Freelancing has become big business in the gig economy. A cornucopia of sites that connect freelancers with buyers have cropped up, offering low-cost and sometimes highly experienced workers looking to make an extra dollar during evening hours (or even moonlighting!).

Proxify, Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, Guru… too many to name here, which is the result of big demand. Freelancers often help create Web sites, fix IT problems, create content, proofread documents or manage marketing, social media and sales for SMBs.

One of the unfortunate effects of this demand is that some hackers are posing as freelancers. It’s thought that North Korea uses thousands of freelancers to help the republic earn hard currency as well as spy, infiltrate, infect, extort and sabotage businesses via their information technology systems.

Organizations have been infiltrated by both hackers and spies posing as potential employees and/or freelancers. Redbanc, the organization that runs all of Chile’s ATM interconnect links, is a prime example of how hackers can social engineer their way into a network by posing as potential employees, potential employers or as freelancers. A Redbanc employee, believing he was being interviewed for a higher paying job he found on Linked-In, was tricked into downloading a work application from the recruiter during a Skype interview. It turned out to be a malicious file.

The FBI recently put an alert warning potential employers as well as freelancers of the dangers of hiring on-line without knowing fully who the person at the other end may be.

  • As with any fraud, beware of anger, aggression or other intimidating techniques.
  • Beware of potential employees using PO Boxes, virtual addresses or forwarding addresses.
  • Beware of potential employees who refuse in-person meetings, drug tests or in-person interviews.
  • Beware of employees who refuse to enable their camera to allow live video during on-line interviews.
  • Beware of attempts to change payment transfer details than what’s on the freelancer platforms.
  • Beware of multiple on-line profiles with overlapping information, different photographs or no picture at all.
  • While some people prefer anonymity, be extra careful with people who have very little digital footprints.


Have your own HR department conduct its own due diligence aside from what is being done by the freelancer platform and/or recruitment agency. 

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