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Spotting Scams: Safely Freelancing from Nigeria

Last Updated on October 28, 2023


Freelancing has gained popularity in recent years as a way for individuals to work independently and have more control over their careers.

In this system, freelancers offer their skills and services to clients on a project basis, allowing them to work from anywhere and have more flexibility in their schedules.

For freelancers in Nigeria, there are unique opportunities and challenges.

The internet has made it possible for Nigerian freelancers to access clients from all around the world, expanding their reach and potential for higher-paying jobs.

However, there are also challenges such as finding reliable clients and navigating the complexities of international transactions.

One major concern for freelancers in Nigeria is the prevalence of scams in the industry.

Scammers often target freelancers by offering fake projects or promising large payments in exchange for a small upfront fee.

These scams can be financially devastating and leave freelancers feeling exploited and deceived.

It is crucial for freelancers in Nigeria to be aware of the signs of scams and take precautions to protect themselves.

This includes thoroughly researching clients before accepting projects, using secure payment methods, and trusting their instincts if something seems too good to be true.

In the rest of this post, we will explore strategies and tips for safely freelancing from Nigeria, including how to identify scams, protect personal information, and ensure payment security.

By staying informed and cautious, freelancers can minimize the risks associated with scams and thrive in the freelance industry.

Understanding Freelancing Scams

Define what constitutes a scam in the context of freelancing

A scam in the context of freelancing refers to any deceptive or fraudulent activity aimed at exploiting freelancers.

The common types of scams targeting freelancers

Phishing scams

Phishing scams involve malicious actors disguising as legitimate clients or platforms to obtain sensitive information from freelancers.

Payment scams

Payment scams occur when fraudsters trick freelancers into accepting fake payment methods or exploiting payment systems.

Job posting scams

Job posting scams involve scammers posting fake job opportunities to attract freelancers and then defrauding them.

Identity theft scams

Identity theft scams occur when scammers steal freelancers’ personal information to commit fraud or other criminal activities.

Fake client scams

Fake client scams involve scammers posing as clients, deceiving freelancers into providing services without genuine intentions to pay.

Read: Securing Freelance Gigs in Nigeria After Sign Up

Spotting Scams: Safely Freelancing from Nigeria

Red Flags: How to Spot Scams

Scams exist in every industry, including freelancing. As a freelancer in Nigeria, it is essential to be aware of the red flags that can help you spot scams and prevent falling victim to them.

By learning to recognize these warning signs, you can make safe and informed decisions about freelancing opportunities.

Provide a checklist of warning signs to look out for

  1. Poorly written job postings or communication: One common red flag is encountering job postings or communication that contain numerous grammatical errors, misspellings, or awkward sentence structures.

    Legitimate clients usually take the time to present themselves professionally and provide clear instructions.

  2. Requests for upfront fees or personal financial information: Be cautious if a potential client asks for any upfront fees or requests your personal financial information before the work begins.

    Legitimate clients will never ask for this information early in the hiring process.

  3. Unrealistically high pay offers: If an offer seems too good to be true and promises unusually high pay for relatively simple tasks, it is likely a scam.

    Research the usual rates for similar freelance work to determine if the offer is reasonable.

  4. Lack of verifiable client information: Scammers often use false identities or provide limited information about themselves and their companies.

    Verify the legitimacy of the client by conducting a thorough online search, looking for reviews or testimonials.

  5. Pressure to make quick decisions or sign contracts without thorough review: Scammers use tactics like creating a sense of urgency to pressure freelancers into making quick decisions without properly reviewing the terms and conditions.

    Take your time to read and understand any agreements before signing.

By keeping these red flags in mind, you can protect yourself from potential scams while freelancing.

Remember, a legitimate client will respect your time and skills, provide clear communication, and follow standard industry practices.

However, spotting scams is just the first step. It is equally important to know how to respond when you encounter a potential scam.

Firstly, trust your instincts. If something feels off or suspicious, it probably is. Listen to your gut and proceed with caution.

Next, conduct thorough research about the client or company.

Look for information on their website, social media accounts, and read reviews from other freelancers who have worked with them.

Read: Why Nigerians Prefer Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer

Researching Potential Clients and Employers

Share tips for researching clients and employers before engaging in freelance work

Researching potential clients and employers is crucial for freelancers to avoid scams and ensure a safe working environment.

To make informed decisions, follow these tips:

  1. Conduct a background check on the company or individual. Before accepting any freelancing opportunity, it is essential to research the potential client or employer.

    Look for information about their reputation, history, and financial stability to better understand their background.

  2. Seek reviews or testimonials from other freelancers. One of the best ways to gauge a client’s authenticity is through the experiences of fellow freelancers.

    Utilize online platforms, such as freelancing forums or social media groups, to seek feedback and reviews about the client you are considering working with.

    The experiences shared by others can provide valuable insights into a client’s reliability and payment practices.

  3. Verify the legitimacy of the company’s website or online presence. Scammers often create professional-looking websites to deceive freelancers.

    However, careful examination can reveal red flags.

    Look for clear contact information, a physical address, and a verifiable online presence.

    Genuine clients will typically have a well-maintained website and active social media profiles.

  4. Contact other freelancers who have worked with the client before. Networking with fellow freelancers can provide valuable information about a client’s reputation and work ethic.

    Reach out to freelancers who have previously collaborated with the client and ask about their experiences.

    Their honest feedback can help you assess the client’s professionalism, communication, and payment practices.

By following these tips, freelancers can minimize the risk of falling victim to scams and ensure they are engaging with legitimate clients.

Remember, thorough research is crucial when entering any freelancing agreement.

Read: Freelancer Fees: Navigating Nigerian Platform Charges

Protecting Yourself: Best Practices for Safe Freelancing

Proactive measures to minimize the risk of falling victim to scams

As a freelancer, it’s important to take proactive measures to protect yourself from scams and ensure safe freelancing experiences.

By implementing the following best practices, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to fraudulent activities:

  1. Creating a separate email address for freelance communications: Use a dedicated email address solely for your freelance work.

    This helps in organizing and filtering legitimate client correspondence while protecting your personal email from potential phishing attempts.

  2. Using secure payment platforms or escrow services: When dealing with client payments, opt for reputable and secure payment platforms or escrow services.

    These platforms often offer buyer and seller protection, ensuring that both parties are secure during transactions.

  3. Setting clear terms and conditions for projects: Clearly outline the scope of work, payment terms, and delivery expectations in a contract or agreement.

    Having explicit terms and conditions helps to mitigate misunderstandings and disputes in the future.

  4. Trusting gut instincts and avoiding questionable opportunities: If a freelance job offer seems too good to be true or raises doubts, listen to your gut instincts.

    Avoid opportunities that are vague, promise excessive rewards, or require you to provide personal or financial information upfront.

  5. Establishing contracts and requesting milestone payments: Prioritize contract agreements with clients that detail project milestones and corresponding payments.

    By breaking down payments into milestones, you can protect yourself from non-payment or incomplete work scenarios.

While these proactive measures can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to scams, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and stay updated on the latest scamming techniques.

Scammers are constantly adapting their tactics, so always be on the lookout for new red flags and warning signs.

Read: Essential Legal Tips for Freelancers Operating in Nigeria

Reporting Scams and Seeking Legal Action

Encourage reporting scams to appropriate authorities and platforms

Reporting scams is crucial in protecting oneself and others from falling victim to fraudulent activities.

By reporting scams to the appropriate authorities and platforms, we can contribute to the prevention of future scams and hold scammers accountable for their actions.

Providing information on local law enforcement agencies to contact

When encountering a scam, it is important to reach out to the local law enforcement agencies in your area.

These agencies are equipped to handle such cases and can take necessary actions to investigate and apprehend scammers.

For freelancers in Nigeria, the relevant agencies include the Nigerian Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Discussing online platforms’ reporting processes

Most freelancing platforms have dedicated reporting processes in place to address scams and fraudulent activities.

It is essential for freelancers to familiarize themselves with these reporting procedures and utilize them when encountering suspicious or fraudulent behavior.

These platforms depend on user reports to identify and take action against scammers, ultimately creating a safer environment for freelancers.

Highlighting the importance of sharing experiences and warnings within the freelancing community

One of the most effective ways to combat scams is by sharing experiences and warnings within the freelancing community.

By openly discussing encounters with scams and fraud, freelancers can help others identify warning signs, avoid potential scams, and make informed decisions.

Online forums, social media groups, and freelancing communities provide excellent platforms for sharing experiences, seeking advice, and raising awareness about scams.

In addition to reporting scams, freelancers may also consider seeking legal action to promote accountability and deter scammers.

Here are some additional steps freelancers can take:

  1. Collect evidence: Compile any evidence related to the scam, such as screenshots, emails, or chat transcripts.

    This evidence can be valuable when seeking legal action or reporting to authorities.

  2. Consult legal professionals: Seek advice from legal professionals who specialize in fraud and cybercrime.

    They can guide freelancers on the best course of action based on the specific circumstances of the scam.

  3. Pursue legal remedies: Depending on the severity and impact of the scam, freelancers may consider pursuing legal remedies, such as filing a police report, initiating civil litigation, or working with organizations that specialize in combating fraud.

  4. Join forces: In cases where multiple freelancers have been targeted by the same scammer, joining forces could strengthen the legal case.

    Collaborating with other victims and pooling resources can increase the likelihood of successfully taking legal action and recovering losses.

It is important to remember that seeking legal action can be a complex and time-consuming process.

Therefore, consulting legal professionals and weighing the potential costs and benefits is essential before proceeding.

By actively reporting scams, sharing experiences, and considering legal action, freelancers can protect themselves and contribute to the overall safety and integrity of the freelancing community.


In this blog post, we have discussed the importance of vigilance and caution while freelancing from Nigeria.

Scams are prevalent, but by following certain guidelines, freelancers can protect themselves from falling victim to fraud.

It is essential to thoroughly research clients, use secure payment methods, and trust your instincts to spot potential scams.

Always verify the legitimacy of opportunities and be cautious of exaggerated claims or unrealistic promises.

Freelancers should not hesitate to ask for referrals, seek recommendations, and avoid sharing sensitive information.

By staying vigilant and cautious, freelancers can avoid scams and build a successful freelancing career.

We encourage readers to share their experiences and tips for spotting scams in the comments section.

Together, we can create a community that supports and protects freelancers in Nigeria.

Remember, your safety and financial security are paramount, so be cautious, aware, and proactive.

Happy freelancing and stay safe!

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