Monday, December 26, 2016

THE DANGERS OF FREELANCING SITES LIKE GURU.COM - Is There A New Battle Space for Identity Theft?

By: Kaeru
(Originally published at Techlens, republished on The Information Station with prior permission of the author)

Image result for identity theft Writing Jobs for “Skilled” Freelancers

On November 14, 2016 “FERVENT A”, a prospective Employer on, created a new Jobs Listing account with the Freelance Writing website.  The job posting stated,
“Proficient Writers Wanted
Greetings to all writers,
We need highly experienced native English writers to help us create high-quality web content and blog posts for our clients. We provide unique topics and keywords, from which we expect writers to conduct thorough research and come up with interesting, informative articles.”
On December 04, 2016, “APPEALING A” posted this on
“We’re Looking for Efficient Writers
We are looking to work with Highly experienced native English article writers who find it easy to work under minimum or supervision and deliver high-quality work. We cover a wide range of niches and believe in carrying out thorough research and producing unique informative and interesting content.”
On December 05, 2016, another jobs posting by “EXQUISITE A” posted,
“Reliable Writers Needed
We are looking for US-based writers who can write quality articles and deliver work even before stipulated deadlines. Our articles cover a huge range of niches and come with different types of keywords, which we expect writers to use naturally for content optimization.”
Each posting promising $10-25k fixed price budget and regular work.
SITREP: Freelance Writer was accepted by the “FERVENT A” Employer. A reply message was sent by Helen Stone, Lead Author Services Administrator, Fervent Articles next day. also sent a duplicate message to the writer via email seen below. As can be seen within the document, the “Administrator” is explaining compensation for work done and required documents and information needed by the Employer to move forward.
Below is a message from Fervent for Project ID: 1304967, “Proficient Writers Wanted”.
Please note that in order to write us, you must be a US citizen or permanent resident who is at least 18 years of age. To fully induct you into our team, your resume and writing sample, which can be one or two of your previous jobs. We also require clear, readable pictures of your government-issued US driver license (front&back) and/or passport and a separate photo of you holding the ID/passport.
We pay $65 per 500 words and payments are made every Friday. As project managers, we are required by the IRS to ask you for your W-9 form, which can be downloaded at in order to pay you your money. This form confirms that you are a US person (citizen or resident) and subject to US tax rules. Once it’s received, we’ll be in a good position to always process your weekly payments smoothly throughout our working relationship. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can be of further assistance.”
Helen Stone
Lead Author Services Administrator
Fervent Articles
Your friends at Guru 
When replying to this message:
– Do not modify the subject line or your message may not be delivered to the appropriate party.
– Max 5,000 characters, 10MB of attachments.© 2016 Guru | 5001 Baum Blvd, Suite 760, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Guru Answers | Help Center | Contact Us | Facebook | Twitter
The Writer complied with the instructions, with the exception of the U.S. Federal Form W9 because the Writer believed provided that service. A second message was sent to the writer.
“Fervent Articles                                
Hello Writer,
Thank you for your prompt reply. You seem to have forgotten to submit your W9. Plus, pleas provide a clearer copy of you holding your ID because the one we have is blurry.”
The Writer was suspicious about the message because there was no send name or Admin tag attached. The Writer complied anyway by sending new pictures and a completed U.S. Federal Form W9.
The Writer did not hear back from the prospective employer for a week. The Writer sent an internal message to the prospective Employer by the end of the week and a subsequent one next day. There was no reply. All communications were done via the Writer’s profile website.
A day later, the Writer reported the “FERVENT A” job posting as “fraud” and began a communication line with the Administrator. The Writer expressed concerns of Identity Theft and requested to provide minimal company information in an attempt to communicate directly with the Employer. The Writer also gave the similar profiles “APPEALING A” and “EXQUISITE A” to investigate. The Writer also communicated concerns of employer legitimacy and requested information on how to vet the Employer source to prove it is a legitimate business or person. responded via private email to the Writer and explained they cannot release any information about employers since there is anonymity between employer-writer relationship; only maintains private information on both parties. did mention they would look into the fraud complaint and “kick off” the Employer profile.
Further communication revealed insisted they do not recommend writers provide employers any personal information (such as W9 with Social Security numbers) but does offer a 1099 service through their website. also stated that if the Writer was concerned about Identity Theft, then they should notify authorities. refused to help the writer contact the Employer or contact the Employer on the Writer’s behalf.
The Writer did file police reports as well as a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint IC3 Form.
Comments: is a Freelance Writer platform which boasts a neutral relationship between Freelance Writers and Employers. Anyone who needs a writing job done can apply as an Employer describing themselves as a business or a person. Freelance Writers can apply to for work. Employers post job descriptions and often a “Budget” amount to pay writers from. Writers “bid” for a posting and wait for a response from a prospective Employer. Employers can instant message Writers through their profile and Writers can ask questions on the open posting forum. Writers can only contact an Employer if the Employer contacts them first.
An internal investigation by ActivePerception to test the viability of employment connections for legitimate work revealed startling results. ActivePerception analyzed results through both a Freelance Writer and Employer lens by opening accounts for each respectively. Results revealed Writers could not see any information about Employers that the Employers did not provide. Employers could create their profile however they wanted to without providing legitimate information. For example, ActivePerception was able to apply as an Employer with a fictitious company name, fictitious contact information, and false address and other information.
This is concerning to the Freelance Writer because these people are looking for legitimate work. If they want to get paid, they need to create legitimate profiles in order to appropriately document work and pay for reporting purposes. Of course, certain outliers such as those seeking to get paid work without reporting income is a factor, most honest Freelance Writers expect Employers to be legitimate in order to be consistently paid.
Content Analysis of the three reported job postings above indicate a similar pattern of language including, word choice, syntax, and tone which could indicate these “Employers” are all from the same source. Although not shown here, data revealed each posting had a small photo attached to the job description which included a single female smiling in a warm setting. Obvious indications stem from the Employer names as well; i.e. first word is a descriptive adjective, all capital letters, “A” for “article(s)” at the end. Other indicators are the lack of Employer details and communications to Writers without sender names at bottom of messages. ActivePerception is highly confident the source may be looking to data mine personal information such as Social Security numbers, Driver’s Licenses information, photos, addresses, and other information only for Identity Theft purposes.
It is not uncommon for U.S. based Employers to request personal information for employment. Freelance Writer platforms like and others, however, provide a cyber battlespace for potential Identity Theft.
A separate investigation revealed Employers taking on Writers for work, work being completed by the Writers, and Employers failing to pay.  These Employers seemed to stem from Chinese or other foreign article/blog writing mills where the Employer accepts a (or other Freelance Writer platform) Writer, promises to pay an above average price-per-article, does not pay and when questioned by the Writer, the Employer dumps the Writer after work has been received.
At the time of this report,’s Terms and Services do not mention a W9 as the Writer had thought but does mention 1099 services. maintains the position they will not let Writers know any Employer information which clearly indicates, like other platforms, protects the Employer, not the legitimate Writer looking for paid work. states to Writers who complain about Employer legitimacy that the only way Writers can protect themselves is by communicating through their profile. In our case study, the Writer was communicating solely through with the belief vets Employers to protect the Writer. responded by also stating communication through Writers’ profiles leave a “paper trail” for Administrators to follow in any investigation. ActivePerception is not confident this is enough security for the Writer based on the ease it was to create a fake Employer profile.
Further analysis of two other Freelance Writer platforms, Writer’s Career and UpWork.comrespectively, have revealed similar results. For example,, formerly Odesk, allows Employers to post similar job postings as we have seen with Guru and, like Guru, does not vet employer legitimacy or provide protections to the freelancer in case of fraud.
Writer’s Career is actually a front company website for, which, in turn is owned by a third party company called FrogProg Limited located in Cyprus, who in turn also own TranslateShark. FrogProg boasts IT support only from Kenya, Pakistan, India, Ukraine, and Cyprus; but it is clear they seek Westerners, specifically Americans proficient in English with higher education degrees for Freelance Content Writing subgroups. Our investigation into UpWork revealed similar results of platform failure to vet Employer persons and businesses as legitimate. Investigation and analysis from revealed same results. All three investigations also indicated that the "work required by Employers” may not receive the pay they claimed if not at all.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


By: Gigi Frost
Being a professional in any industry takes a lot of effort and rigor. But being a freelancer is even more difficult. The work itself is not an issue. If you are in the freelancing arena, you already have a general consensus of what your work entails, and the type of work that you will be specializing in. The difficulty lies in trying to locate a job that will offer you a fair rate of pay for what you do. In this article, you will find how to go about preparing to find freelance work and where exactly you can find it.

The Preparation
One of the most important things that you can do as a freelancer is to be ready before you actually go looking for a gig. It does not matter whether you are trying to make ends meet, looking for simple part time work, attempting to make a change to a full time freelancer, or just a college student wanting some extra income to pay the bills. The fact is that your work is the only thing that will talk for you. Unlike a regular desk job that you have to drive and check-in to, freelance work very rarely has face-to-face panel interviews or a daily requirement for showing up in full business attire. Usually, the only thing that really matters to an employer is the scope and quality of work that a freelancer can present in their given field. Take this into consideration when building a portfolio. Understand that though this may be a limitation, it will not limit you if you do not allow it to.

Freelancing Sites
In order to help you along with your future freelance endeavors, we have developed an in-depth, comprehensive list of places that offer you some freelancing opportunities:
They claim to fame is that “millions of small businesses use Freelancer to turn their ideas into reality”. And, of course, the name says it all. Depending on what the employer needs, they offer both project-based and hourly jobs. The site also has contests that qualified freelancers can try to win. requires at least a free, basic membership to peruse and apply to employer listed jobs. Once you sign up, you can browse all the jobs that match your qualified skills, apply, and get hired.
Peer Hustle is an on-demand mobile app that distinguishes itself from many other freelancing sites by using geolocation tracking. A potential employer can get on their mobile phone and see which freelancers are available in the local area in real-time. This feature is available most localities all over the world. Peer Hustle offers immediate in-app chats and video calling, and secure escrow payments for job offers. All funds are held in escrow until the job is done and the employer is satisfied. Any employer can find a freelancer in their area in minutes.
Fiverr gives an interesting view to any freelancing job. The freelancer has a lot of creative freedom on Fiverr. Freelancers have “gigs” that they can develop, advertise, and set their own rates for. This gives the prospective employer the ability to browse and choose the product that works best for themselves. This alleviates the burden of trying to determine extra fees or negotiating a contract. It is a pretty informal, clear-cut process. What you see is what you get, price already set. There are slots for nearly every freelancing opportunity, from graphics to digital marketing, and video programming to advertising. The list goes on. Need a meme? They have got that too. It is a site saturated with professionals and beginners alike.
Based in India, Croogster gives a voice to both freelancers and employers alike. Any freelancer has the ability to offer their services with the price included. The same goes for prospective employers that have a special job that needs a certain amount of finesse. All freelancers with the matching skills can send a proposal to the client, this allows for the best cross-utilization of techniques, abilities, and job quotes. Employers can find the most suitable candidates to fit the field that needs particular attention.
Freelance software developers, designers, and finance experts have the opportunity to apply at a freelancer at Toptal. Touting that they only employ the top 3% of freelancing talent, Toptal takes every project seriously. Customers reach out to Toptal to find specific experts that can fulfill a job. Then, Toptal does the rest. They locate the most appropriate freelancer that the customer needs. There is no risk to the customer, as they do not get charged if they are not satisfied with the work. Toptal generously states, “Our experts have a proven track record with elite industry experience ensuring they can ramp up quickly”.
A graphic design freelancing site, Designhill offers clients a platform to find and hire freelance graphic designers to fit their needs. They offer the client the option of finding ready-made, predesigned logos for business and product development. Or if the client wishes for something more precise, Designhill offers a contest based design launch that gathers exclusive graphic design options from various freelancers for the client to pick from. If the design is purchased, the client retains complete ownership and full copyrights. For the freelancer, this is a great opportunity to display their talents and gather inspiration for exciting future projects. All graphic designers from around the world can create an account and apply to see have their creations possibly selected for several venues. Designhill freelancers are given the chance to tap into their brilliant imaginations.
A division of Stack Overflow, Stack Exchange is a community of experts or passionate people who have extensive knowledge of their given field. There are many highly qualified freelance developers here. Finding your way around the site takes a little work. It is not a normal freelancing site, as anyone can enter the site, make an account, and make a query. As a freelancer, it takes a bit of work to build up credibility on this site. You will not be able to immediately find work until you begin sharing knowledge and earning a reputation for being accurate. Users are able to vote on answers to display how knowledgeable the expert actually is. But once you have established yourself, you can usually earn higher rates than most other freelancing sites.
Coworks is an intuitive recruiting platform that matches freelancers to a brand or project. This means that the client can assemble a team and offer a contract to the best qualified freelancers that fit the project needs. Coworks vets every freelancer in order to hire the best. Any freelancer can sign up to build a thriving association with highly respected businesses and industry professionals. Coworks does not charge a commission. You can bring other freelancers in to collaborate on projects.
Of course, one would expect nothing less from Amazon. As the world’s leading online retailer, Amazon has another section for employment: Amazon Mechanical Turk. Amazon states, “We give businesses and developers access to an on-demand, scalable workforce”. As a freelancer, you are asked to complete HITs, Human Intelligence Tasks. You can scroll through a varied list of jobs and requests, perform the requisite work, and earn money. For the most part, the jobs listed do not require a high level of expertise. Most of the work is time consuming and the pay is low. For clients, this is an especially useful service, especially if they have an insurmountable amount of tasks and not a lot of time. Though the money is on the lower end of the pay scale, depending on your speed, it will add up. If you are just beginning to jump into the freelancing pool, this may not be a bad place to start.
Aquent is a staffing agency that hires digital and marketing professionals around the world. The client can choose from a local freelancer able to work on-site, to a remote freelancer who can deliver the work contracted with a certain timeframe. There is even an opportunity for employers to hire freelancers to work long-term positions as regular employees in their areas of focus. Aquent offers ground-breaking solutions to various employers. The freelancer is also an appreciated part of the Aquent team. Along with discovering the best talent out in the areas of digital, marketing, and technical fields, Aquent even offers skills training with free online courses.
Also known as Smashing Magazine’s Jobs, Smashing Jobs is considered an awesome portal for mainly programming and design jobs. Featured on well respected blogs around the world, Smashing Jobs offers an edge to finding the best workers for their listings. The listings on the site are simple; any freelancer is able to view them, even without signing up. There are job listings from all around the globe. They have an impressive list of companies that have used them in the past for freelancers: Yelp, Meebo, Garmin, Gameforge, Sony, etc. They also post client listings for freelance work on other sites such as Indeed, Flexjobs, and Simply Hired. This is a massive platform that no freelancer should be without.

Though the list is by no means all the freelancing available, we have attempted to cover a wide range of skills and jobs that personifies the individual freelancer. Offering services in a niche category requires a lot of forethought and knowing where to start is key. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to utilizing the skills you have and matching them with the right client or company. Do not limit yourself, it is important to remember that getting into the freelance industry may seem a daunting task, but the rewards justify the work and effort that you put into it.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


By: Gigi Frost
There are quite a few places that sell web hosting packages online. Even doing an honest side-by-side comparison is not enough to truly decide on the best web hosting option that works for your needs. Below you will find some important tips when deciding on a web hosting package.

Important Tips
Here are a few things that every person needs to consider:
  1. Purpose
What you displaying on your website? Are you looking to sell items, promote a brand, or use it as an informal platform to blog your articles? This is important to identify accurately, because it will determine the amount of money you will be spending, and the types of sites that can handle your needs.

  1. Bandwidth
This is found on the web hosting site, you should even check the fine print. You need to know how much bandwidth the site can handle from potential visitors that will be frequenting the site. Be careful to make note of extra charges on overages or limitations.

  1. Stats
Look up the uptime stats for the web host. What is the purpose of a site that crashes during certain peak hours? Don’t get yourself caught in a contract with a web host that promises an incredible deal at low prices without doing your homework first.

  1. Scripts
The most ideal host, especially for vendors, is a site that runs a secure SSL server, and is able to support most scripts: PHP, Perl, SSI, SSH, FTP, MySQL, Cron, FTP, and htaccess.

  1. Contract
Check on future options for upgrades that you may need as your site grows. Also check to see what the web host charges for renewing your site and account. Most of the time, when you purchase the rights to setting up your site, it is a one year contract. Make sure you check and see if it will cost you more in the long run, as you may end up paying even more in monthly rates for every renewal.

  1. Ease of Access
Everyone has a different level of tech knowledge. The majority of sites are relatively user friendly. You should choose a site that is easy enough for you to set up and maintain.

  1. Policies
Get a good grasp on most of the policies that govern the site; such as, refunds, cancellations, and usage limits. Understanding more now will greatly reduce nasty surprises later.

Follow the tips above and you should be able to make the most informed decision on choosing the right web host that works for you.

Friday, December 9, 2016


By: Gigi Frost

I have been involved in extensive Do-It-Yourself projects for my home. One of our largest projects was the kitchen. Of course, like everyone else, the cabinets needed to pop. My husband and I chose a silvery white paint for the surrounding cabinets and saved the drawers and cabinets under the island for an off-black, cracked pepper color. It turned out to be stunning. We had originally considered removing all the granite counters and opting for marble, but the new paint job made the counters look a little darker (which is what we were trying to go for). 

As our renovations progressed, I realized something quite  important. It never occurred to me to study kitchen faucets. I always figured that I could go to Home Depot and choose the one that look nice.

Boy, was that a mistake. 

The initial faucet I chose was done rather haphazardly and I chose an elongated, beautifully looped monstrosity. Once we installed it, the faucet sprayed water everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Unless we were planning on using it as a trickle system, there was no way that the faucet was  meant for an ordinary sink. Even though I had found it in the "household kitchen faucet" section, it was incredibly ignorant to proceed blindly into purchasing something so crucial. That's when it occurred to me, had I done the proper research to begin with, we would not have had to waste so much time and energy figuring out the obvious.

I recently published a buying guide for kitchen faucets on I researched products carefully and went through, step-by-step, every single consideration a buyer must make before purchasing a kitchen sink. I also added reviews and studies of the differences and similarities in the faucets. This gives a bare-bones look at how every person should approach faucet buying, before going out to make purchases that could potentially cause an enormous issues later down the line.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


by: Gigi Frost

Image result for robotic vacuumRobotic vacuum cleaners are some of the most intriguing, highly sought after devices on the market today. Whether you simply do not like pushing around a vacuum cleaner, or you have some type of disability that renders you incapable of using a standard vacuum, the robotic vacuum cleaner is an ultimate solution for the smallest amount of effort.

The Selection Process
When you scroll through the lists of robotic vacuums on, there some things you need to consider:
  • Flooring. Do you have hardwood, tile, or carpets? This could make a difference in which robotic vacuum works best for you.
  • Square footage. How big is your home? Obviously, a robotic vacuum cleaner will not climb stairs or travel room to room. Most are best suited for smaller areas, apartments, or studios, but there are accessories that you can use to extend the path of some robotic vacuums.
  • Barriers and pets. Do you have a lot of obstructions? Maybe you prefer the cheapest vacuums for pet hair?

Our Research
For the purpose of this article, we have evaluated the cheapest prices, at least an average of 4 or more stars from customer reviews, and ability to pick up pet hair. Here is a list of the top three recommendations that we can make based on the research that we have done on
  1. AGDA@ Robotic Vacuum Cleaner: Currently $158.88 and free shipping.
Image result for adga robotic vacuum
A great robotic vacuum cleaner for people with allergies, it picks up pet hair, dirt, dust, allergens, tiny particulates and more. It has the ability to be scheduled for up to seven cleaning sessions a week. It auto detects navigation and returns to the charging base when it’s done cleaning. One battery charge lasts up to 80 minutes.
Average stars on Amazon: 4 out of 5. Most consumers love the vacuum’s self sufficiency and battery life.

  1. FINE DRAGON Robot Sweeper: Currently $78.00 and free shipping.
FINE DRAGON Robot Sweeper Automatic Floor Cleaning Robot Sweeping Robotic Machine with Portable Handle (Green)
This robotic vacuum is ideal for household environments. It has a one-hour continuous operation time and an automatic sweeping capability. Dual rotating brushes provide high efficiency which is great for pet dander. The infrared mechanisms allow the unit to avoid bumping into obstacles and making turns in advance. It is specifically designed for hard floor surfaces and at a sale price of $78.00 it’s a great buy.
Average stars on Amazon: 4 out of 5. Consumers like the strong suction for picking up dirt and hair, but there is mention of the robot potentially getting stuck from time to time.

  1. EVERTOP Robotic Vacuum Cleaner: Currently $179.90 and free shipping.
Automatic Home or Office Sweeping Cleaner for Floor Cleaning,Household Robotic Intelligent Vacuum Cleaner for Pet Hair/dirt/Daily Dust Removal, Silver with Black
This wireless cleaner has a powerful suction and works on hardwood, tile, marble and granite flooring. It has a built-in cliff sensor to keep it from falling off the stairs, and has a dual side corner brush which allows more efficiency when cleaning. There is a HEPA filter attached to the dirt container. The robot may get stuck if there are too many obstacles and it will not go under coaches or beds if the battery is low. A fully charged battery lasts approximately 30 minutes.
Average stars on Amazon: 4 out of 5. Customers love the low price and the vacuum’s ability to pick up long, thick pet hairs.

All in all, the price points and evaluations should help the savvy reader on finding the best robotic vacuum cleaner to buy on Amazon. If you are in doubt, we recommend that you start with the cheapest robot sweeper, FINE DRAGON, as it has virtually the same types of reviews and specs but at a much lower cost.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


by: Gigi Frost

Image result

A handy little app could become a giant success.
Mobile browsers have essentially become the go-to devices when shopping for the best deals online. Now, you can use WooMobify, the ideal plugin to bring shoppers and sellers even closer together through giving the user direct mobile access to the WooCommerce stores. The user friendly virtual shopping app allows any mobile user to scroll easily through multiple stores with a simple flick of a finger.

Image result for woomobify
What sets Woomobify apart from the rest:
The “Clear-cut Checkout” feature is a special design that has been researched and integrated to enhance the user’s shopping experience. When shopping through a mobile site, time is crucial. Every second that the user commits to buying a product comes with certain expectations. The Clear-cut Checkout tool is hands-down, an incredibly valuable resource when mobile shopping. The consumer will be able to detect a difference in accessibility and usability compared to other mobile plugins that do not use Clear-cut Checkout. Other mobile plugins still utilize the same thought process and steps as their desktop brands, this alienates the user when going to check-out and realizing that there are a lot more unnecessary steps in order to finalize a purchase. Even customers who may not be the most technologically inclined will not have a problem with WooMobify’s Clear-cut Checkout. Streamlined to cut out the excess effort it takes on the user’s part, it clearly wins in simplicity and versatility. A trouble-free and speedy experience, the user will be able to take advantage of the unique Clear-cut Checkout process and make a purchase with a tap of a finger.
WooMobify can be customized to fit anyone’s wants and needs without trying to push other products on the user. Any updates will sync directly with your device. Besides the one time activation cost for sellers, there will never be another fee for the life of your account. All you have to do is sign up and install plugin… It’s that simple. Create the best storefront that works for your store, and instantly access an even larger audience through the beauty of mobile technology. Woomobify can be used on multiple platforms, allowing for a maximum potential of user access.

All in all, it is not difficult to understand why the new and exciting plugin WooMobify, should be on the top of everybody’s shopping list. The smoothness and diversified methods of setting up, selling, and purchasing is now in the palm of your hands.