re network marketers of Bitcoins pretending to be clients.
4. They use fake names
A good client will introduce himself with a real name and his company. A fake one will use fake names and fake companies.
But how will you know if they are pretending?
Simple: search their names on Google. On different social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn. If you can’t find them there, that’s where you may conclude they’re not using their real names.
A legit company most of the time has a website. When you ask for their website URL, they can’t provide it. If they can, you can’t find it online. Or maybe you search their websites online. But the person you’re communicating with is not associated with that company.
That sends a bad signal.
This is how I screen my potential clients.
The style of non-paying people is they always ask you to do a test job before they hire. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But what’s wrong about it? A test job is like a real job.
Sadly, some people take it. Fine.
It seems okay in the beginning. But, once you’re hired and you did another job, this is where you identify the problem.
They won’t pay you for the hours you spent on work. They’re not in the business of hiring people. Rather, they exist to get free work and use your work somewhere else for profit.
Now, pursuing them online to get your pay is futile. Why? They’re anonymous online.
How will you chase them if they use fake names, right?
5. They are looking for free work.
Yes, I mentioned this earlier. But this time is different. You’ll be dealing with a real person.
I experienced this. It’s hard to know in the beginning if you’re dealing with a good client. Normally, the jobs they ask is online research, data entry, or writing an article for their blogs.
As I said, the person is real and the business is really existing. They have a website.
Cool. They’re legit.
You have the necessary information to identify a real client. You can even talk to him on Skype. That’s great. You’re closer to work with him. Amazing.
Then you gave in to the final test he gave: wring an article or do a data entry job. After he said, “You’re not fit for the job because you did not meet our standards.”
You feel sorry for yourself. It hurt. You didn’t pass. Man, let it go because you may be dealing with one of the crooked folks online.
How do you identify them? Check the type of work they’d asked you to perform.
Is it a task that they can use for profit? If yes. That’s it. They’re using you to get free work. Try to search this person online using his name, and see if there’s a bad review.
I know this can be difficult sometimes. But who knows, you can find some information about them.
Few VAs were able to catch them. And even warn others.
Use your own judgment if you can’t find any feedback online. Research widely.
Avoid wasting time. It’s better to identify early non-paying clients.
6. They are communicating with you through different names.
This one is a red flag.
If you are talking to a real legit client, he’ll use his real name on all social media platforms.
I’d encounter this before. I noticed his Skype account name is different from his LinkedIn profile. It sent a mixed bad signal.
I tried to ask him about it and said, “I want to be anonymous on Skype”.
“Okay, how about your Facebook account? Why is it different?” I further inquired.
He said he wanted to be anonymous there, too. It’s 90% confirmed. I was not talking to a paying client. I turned down his offer right away.
His goal is the same in number 5: a free blog article.
I’ve dealt with a lot of clients online. They use their names on all social media channels. As part of their strategies to build authority and good visibility online.
If you see a client using different names online, be careful to proceed. No matter how good the offer is.
Investigate further before it’s too late.
7. They will ask for your bank details and passwords.
The most obvious reason to identify a scam: they ask for passwords.
Any password is a big NO.
It can be an email password or social media passwords; how much more your bank account passwords, DO NOT ever share.
A lot of aspiring VAs got hacked. Because they shared their passwords to strangers online. Who played to be so kind, sweet, and legit.
In the end, their bank savings and personal details were stolen. Horrible stories.
Get rid of these rogues. Watch out. They’re good at talking. Very persuasive. Alluring.
Be on guard. Protect yourself.
It’s not easy to find good-paying clients. It takes hard work. When you start applying online, sometimes, you can’t avoid encountering some crooks online.
At least, now, you can practice good judgment based on the telltale signs above. Scammers may be more inventive or clever with their tricks today.
But one thing for sure is their motive: to get money from you or to get free work or both.
In any instance they’ll ask for money before you can get a job, it’s obviously a scam.
Ignore them right away.
For non-paying clients, the solution is to search for their background online. Read a lot. Know their real identity. Look for review online.
Try to post their names on FB groups and the type of jobs they want you to do. Most of the time, they leave a trace and a common pattern of their schemes.
Avoid their gimmick. Their ploy and schemes and shenanigans.
You are wiser now. Get rid of non-paying clients and avoid getting scammed online.