How to Spot Scammers for Freelance Writers (Explained)

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Bad clients are everywhere. In fact, they are stilling money from freelance writers. So, how can you spot them and deal with them? This article is going to discuss ways to identify scammers to make sure that no one gets to take advantage of you and your sweat.

You need to be able to detect scammers fast enough so that you don’r find yourself wasting your precious time. Therefore, you need to take note of their behaviors in communication every step of your order fulfillment.

Bad First Interaction Signals

In the beginning, you can possibly detect the quality of your client from your first few interactions. These interactions should serve as red flags and home runs deterring you from engaging further with the client.

Through repeated dealing with different types of clients, I have been able to draft a criteria for assessing the possibility of whether or not a client is good or bad. Personally, I have been scammed by one client of not less than $3,000 worth of writing work. I kept ignoring the red flags giving him all the benefits of doubt until I realised it is an unending loop of stealing and revision of terms of service without my knowledge (I’ll share more on this in a video post).

For good clients, when you talk to them or even ask questions regarding work at hand, they often reply with details helping you move things forward with regards to the order. They also ask questions that stimulate your further understanding of the topic that you are working on. This is very key in building a healthy work relationship with the client.

For the bad clients on the other hand, they try as much as possible to avoid your questions especially when the questions are about payment. This is because they do not want to pay you for your work in the first place. Another trick that they use is to make demands and use offensive and manipulative language always making you feel belittled and in a vulnerable position.

They want to make you feel that they are on “top”. They mostly do this so that they can get away with the red flags without you even noticing. On top of the demands, most of the clients that I have had problems with have bad grammar and punctuation. Although, I have had good clients with bad grammar, most scammers exhibit low-quality grammar usage in whatever official language you are using to communicate and write in.

Asks for Free Work

This is another interesting area where writers are stolen from. A good client will never ask you to provide a free sample of your work. Instead, they are interested in seeing your portfolio of published work to better understand you, you voice, style and workflow.

So, if a person is posing as a client and asks for a free sample sample of your work where you do a piece that won’t get paid beware of such an individual and run as fast as possible from him!

Never ever provide a free work as a sample!

They also asks for endless revisions even if what you have written is what they are looking for.

Problems with Payments

When it come to payments, this is where you will definitely identify whether a client wants to pay you or not. Depending on the platform that you are using, there are specific questions that I normally ask myself about the client and when I see that there is some difficulties on the clients’ side, I simply back out.

The first question would be if the client is offering to pay through a trusted payment processor of your choice. Scammer will try to lure into using other payment options that are not secure or trustworthy. Ensure that the payment is done on a more developed and secure system like bank wire transfers, PayPal and the like.

The next question to ask is whether from the first conversations the client is making excuses or avoiding your questions about payment. No matter what the excuse is, don’t buy to it. As a writer, you are doing business and no business deal ends without a form of compensation and in this case it is the money that you get paid for the work done.

Look out for scams my friend!

What do you Need to Do?

If the client proves that he is a good one, the, take no action and do as per the work contract. If the client turns out to show signs of a scammer that I have discussed above, then, you definitely need to take action.

If the client is making excuses or avoiding your questions about payment and payment methods, ask them to pay 100% of the fee upfront. When you do this, it eliminated all those bad clients who want to steal from you. Such clients will beat you around the bushes and in the end not pay a dime.

If you get suspicious or need to know more about your client, please do some research even before accepting to work with them. Research about their company, their public profiles, read and watch online reviews about the client if they have been reviewed online to get a clear picture of what other freelancers have to say about the client.

Always proceed with caution!


It is undoubted that you need to know and detect bad clients early in order to avoid being scammed. In order to do this correctly, you need to be very careful with your client interactions, formulate strict work ethics, etc to beat scammers from your writing game.