Update 12 February 2014: This account has now FINALLY been closed! Only took 4 months!
If you’ve read my last few posts, you’ll know that I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet at the moment about users on Freelancer.com who aren’t quite what they seem. You can view or add to my growing list of suspicious profiles by going here.
But there’s one particular finding from my research that I want to share with you today: the Freelancer user ‘Jilimo987‘.
I was immediately suspicious of Jilimo987. For starters, the smiling brunette’s hometown and country was given as ‘Mirpur-1, United States’. I noticed just today that this has now been changed to ‘Mirp’, but no matter – Mirpur is in Bangladesh not America.
Secondly, Jilimo987’s English is terrible and she has that tell-tale Asian accent to her writing, particularly in her responses to some of the negative feedbacks she has received.
Thirdly, and most tellingly, Jilimo987 links to the EZine author page of someone called Christa O’Conner, claiming that this is evidence of her writing portfolio. If Jilimo987 = Christa O’Conner, why then does she spell her name on the Freelancer profile as ‘Christia O Corner’? Bit weird, don’t you think?
So, I googled Christa O’ Conner, the owner of the EZine page, to see if I could find out more about her. It didn’t take long for me to track her down on social media.
So I messaged her and let her know about my suspicions.
The real Christa was NOT happy, as you can imagine!! As it happens, the real Christa does dabble in freelance writing and while she has profiles on oDesk and ELance, she confirmed for me that she has NEVER set up a profile on Freelancer.com. It seems that someone, somewhere (Bangladesh, perhaps?!), has stolen photos from Christa’s Facebook page (including one of her and her baby son!), is linking to her EZine articles and claiming they are theirs, and using Christa’s identity in order to win projects on Freelancer.com. And they have been doing it since May 2012.
This could be incredibly damaging to the real Christa’s reputation as a genuine freelancer, and I suspect this is not the only example of this scam on Freelancer.com. I have informed a member of Freelancer.com staff who visits this blog, so I sincerely hope that the person behind ‘Jilimo987’ is brought to justice. I’m no legal expert, but surely this identity theft is illegal??
It’s also really creepy. Happy Halloween, y’all.
Update November 5: This profile is still online, still has a photo of Christa on the front page, and still links to Christa’s EZine author page. One small mercy is that the photograph of Christa’s baby son has been removed (to be replaced by a screen shot of the EZine page…). I have reported a violation again!
Update November 20: This profile is STILL online. The photos of the real Christa have all now been removed and replaced with logos, and the user no longer misspells ‘Christia O Corner’. BUT the profile still links to the real Christa’s EZine author page and now has a certificate (fake?), bearing Christa’s name, claiming to have reached platinum author level. The profile text has changed, but a quick Google search reveals that it has been copied and pasted word-for-word from the LinkedIn profile of someone called Amy Covington. Reported again!