Updated: 4:52 p.m. (Scroll down for original post)

As I dug for answers on the identity theft issue, I came across a group that the imposter “me” was in on ODesk, and the group is based out of the Philippines. Several other American freelancers, a couple of whom I have worked with personally, were also listed in the group.

Two of them, Sally Bachetta and Angela Booth, had very negative feedback. I have seen both of these writers in action and know for sure they are not the ones who did the poor-quality work, and neither of them resides in the Philippines.

I know this because:

A. All of the writers on the list had done the work for rock-bottom, content-mill wages, and none are at that level in their careers.

B. None of the writers I am familiar with on the  list would be caught dead submitting low-quality work.

ODesk Steps In

After posting in several writers groups for advice, someone suggested that I reach out to ODesk via Facebook. I did, and within minutes, I received a call from Kristine DaCosta, ODesk’s Marketplace Quality Supervisor and a member of its Trust & Safety team.

DaCosta was very kind and  apologized profusely for the errors and let me know that she and her team will be handling the situation and that it should be resolved in a couple of days. I asked her to check the entire MJ writing group as well, since I knew for sure that at least some of the names on it were fraudulent. She agreed and said that ODesk takes fraud very seriously, and that she will make sure it’s handled.

For the record: I don’t blame ODesk for this error–the information that the fraudsters provided was in fact “real”–it just didn’t belong to them. ODesk had no way of knowing there was a problem until I reached out to them–and I didn’t know there was a problem until Meesha reached out to me. It could have happened to anyone.

I’m looking forward to a resolution, and I sincerely appreciate the efforts of Kristine DaCosta and the ODesk team as they work toward it.

Original Post: April 18, 2012 11:32 a.m.

I never thought it would happen to me, but apparently, I am the victim of identity theft. Someone has been using my identity on ODesk, a site the connects freelancers to clients seeking them. I am not an ODesk contractor, and I haven’t been an ODesk contractor, ever.

I signed up a few years ago to check it out, but chose not to get involved due to the fact that (at that time, at least), the company wanted to “watch” my desktop while I worked.

That wasn’t my thing, and I didn’t need the work, so I never actually worked with the company.

I was lucky to get an anonymous message via Google Talk today from someone named Meesha (I think) who told me that someone had been using my identity on ODesk. It seems the person offered a rate that is below minimum wage, and the client was suspicious enough to reach out to me via my website, thankfully.

I took a look at the profile and found that the imposter is using my photo and links to my website. Not only is the person using my identity, but he or she is providing horrible services in my name–“her” clients are complaining and leaving negative remarks on the fake profile.

He or she has also directly copied information from my site and is using my clips as “her” samples.  Additionally, “she” has taken a few ODesk tests and reported significantly lower scores than I would have achieved, and there are a few British spellings in the profile. For those who aren’t already aware, I’m American and wouldn’t use British spellings unless a client requested it–certainly not in a professional profile.

I immediately contacted the ODesk support via chat and was told by someone called Melanie that they would investigate. But when I repeatedly asked for a timeline on how long it would take ODesk to remove the fake profile, Melanie refused to give me any information on how long the resolution would take.

She did, however, ask me to send her proof of my identity, including a government issued ID, a “portrait” photo and a utility bill. I have no intention of submitting such personal information to a company I don’t even work for–especially one that is allowing someone to use my name fraudulently.

I am obviously incredibly frustrated and irritated by this situation, and I feel as though the clients this person scammed deserve to know what he or she has done. Below, see the transcript of the chat I had with “Melanie” via the ODesk help center.

To Meesha, thank you for pointing this out to me. To the clients who have been scammed, I ask that you report this information to the people at ODesk.

Chat Transcript

Time of chat: 4/18/2012 7:31:23 AM
Length of chat: 00:18:44
Your name: Angela Atkinson
Chatted with: Melanie
7:31 AM Melanie: Hello, Angela Atkinson. Can I help you with anything today?
7:31 AM Angela Atkinson: Someone has placed a profile with my name, photo, website info and other personal info on your site. I did not do this, and I need to have this removed because it could affect my credibility as a writer. Please advise.
7:31 AM Angela Atkinson: I need help ASAP.
7:32 AM Melanie: May I have the link to that profile please?
7:32 AM Angela Atkinson: yep
7:32 AM Angela Atkinson: https://www.odesk.com/users/Professional-Writer-Editor_~~83e896251cc7dc2a
7:32 AM Melanie: Let me check on this, can you give me a few minutes please?
7:32 AM Angela Atkinson: I am shocked and very upset–this person is getting terrible feedback from the people who are hiring him or her, and this could really affect my work.
7:32 AM Angela Atkinson: sure
7:38 AM Melanie: Thank you for waiting Angela.
7:38 AM Angela Atkinson: No problem.
7:38 AM Melanie: We will make sure to have this escalated to our Marketplace Quality Team for investigation.
7:38 AM Angela Atkinson: I need the profile to be removed as soon as possible, and I would like the clients he/she has worked with to be notified of the fraud.
7:39 AM Angela Atkinson: I cannot have this sort of thing happening in my name–this could very negatively affect my livelihood.
7:39 AM Angela Atkinson: Please let me know how quickly this will be resolved.
7:39 AM Melanie: i would also suggest that you verify your identity using your own account Angela.
7:39 AM Melanie: That way it can be proven that this is your account and the other is a fake.
7:40 AM Angela Atkinson: Ok, how can I do this? I had another account from before and couldn’t remember the password. I made one today so that I could contact you and the person who is using my identity.
7:40 AM Melanie: To verify your identity please upload a government issued ID, portrait photo and a utility bill or bank statement issued within the last 6 months.
7:40 AM Angela Atkinson: My other one was under angieeigna@charter.net
7:41 AM Melanie: We can try to retrieve that account instead and close this account.
7:41 AM Angela Atkinson: I don’t have a scanner at home. I will tell you what. I am going to post a blog post on my site (the one the fraudster is using for bait0 and include the text from this conversation.
7:41 AM Angela Atkinson: That would be fine
7:41 AM Angela Atkinson: Either way
7:41 AM Melanie: To retrieve your username and password, please go to this link.
7:41 AM Angela Atkinson: I just need it resolved immediately.
7:41 AM Melanie: https://www.odesk.com/forgot_password.php
7:42 AM Angela Atkinson: I did that already,but the email didn’t come right away.
7:42 AM Angela Atkinson: Let me see if it’s there now.
7:42 AM Melanie: Try to check the spam or junk folder for the link as well.
7:42 AM Angela Atkinson: will do
7:43 AM Angela Atkinson: Ok got it, but now can’t remember my password, lol…waiting for a reset. Bear with me.
7:44 AM Melanie: The link will help you retrieve it as well.
7:44 AM Angela Atkinson: got it
7:44 AM Angela Atkinson: i’m in
7:44 AM Melanie: Wonderful now close the new account you have.
7:44 AM Angela Atkinson: Ok, I will–the one that I actually own–but what about the fake one?
7:45 AM Angela Atkinson: here’s the one i made a few years back: https://www.odesk.com/d/profile.php
7:45 AM Angela Atkinson: oh i guess you can’t see that
7:45 AM Angela Atkinson: but you can find it under the email address.
7:45 AM Melanie: That will be investigated by our Marketplace Quality Team Angela.
7:46 AM Angela Atkinson: I need some kind of information on when this will be removed. There is a legal issue here.
7:46 AM Melanie: You will be update through the same chat ticket that I will create for this chat session.
7:47 AM Angela Atkinson: Could you please give me an idea on timeframe?
7:49 AM Angela Atkinson: This person is obviously not even American–there are British spellings in the profile. And the test scores and customer feedback are ridiculous. I need some kind of answer here. This is very serious.
7:49 AM Melanie: Unfortunately I cannot give the exact turn around time, however I will make sure that you will be updated the soonest possible time.
7:50 AM Angela Atkinson: No problem. Please note that this conversation will be published on my author site. If that’s not proof enough, I don’t know what is.
7:50 AM Angela Atkinson: Have a great day.



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