Although I don’t have this issue all the time, it’s happened to me enough to rant about it and warn others.

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!

Scam Alert

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.

So what do we do about it?

There are plenty of things that we, the freelance community can do.

  1. 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?
  2. 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”.
  3. 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.

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