The Clash was probably the best band that came out of Punk rock. The guys had the characteristic energy but were also excellent songwriters players, and obviously thought with their heads. And they had a great grasp of any music genre. That is why they also liked Reggae and were able to recognize the genius in Junior Murvin and one of the best songs to come out of Reggae, “Police and Thieves”.
Now, this song came to my mind not much due to the mention of the police, but because of the thieves. Or, to be more precise, when freelance writing is concerned, various scammers, the number of which seems to be growing.
You may wonder what I’m talking about unless you are a freelancer that frequents various freelance sites serving as job offering centers. It is usually a place frequented by writers that are starting out, or are looking for a quick job or jobs to not only get experience or thicken their portfolio but get some needed cash in their pockets. So it is no wonder that it is a place where it seems two types of scammers seem to prey behind the corner.
The first is trying to lure less experienced or job hungry writers by offering them seemingly better pay that the most poorly paid jobs that are usually on offer. Their tactic is to keep the communication with the writer as much off the grid as possible, usually through Skype, where their real personal details and location can be hidden well.
They usually keep piling the work on the writers, up until the moment when they have to pay for the work done. They evade as much as they can, and when the writer finally realizes that none will be forthcoming, all traces of them are lost.
The sites usually cover themselves well in these cases, because they have there is an obligation that all the communication about the jobs should be carried through them. In some cases, they offer some kind of compensation, in others they don’t. In any case, the writers are always the party that ends on the shorter side of the stick.
Recently though, another sort of scammers, I guess they consider themselves pranksters has shown up in the freelance writing world. Basically, it is the ever-present malicious hackers. They present themselves as a regular employer seeking freelance writers, usually with reasonable offers.
When a few writers respond, they quickly offer them a job, usually sending them two or three files that are supposed to writing guidelines and payment offers. Again, Skype seems to be the preferred choice of contact. Some of these files are pdf or word files, and one is usually some form of a trojan or virus. Of course, most commonly it is the pay scale or payment offer, or whatever, something probably any hungry (or not so hungry) writer would tend to open first.
It seems I was lucky recently when in such a situation I opened the writing guidelines file first, which seemed quite senseless. When, before touching other files I asked “the editor” if he has any other instructions or files in another format, and got the answer: “Nope”, I got the inkling that it might be a good moment to trash all the files received and “gracefully” thank “the editor” on his offer. Getting in touch with the job site, of course, was a must do.
But then, the sites are not really the police, they can ban such “employers”, but what else they can do, they’ll have to see, because both types of “thieves” seem to be multiplying. In such, cases, I doubt that either The Clash or Junior Murvin will be of much help.