This message is intended for anyone out there who thinks it is alright to steal a writer’s hard work and claim it for their own, especially within the ghost writing community; as well as any potential upstart writers who might fall victim to this ever rampant scam within the writing community.
Recently I spent an entire week working as a ghost writer with the agreement that I would be paid for my work, only to have the agreed upon pay day come and go without receiving payment. I have repeatedly contacted this individual requesting the money owed only to be completely ignored. Now this isn’t the first time I have come across a scam artist like this. But, in the past it became quite obvious early on what was happening and I nipped it in the bud, before it got too far. This time however, the debt ran up to $365.
You may be wondering why I let it get this far. The plain and simple truth is I did not listen to my instincts. Because this individual and I had the agreement that I would be paid weekly on Wednesdays through PayPal, I continued working throughout the week and then submitted my agreed upon invoice. I waited 24 hours to see if payment would be made, and then when it was not I contacted the client directly informing them that working for them would be put on hold until payment was made. Here we are a week later an nothing, no payment, no response, nothing. So what can be done when working through the internet to guaranty that payment is made? Here are a few things that I intend to do in the future and will be doing in this case.
- Work only through reputable job boards – There are a handful of quality job boards out there who pay on time and verify the clients before they allow them to place a job. Avoid sites that do not do this. Upwork.com claims to do this, but beware they only protect hourly jobs and yet post more flat rate projects than hourly it seems. Zerys does a good job of getting you paid, but the job postings are very low pay.
- Set-up an escrow account for Direct Clients – When working directly with a client for the first time or on a large dollar project, either ask for half down up front, or if doing payment on delivery have them establish a verified escrow account via Paypal or another such site. If they ask to pay you weekly, have them provide proof that you will be paid, by making the first few assignments be paid upon receipt. This way you have some indication that this client is ethical and does intend to pay you for your work.
- If you fall victim to one of these scam artists – Report them to all of the job boards that you work through, and then post the work so that when the thief tries to post it, it will not pass Copyscape. Document the work so that it shows the day it was written, who wrote it, and possibly whom did not pay for the work. (You don’t want to get into an issue over slander, so stay as accurate to the facts as possible.) The client does not own the work in order to sell it, until they have paid you.
- Report them to the media – Although you may not get anything except satisfaction out of this option, at least it has been passed on to an organization who might be able to track this person down and expose them for the frauds that they are.
- Report them to Better Business Bureau and collections– This can be difficult if you don’t have much to go on, however if you do have contact information and a legitimate name this is a good avenue.
In my case I have two aliases and an email address which makes it difficult to pursue payment through collections. But, since I do work through several job boards I have recognized the format that he has been sending his job descriptions to me in as one of the job boards I work through on occasion and have reported him to them as well as several other sites; and I will be posting one of the articles that I wrote for this client everyday, until I either receive payment, or have posted all of them.
It is my hope that this article and rant will help any new writers out there to beware these unscrupulous thieves who feel it is alright to scam others out of their hard work, talents, and time; as well as possibly make it known to those who might consider scamming others, that it is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. In my case this is my livelihood that is being messed with, and I will stand up for myself one way or another, as I know the writing community will stand together in exposing these unethical frauds.