Abuse from a Job Application
March 30, 2016 9:46 PM   Subscribe

I applied for a job advertised on Craigslist. The amount offered was substantially below what I'd normally work for but I thought I might give it a try....then it got weird.

I've been doing some freelance writing work and amassing a portfolio of online content from those gigs. But this past few months have not been very lucrative, so I've taken on some other, more unusual projects. I'm helping a man self-publish a book on his life philosophy, for instance. About ten days ago, I dashed off an email to someone advertising on Craigslist for SEO writing. The pay was abysmal, about 1.5 cents a word, but times are tough and so I figured it would be easy to fire off these 500 word articles for a bit of extra money.

Last night, at around 10 my time, I received a reply, asking for some writing samples. I gave some thought to what I'd send, but I was busy meeting with Mr. Lee (the aspiring author) today and had chores to do and was generally busy all day.

At around 4 this afternoon, I checked my email from my phone and found this letter from someone called Dennis:

"What the fuck is wrong with you?
You respond to an advertisement but afterwards I hear nothing from you at all.
Do you want to make money or do you prefer to be lazy and complain about everything that's wrong with this world?
You now have the chance to change your life but it appears that you're just another loser."

I have not replied, nor will I. The company name is the name of a company in Thailand and my GMail marks it as unverified origin and possibly from a spammer. What fresh hell is this? It left me feeling shaken and upset for the rest of the day. I'm pretty desperate for work, but no so desperate as to consider working for someone like this. Can anyone explain what is going on here? Is it a content spam artist, or someone farming out their own SEO contracts for a fraction of the amount they're being paid? I am already pretty down, I totally did not need this.
posted by alltomorrowsparties to Work & Money (20 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
To figure out what it was, you could copy and paste, and then plop the original ad into google and see what comes up (some people warn and describe scams, bad practices, etc., and often the entire ad is used over and over again for a long time).

My guess is also if you really wanted to find out, you could get another email account and throw it back to see what they offer (ie, send an email as if a new applicant), but don't take it since you know how they behave.

I know that you are shaken up, but consider this dodging a bad poisonous arrow: Would you have really wanted to work for someone like this? If this is the behavior now, and they are overseas, would they have paid you?

If there is a part of your brain that goes "arrghh", strike back, flag the ads in craigslist. Copy and paste the ad and put it up on a blog if you have one with a warning.
posted by Wolfster at 10:01 PM on March 30, 2016 [11 favorites]

It sounds like it's run by an entitled asshole regardless of whether it's a scam or not. If they're this unprofessional, then just walk away, don't follow up with them, heck, filter their emails directly to the trash if you possibly can.

Keep in mind that any half-wit can post a craigslist ad. There's no guarantee anyone who posts an ad isn't an asshole, and honestly it doesn't really matter if it's shady SEO or a scam or what, you dodged a bullet by not doing work for this guy. Don't let them occupy space in your mind anymore.
posted by Aleyn at 10:07 PM on March 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

Either a scam or just a garden variety asshole. It doesn't matter. Move on.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:12 PM on March 30, 2016 [11 favorites]

What's going on is that this is the same type of person who will send an unsolicited, 600-page novel to an agent or publisher, with a bombastic and flowery cover letter about how this is the chance of a lifetime to publish the number one bestselling book of the century, and then barrage their target with insults and abuse after receiving the inevitable form rejection. These people suck to be around, but there's very little anyone can do about their behavior. I'm sorry you wound up on the receiving end. On the other hand, I'm glad that you didn't get embroiled monetarily with this guy! Far better to find out now, block his address, and never encounter him again.
posted by wintersweet at 10:59 PM on March 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry this happened to you. A person who takes ten days to reply to a query then berates you with expletaves for not responding in 24 hours is not worth any of your headspace.

You can follow these steps to report the poster to Craigslist. Flag it so you can move on. Best.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 11:07 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What with the SEO thing and that rate of pay and it being Craigslist, my money's on scam. You can't let those things get to you, because you are going to get a lot of scams on Craigslist, and they've learned what works on people in your line of work. I know someone who does tutoring and there are similar stories there. Weird messages at odd hours from places outside the US and then people getting strangely angry over basic requests like "uh hey what subject does your kid actually need tutoring in". That "change your life" thing sets ALL THE WARNING BELLS EVER for me. It's not even just that it's possibly some content farm--there's a fair chance of these things being bait-and-switch tactics for other scams. Or phishing to get your contact information and social security number (or other identifying info).

You've probably heard about all the IRS-related identity theft issues lately? One of the things that's been happening is that people are getting phone calls saying they owe money. But they aren't just getting told they owe money. They're getting told, like, you owe this huge sum of money and the cops are going to come arrest you right now if you don't do what we tell you to. Scammers are definitely getting to the point where they're happy to be abusive if it'll put you off-balance and increase their odds of getting what they want. Craigslist is not a great place to look for freelance gigs for a lot of reasons, but this is up there.
posted by Sequence at 11:39 PM on March 30, 2016 [25 favorites]

Response by poster: This is kind of cheating, because it's another question but my last three gigs have been found on CL, and they've worked out fine. Where is a better place to look for this kind of work? I've looked around and most of the leads I find are just 'Earn Money Now in Your Free Time, I Made 87 000 My First Month' kind of things. I'm not well right now (if you're curious, I have a previous Ask about my condition) and this is some of the only kind of work I can do at this time. I have every confidence in my writing abilities and a handful of very satisfied clients more than willing to vouch for me. (Sorry for being a rule-bender)
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 11:51 PM on March 30, 2016

A couple of writing jobs at WeWorkRemotely

More freelance-type gigs at Reddit /r/forhire (slightly craigslisty).
posted by rhizome at 12:31 AM on March 31, 2016 [9 favorites]

People can be dicks. Flag it and move on.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:16 AM on March 31, 2016

Don't take the abuse personally, it looks like a hard-selling scam tactic. My brother by name only does Craigslist job ad scams and he has a toolkit of tricks and manipulation techniques he uses to separate people from their money (at best). The last thing he would care about is who you are as a person, so there's nothing behind any of it.

There are a lot of scam artists in the internet marketing world, so you might find a lot of people like that. I'd keep your guard up. If you want to make money writing, try finding a corporation or other business that hires writers, which might take some entrepreneurial spirit (and really depends on your location, I guess).
posted by gehenna_lion at 3:49 AM on March 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

Try Textbroker. It pays the same or better and you choose your own assignments from a list.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:22 AM on March 31, 2016 [4 favorites]

My mother in law has built up a pretty lucrative freelance gig through guru.com. She has had nothing but great experiences with her guru clients.
posted by anastasiav at 5:35 AM on March 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

You have memail.
posted by nkknkk at 5:39 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

lots of good advice above - both in my avocational music performance life, the little bit of writing I've done, and my profession in eCommerce web development, I've found that the following holds true:

The less they want to pay, the greater the chance they're total jerks.

On the topic of Craigslist being full of scams, my experience may be colored by living in a smaller, less techno-savvy part of the world where the real content is less so the scam content stands out more. But I've been disappointed so much by CL that I've pretty much stopped using it. It's so hard to tell a scam sometimes. My last experience was to look for an apartment - a real picture of a real property in this area, and following up on the ad leads only to someone wanting my SSN and other info before they show me the place or talk to me. Ummm, NO.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:31 AM on March 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

A fellow mefite wrote about how she makes some money writing online.
posted by soelo at 7:16 AM on March 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is weirdly similar to an experience I had a few years ago writing some SEO content for a non-US company. The women sent me a really unexpectedly nasty message (insulting my grammar even!) after the initial contact on some freelance site. I had already written one of the articles, and I wanted to be paid for that at least, so I did respond to the email, and after that, everything was fine and civil (I was paid promptly) and I wrote a few articles for them until I could find other work. I don't know what the deal was, or if there's some sort of angle they were working.

Textbroker has issues, but paid better than most gigs I found for this sort of thing.
posted by mmmbacon at 12:50 PM on March 31, 2016

Either he's trying to goad/intimidate you into responding to what is undoubtedly a scammy and bad opportunity, or else he's actually that obnoxious.

Either way, not worth interacting with this guy further.
posted by theorique at 1:05 PM on March 31, 2016

You could also try Upwork. There are lots of jobs posted, but they tend to go pretty quick.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:53 PM on March 31, 2016

There currently are scams (read the comments) on upwork, elance, etc. sites that can be used to rescind payment after delivery.
posted by rhizome at 5:06 PM on March 31, 2016

Personally, I won't work with those who do not know how to respect other people. These people give off negative vibes and will pose more problems down the road for you should you decide to work with them. While times may be hard, you are better off working with people who values your work and know how to respect you.
posted by atftang at 3:40 AM on May 9, 2016

« Older Is my counter top all right?   |   We're moving to Chicago! How do we figure out... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.