Back to » Love the way you work.

Welcome to the oDesk Community! Connect here with fellow clients, contractors, and oDesk staff. Please review our Usage Policy.

Is it just me or is there more "scam" jobs on odesk?

Hello everyone.

I have found some really great jobs and some really bad ones here. I keep applying to jobs that seem to want me to give out free advice and work as a trial before I get hired. One wanted me to work 2 weeks for free than he would hire me and start paying me after that. I keep reporting those but still I keep finding more and more of them.

Why is it that I can either bust my butt for $1 an hour or apply to good paying jobs and work for free before I can even get considered for the job often to lose it because I have done all the work they required for free anyways...O.o

I am really starting to question if oDesk isn't just a scam. I have to work from home do to health and while when I first started I was willing to work for pennies to build up my stats...this is for the birds.

Sorry for the rant but I am tired of non stop applying and never getting hired or paid for the work I do.


Vote Result

Score: 10.0, Votes: 9
ODesk isn't a scam but some

ODesk isn't a scam but some clients are who try to take advantage of the ODesk work system. You need to use your head and stop applying to jobs which you think are scams. There is nothing like a free lunch, so you should stop serving that to some clients.

Try This

I've been running tests with job applications on the issue of free advice. There's an art to this - think of it this way, it's like giving the clients a taste test and showing them the whole package from a distance. You can say that you're doing it for goodwill and they're not obliged to hire you for your thoughts -- and you'll be surprised that sharing bits of your thoughts can earn you trust. You don't even have to send a sample of work for this. You can even point out problems you see that's not opened up in the job description and hint that you can help.. and they may even hire you for a new position. Where did I learn this tip? From social media influencers I connect with online - who are more than happy to give an advice or two that earns them the trust badge worthy of a big project.

Just experiment and tell me how it went. Smile

That's a good idea but...

...people reading need to be clear about the difference between Marissa's suggestion, which involves taking the initiative and offering some unsolicited advice, and providing free custom samples or "tests" for clients who *ask* for them. The first one could open doors if done right. The second one just wastes your time and encourages scammers.

I agree entirely

It needs to be understood that there is a clear difference here.

OP giving advice or free "tests" that are requested by a scamming client is just bad business sense. Marissa's suggestion is wisdom for wise contractors. Judith is right, there is a clear difference that should not be confused.

OP, you may well keep applying to jobs that you want but don't get and continue to only receive interest from the bottom feeders if you don't do TWO HUGE THINGS.

1 Stop applying for crap. (easy enough. no effort involved here)
2 Do something about your profile. For one thing, you are not a Jack, you're a Jane, and that is a bogus, lame title that will get you passed up in a second, anyways. There is so much else wrong with your profile. Read the forums and help sections and take the information to heart.

Not very fair to think that oDesk is a scam when you aren't really making the effort to learn how to make it work for you.

work makes a man workman.

i agree. even i am also a new contractor here but i feel new contractors should concentrate on quick work instead of looking for long-term projects. and before applying for your first job one should judge his abilities and s/he should make an attractive profile with a good portfolio of his/her work. If applying for a graphic-editing kind of job it may be a good idea to watermark your samples to make it easy for the clients whether you are the right person for them or not. For a minute keep yourself in an honest client's shoes and you would know they are also looking for some serious contractors.

Genuine start

I think Rajiv you sound genuine to me. I have been reading quite a lot of online literature regarding oDesk (scam or not). I am a brand new user: I have not even started applying for any job yet. I have been thinking similarly to the way you put it: (sincere)judgement of my abilities as well very short time work. The point in this is to test myself, to have an opprtunity of (a) client(Drunk feedback and the system itself.

We are free to take on

We are free to take on whatever work we wish to, but oDesk should amend current policy to forbid requesting writing samples as part of the bid proposal.

We are being duped. Please start flagging this suspicious looking jobs, especially when there is no payment history with oDesk.

Don't provide usable samples,

Don't provide usable samples, if the "trial" job was to prepare a excel spreadsheet, prepare it and send them a screenshot of it with a watermark across it. When people want to hear a sample of the song I'm going to make for then, I send them a 30 second sample with faded beginning and ending the word "demo" playing ever 10 seconds, they can hear their song, but its unusable otherwise. If I have to devote more than 15 minutes to "proving" myself to a client, I will not.

People have a right to make sure you can do your job. If you've ever been on the hiring side of odesk, you'd think it was even MORE of a scam by all the stuff that will come into your inbox. I once was looking for someone to do ANSI art, three people sent me the same sample, which happened to be the third item that shows up when you google image search "ansi art", none of them were from the country of the creator of the original. People will tell you anything to get the upfront payment and then vanish.

People prey on those who don't use common sense on the internet and who are desperate for one thing or another. Don't do work for free that they can use, if they go too far in what they're asking, tell them your portfolio should be enough. If you have zero feedback, offer to do a job for $1 just to get good feedback to put you on the map, then you can go from there.

Thanks for sharing!!!

Great advice!!!

You opened my eyes

I am a newbie and I didn't know all those tips and tricks and just today I provided a usable sample. I am stupid and somehow idiot. From now one I will watermark my samples, if someone requests me. I am surrounded by professionals, I better keep my eyes and ears open since oDesk is my only financial income. If I don't make money, I don't eat. It's that simple. Thank you so much for being so kind with us, the newbies. You, all, have my respect. I hope one day to become a professionist like you.



well said!

If you ask me...

....technically, oDesk is not a scam. However, most of the workers are scammers.
Don't trust any of them, especially **
Like many other contractors she takes an upfront payment, then ends the contract herself so you cannot leave feedback. And based on odesk's policies, you'll never see that upfront payment again! They will not fight for you to get a refund, oDesk could really care less as long as they get their 10%.

I've only ever wasted money on odesk and I've tried very careful hiring processes.

**"Removed by admin"

Caitlyn, I'm sorry you had a

Caitlyn, I'm sorry you had a bad experience with a contractor. You can still leave appropriate feedback for her by looking at the closed contract (Provided two weeks haven't passed already).

Secondly, please report her to Customer Support and explain what went wrong. While there's no guarantee on fixed price jobs, oDesk does take policy violations seriously.

oDesk Forum Moderator

Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...

Agree with this

You have to really sift through tons of scammers to find decent work. We have been hiring for around 3 months now and I can say that most of the applications are from dirty scammers.

Right now I have a worker that claims is from Canada, and every conversation we have she asks for more money like a rabid squirrel. It is the sickest thing to have conversations with people like that. She did mediocre work and I asked why, she said because she was so worried about the money.

it is allot of work finding good help here, but I do have a couple of people that I use often from here that have been excellent. To use this effectively, you have to weed through the parasites or you will get burned. Never pay an upfront fee.

Well, this is how not to do it ...

Steven C. wrote:
You have to really sift through tons of scammers to find decent work. We have been hiring for around 3 months now and I can say that most of the applications are from dirty scammers

If that is the case maybe you want to rethink your recruitment strategies...

Never pay an upfront fee.

And that is how you end up with the scammers and the desperados. That, and low, low rates, of course.

Most of the best contractors with a clue will not accept a fixed price contract without an up front payment.

From a buyers perspective

Hi all,

I've used oDesk as a buyer for the past 2-3 weeks and my tell you that as a newby buyer I've been scammed already.

I've been using other freelance websites (always a buyer) for more than 10 years. First with elance then with rentacoder, vworker,, and now oDesk. This is the first time in 10 years that I get scammed.

As a buyer and specially a brand new one on oDesk, there's the potential for scammers to rip buyers off. The system has no escrow mechanism and although it appears that there's a warning on the terms of usage, there's no warning at the time to pay a contractor.

This is exactly how I was scammed. I agreed with a contractor to code something for me. I was asked to hire the coder which I did but didn't realize that the coder has asked for funds to be sent up front (basically there is no difference in the process of an upfront or later payment).

You probably know the rest. The programmer never delivered the code and I received an email from oDesk telling me that the funds were sent to the programmer. In fact, it was this email that alerted me that something was wrong.

After several weeks and messages from oDesk telling me to wait for the programmer to deliver the product. The contractor's account banned (hey they can still open a new one under a new name) I still haven't seen either the product nor my funds.

oDesk basically washed their hands and also threatened me to ban my account if I complain to my credit card company.

So as you can see, it is not only contractors that get scammed but also buyers.

New to oDesk

I just joined oDesk and was contacted for a one week free trial by a client. I googled and discovered this client is doing this with hundreds of people and using free work a lot. I would like to see oDesk FORBID asking for free samples and these things, so to make these predators leave the site. As long as it allows, think as a predator and wonder why not using a place of people, many of them desperately looking for a job like me, eager to try to have a full time job. I think oDesk should expressely ask not to use free trials

asking for free work *is*

asking for free work *is* forbidden by oDesk. you need to flag the job as inappropriate to call oDesk's attention to it. for now, that's the only way they can find out.

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou
Try harder, or care less.

You can do that all day long,

You can do that all day long, but the job posts that ask for free work seem to still stay up.

Hi Federica, please Customer

Hi Federica, please Customer Support to report the client asking for free work.

oDesk Forum Moderator

Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...

In some fairness

In some fairness to the marketplace, Federica, trials are not always a negative, it would depend on a number of factors. 'Demanding' or 'forcing' free work or other, similar, activity is considered unacceptable and specifically targetting the vulnerable for free/cheap work, for example. If the supply exceeds the trade demand, then there is your answer... In an open market, as is oDesk, you would need to be alert if you are wanting a more experienced clientelle (and remember there are many youngsters entering the fray, start ups, and, some folks simply jumping on the client bandwagon without really being up to the task.. Even those of us who have managed to live so far without benefit of lawyers and therapists, actually little more than a vegetable peeler (and only at home, not permitted in public), can be surprised by some of the goings on when first entering the world market. Maybe give it some time...

I feel you.

I feel the same. It's hard on either side.


forgot your ORT

Odesk is not a scam. They never been. It's the clients that take advantage of odesk system. Never worked WITHOUT a CONTRACT. Fixed-Priced is not so on. They're all stated in odesk help section and in the Odesk Readiness TEST.

Don't forget

Jowett Isaiah Go wrote:
Odesk is not a scam. They never been. It's the clients that take advantage of odesk system. Never worked WITHOUT a CONTRACT.

And the contractors who fall for it, and who claim skills they do not have.

buyer/seller beware

As a contractor or client, I think the best way to protect yourself is to go with contractors/clients who have high feedback ratings based on many jobs. Not boasting but I have a 5 star contractor rating over 20 jobs. My hourly rate isn't the cheapest, but like anything else, you have to pay for quality. I have never asked for an advance payment on a fixed price contract, so as much as possible I only work for people who have already spent money at odesk, and I stay away from people who pay $3 an hour.