Hi, throwaway to protect my client in case he's legit.
This is a reworded copy of a message I sent UpWork:
===MY FIRST MESSAGE===
So I am a little bit torn in that a very promising client of mine who presented a very compelling project may in fact be intending to defraud future clients by using the work that I am creating for him.
The present job is to value-add by performing creative copywriting as well as conceptual development for a white paper.
This white paper proposes a venture related to cryptocurrency, and will purportedly be the founding document and chief marketing tool for gathering investors into creating this platform.
I have performed one previous job for [client's name removed], which was for rewriting and making presentable the homepage text for an as-of-yet-unreleased alternative crypto-currency known as [Client]Coin. The text from that job remains unused and the website still shows the original, unchanged copy [link to website removed].
I cannot prove that he has scammed or that is he intending to scam anyone, but the circumstantial evidence is quite glaring.
1: Fraud is very common in the crypto-currency industry as I have come to learn in my research. Putting up large swaths of money for 'tokens' is a very risky business, and both jobs I have been tasked to do for [my client] have involved making the prospect of making these opportunities very appealing for prospective investors. In the first one, [Client]Coin, the value-added of the crypto-currency was quite vague. In the second job, the white paper, the value-added is much more clear; however, it could still be used for significant fraud.
2: He speaks quite loosely about the details of the project and of his team, and puts a lot of trust in me - which I like, but can also signify that there is no goal beyond creating a compelling white paper that is artificial in nature.
3: Googling [client's name and associated company listed on UpWork] for his background or expertise reveals little beyond a few filler domains here and there.
[His company's website] seems to be filler: http:// <SNIP> .com/
A list of other domains registered by [the client] http://ift.tt/1Qnclvh <SNIP>
Some of the domains listed are...
Buy-my-domain type filler: http://www. <SNIP> .com/
Offline: <SNIP> .com
This could be a real and legitimate software development website - but no names or people are listed on the site <SNIP> .com
But worst and most concerning to me: [a website that is 2 typos away from being steamcommunity.com], currently offline
This appears to be a spoofing website for steamcommunity.com. Steam phishing is very concerning because it can be used to steal usernames and passwords, which could be used to obtain further personal information and potentially financial details.
Googling 'fake steam website' or 'steam community phishing' brings up many examples of players being stolen from. Even going to steam-community.com brings up a fake site offering free giftcards.
Spoofing as a scam seems very close to the kind of scam that one could pull off by using the kind of work that I am providing. I really enjoy working with the client and the project itself I think has a lot of merit - if it were executed in honest. However, the potential merit of the project could itself prove to make it quite dangerous as bait for investor funds.
I have put a significant amount of research, time, and energy into this project (partly on the basis that it directly entailed future work for me part of a routine service provided by the business proposed in this white paper, and partly because I believe in the business and the model itself.)
I would approach the subject with [my client] himself, but as a newbie on the UpWork platform, I do not know if or how I am protected from retaliation on his part, in the form of reporting incomplete work or leaving poor feedback on me.
I also do not know how or if I can be remunerated for my work completed thus far if I directly cancelled the project with him - this is also why I approached UpWork directly.
The case that is most concerning to me is the scenario where UpWork cannot 'prove' that the job is suspicious and that I will be penalized for non-completion of a project. Completing the project without any counter re-assurances of my client's legitimacy would not rest well on my conscience whatsoever. Not completing it, and losing time, money, and reputation as a result, would not rest well with me either!
Thanks for your time and energy! Please advise.
===UPWORK'S RESPONSE (1)===
Thank you for contacting and helping us in safeguarding our platform. Please note that we are following systematic procedure before taking appropriate action. We are reviewing your report and we need solid evidence to prove that the client is fraud.
Kindly provide us screenshots of your communication with the client, especially the part showing the violations or any screenshot documents deem necessary to address this issue.
===MY RESPONSE (1)===
Thanks for your prompt response. I am not sure what your request would entail with respect to what I've already written/linked in my email. Is there a number that I could contact you through for further clarification? Otherwise, please call me as soon as is convenient at <SNIP>
===UPWORK'S RESPONSE (2)===
Thank you for your email. While we appreciate the detailed information you provided regarding the possible fraudulent activity of the client, however, we still need solid evidence such as screenshot of your conversation showing what the client wants you to do is illegal or may cause damage to other company or entity. I see that the open contract between you and the client is creative writing and I do not see enough details in the Upwork messages regarding possible fraudulent activity.
If you feel I missed details in the Upwork Messages kindly send us screenshot copy of your conversation and highlight your points. If the conversation is outside the Upwork Message Center , we may ask additional proof to verify the authenticity of the evidence.
It is important that the person you are in contact with, is the same person we have on file. If the conversation is through email, please send us screenshot copy of your conversation where the email address of the client is clearly seen . Then, send us the screenshot copy where the client exchange email address to you in Upwork Messages.
I apologize but our department is purely handling email support. However , you may contact our customer support and they can be reached toll free, by calling 866-676-3375 or 855-676-3375. They are available Monday 12 a.m. to Friday 11:59 p.m., Pacific.
I understand UpWork's blind caution here, but it is still quite frustrating.
The client's work history on UpWork is good. 5 star. Lots of job completions. But I missed this spoof domain registry on my first couple passes of researching him. It's also possible that he was only planning to sell the domain back to Valve as a redirect. I can't prove it was ever used for phishing.
At this point, I feel like my only options are the ones that follow after confronting my client directly about his ownership about the steam spoofing site, and asking him for more personal and professional details about himself and his team. Depending on encouraging or destructive his response is, I will either be resuming work or doing damage control.
If anyone has some advice or sees things different, please let me know. Thanks so much.
Content by First Published on http://ift.tt/2xK9xkV