A Cautionary Word of Warning to Writers:

Never let it be said that following your dreams is an easy road to travel. Along the way life has a habit of throwing many twists and turns, bumps and holes, and even sometimes the occasional wall. One of the many obstacles a writer must overcome is being scammed by someone.

Recently, on the writer’s board section of UpWork, one such apparent scam artist has submitted a phony request for writers. The company is titled “Authors Off the Block”. Their method is actually pretty genius, but in an evil way. After placing a bid for the position, the guy in charge of the “company” gets into immediate contact with the hopeful naïve freelancer.

The man known as David Tapia will then challenge the new writer to create a custom sample article to see if they’re the right fit for the job. He provides them with a choice between five specific topics about which to write, and even specifies an exact word count for this sample. He then instructs the naïve young artist to email the final copy to him directly and provides his email address.

After toiling away for days and stressing themselves past the limit to make sure they’ve crafted the perfect piece to impress this company, the aspiring author submits the final fruits of his efforts. David will then respond to the email informing the new prospect that the article is well written and will be run by a test audience to see how well it is received.

This is where the scam begins. In all actuality, there is no “test audience” and will be no future assignments. The thief will disappear into the shadows from whence he came, taking with him a nice fresh well written article. After countless failed attempts to contact him, a quick search of the top three search engines yields absolutely no results for the term “Authors Off the Block”, which indicates that no such company exists.

Even worse is the fact that the proposal in question, which has no payment method on file, has garnered over 45 “interviews” with a 0% rate of hire. That’s 45 or more fresh, nicely polished, finely crafted articles stolen from people trying to follow their dreams. Sadly, the scam artist is likely to hire another aspiring writer with dreams of making it in this business to slightly reword the articles in order to pass them off as his own.

There are a few tips to keep this sort of event from happening to someone else in the future. First, any freelancer should only work with someone who has valid payment information entered into the site. How can a company hire someone if they can’t pay for their services? Also, always be certain that the company has an established web presence in order to verify that they’re real.

Next, it may seem logical that a potential employer would need a sample of a freelance writer’s work in order to verify their validity in the craft, but in reality it is completely unprofessional for a prospective client to assign such a task without paying for it. Instead, a legitimate company will ask to view a sample of the writer’s portfolio of work. Meaning they would be viewing articles and works already established by the freelancer. A writer should never be expected to write something for free.

The final piece of advice, should a freelancer choose to use UpWork, is to make certain that a contract has been established between both parties before any work begins. This contract no only ensures the writer will be paid for his or her hard work, but also lays out the details for exactly what is expected from both parties. Only once a clear assignment has been made and the subject of payment has been agreed upon, should the writer then begin working on a new article.

Sometimes life teaches a valuable lesson the hard way. But for every bad offer there is a legitimate request waiting to be filled. It is possible, with a little bit of caution and research, to avoid being scammed. Be careful on the path to achieving a dream, there will always be someone trying to take advantage of the passionate.