I received an email for what I thought would be gig. So naturally, I replied back with the same enthusiasm as I normally would.
The subject line referred to application development, thus adding to my assumption that this was a potential gig. However, the email was fairly vague, stating that the person was hoping to start a business relationship with me. Not only that, but the signature had a gif that said “Virus Free” which looked like something from Google but was actually a link to a website with UTM tracking. Yikes, not good.
A few hours later, he replied to my email. That’s when the curtain was pulled back on just about everything and I knew right then and there – he was running a scam!
Long story short, he wanted me to rent out my freelancer profile to him so he could obtain more clients and I would get a certain percentage of that. Not only does that already sound super fishy, but he also asked for me to give him my login details and download Teamviewer ahead of a video call with him. For those who do not know, Teamviewer is a remote access software, a favorite among scammers. They use this software to download personal files from your computer, install malware, and/or hold it for ransom if you don’t pay a certain sum of money.
Here’s a related example of a scammer using Teamviewer in action against an unsuspecting victim.
Unfortunately, this scam is not limited to email. I have actually experienced this scam more often through LinkedIn; as much as I love the social network for professionals, my pessimistic self sometimes believe that it has run a muck with scammers looking to take over your freelancer profile and hack your computer without you knowing. And, seeing by a certain percentage of connect requests being from people whom I believe are trying to scam me, that this problem does not have an end in sight.
There are plenty of things that we, the freelance community can do.
- Vet any connect requests the best you can. Do they have mutual connects? Are they also in your career field? Is their title and description vague?
- Almost all of the LinkedIn scammers include a connect message which tend to say something along the lines of “I would like to discuss a business opportunity with you”.
- Last but not least, their current employer is most likely a freelancer platform.
Although we can certainly do our part, I would also like for LinkedIn to do theirs as well. Whether that is to vet any potential new members or set up a system to deal with scammers attempting to victimize a legitimate freelancer, they certainly have the capability to do so. I don’t know how much activism I can do, but I’m sure there will come a time where LinkedIn can no longer ignore this glaring problem on their platform.