AuthorTopic: Be aware of fraudulent clients.  (Read 1219 times)

Offline Dnilo

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Be aware of fraudulent clients.

on: January 24, 2019, 07:58:16 am
Hello fellow Artists,

Today I'm creating this unfortunate post, with the purpose of creating awareness of possible frauds or scams like one I went through recently, even though the amount that I was supposed to receive was not substantial, it's still a loss.

First of all, I want to tell you a bit about me; I have been working with pixel art continuously as my main and only way of income since ~2013, before that I only worked for about a year in ~2009. I have worked with lots of individuals, a couple of small startups and one large company, this last one for a bit more than 2 years.

I want to share some tips about how to avoid such situations, specially for those who are in their beginnings as freelancers.

- Always ask and find out FIRST who is the person/company you are about to work with.
- If you are working with an individual or a small team with no background always charge per small packs of assets and not after weeks of work.
- Don't fall with over enthusiastic plans for an "amazing" game, everybody has cool ideas every day. Remember, you are working FOR them, not by the sales of the game.
- Try to have a downpayment upfront (50% is good) or a contract, or both. Online contract sites like DocuSign in conjunction with email correspondence make it much easier to keep track of your agreements.
- Be professional AND respect your client, you will be treated the way you approach to your client. And the same applies to the client, usually over enthusiastic individuals with over the top cool attitude are the ones you have to stay away from.

These are some tips I can share with you from my experiences.

I also want to make you aware of the last client that ran away with my payment, so you don't fall in the same trap.

Making some mistakes myself and trusting this client I was left only with his nickname in Discord "pina_collada#0804" and some of the assets I made for him and some references:

This is his Discord Avatar:



These are the assets:








Apparently the game and/or character is going to be called Cyber Hack, and the theme of the game is about this character roaming in the cyberspace, some sort of top down or isometric action rpg.

One thing to note is that this german client was very specific about wanting his character have these THREE DOTS in the face.

If someone comes across with ANY of these references now you know what to do.

Also, if you feel like using that caped-and-hood character I made feel free to use it, it's a freebie by me.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 10:48:02 am by Dnilo »
     Discord: Dnilo #9890

Offline avidanimefan

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Re: Be aware of fraudulent clients.

Reply #1 on: January 24, 2019, 08:14:42 am
Hey bud, there's an entire area of the message board dedicated to this particular thing.
I only mention it because your pleas might be seen there better than in an area of the board like this.

Offline Dnilo

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Re: Be aware of fraudulent clients.

Reply #2 on: January 24, 2019, 09:47:37 am
Hey, thank you, I will search for that board and put it there.
     Discord: Dnilo #9890

Offline Kiana

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Re: Be aware of fraudulent clients.

Reply #3 on: January 24, 2019, 10:12:47 am
No worries, topic moved to General Discussion.  ;)

Iím sorry to hear this happened to you. If the scammer in question has an account here, please let a mod know so it can be dealt with.

These are good tips. One thing Iíd like to add is you should always try to have a downpayment upfront (50% is good) or a contract, or both. Preventative measures like these help lower your chances of being scammed, or make it easier to gain back lost finances since you can prove there was an agreement between you and the client. Online contract sites like DocuSign in conjunction with email correspondence make it much easier to keep track of your agreements. Discord can be a hotspot for scammers since messages are able to be deleted or edited freely at any time.

The images you posted arenít showing up for me - you could try hosting on Imgur instead if Dropbox is being finnicky with permissions. If theyíre ďgeneralĒ enough you can maybe consider reselling the assets in a pack on itch.io for a small amount of potential profit, or repurposing them for your personal use.
To achieve mastery is not to be able to work without thinking; rather it is to have total control of one's choices.

Offline Dnilo

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Re: Be aware of fraudulent clients.

Reply #4 on: January 24, 2019, 10:46:43 am
Thank you so much Kiana, also thank you for letting me know about the images since my gallery in the portfolios section is all based in dropbox.

I will add your tip to my list so everyone can read it there.

Sadly, this guy contacted me directly to Discord, I don't have any other way of tracking him.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 10:49:57 am by Dnilo »
     Discord: Dnilo #9890

Offline jams0988

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Re: Be aware of fraudulent clients.

Reply #5 on: March 07, 2019, 06:58:55 am
I hate when artists ask for half up front, and it might even scare me away from some of them. I've heard way more horror stories of clients getting ripped off by artists than the other way around, which makes sense: if the artist gets the money up front, they have all of the leverage at that point. Unless you give all the art to a client instead of just a watermarked preview or whatever, they have absolutely no reason not to pay you, except for if they suddenly go broke or if your work ends up not meeting their expectations at all.

I dunno. I bristle whenever I'm asked for money up front. If I'm commissioning work, it's because I want it. There's no logical reason for me not to pay for it a week or two later when it's delivered.

Sorry you got scammed, though. I wouldn't deliver finished, unwatermarked art to clients without getting paid first. I think it's a good idea to do work in small batches too, like you mentioned. This kind of stuff is why I'd never do commission work, and barely ever commission anything. Tough situations. Good luck to you!
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 07:16:27 am by jams0988 »

Offline Kiana

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Re: Be aware of fraudulent clients.

Reply #6 on: March 07, 2019, 07:24:43 am
The main difference here is that a client can dispute a payment which has been made and get their money back easily (perhaps too easily, as wrongful chargebacks are an issue artists have to face sometimes) if the artist turns out to have been a scammer, whereas an artist cannot get back any time wasted if they have been scammed. The amount of risk with no downpayment is very unequal. A case can perhaps be made that the artwork can be resold, but usually it isnít ďgeneralĒ enough or expansive enough to make back the lost time/money.

You argue that a client would have absolutely no reason not to pay you except in cases like emergencies, and while that would be true for legitimate clients, there are people who intend to get artwork, sketches, concepts, ideas, etc. for free if they can. Even if a piece is sent watermarked and at low resolution, some people are only after the pose, composition, color scheme, concept, design, or the fact that itís artwork of a particular character/subject, etc.

The safest way to have a freelance transaction without a downpayment is to have a contract signed by both parties with explicitly defined expectations (such as art delivered by x date, y pay due by z date), but many artists feel this is overkill if itís a one-off commission, and if one party breaks the contract it may be time consuming and not worth it to go through small claims court depending on how much money it is. No contract and no downpayment is not something I would recommend to any artist since it leaves you very open to unrecoverable losses.

Now, if the client is one you have worked with many times before or is generally trustworthy, you might choose to be more lax about when you ask to be paid (instead of upfront, maybe itís in a few weeks). All of this is risk management, and itís better to be safe than sorry if youíre doing business with someone you donít know much about.
To achieve mastery is not to be able to work without thinking; rather it is to have total control of one's choices.

Offline eishiya

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Re: Be aware of fraudulent clients.

Reply #7 on: March 07, 2019, 01:09:02 pm
Quote from: jams0988
I've heard way more horror stories of clients getting ripped off by artists than the other way around
Artists have entire communities devoted to sharing horror stories of unpaying clients, so from the artist's perspective, scammy clients are far more common xP It's all about the people you deal with - artists usually hire other artists from a trusted network, so they don't get to meet scammy artists as much, and art clients don't usually have art clients of their own, so they don't get to meet the scammy clients. There are bad (or at least incompetent) people on all sides.

Partial upfront payment is the only way to be safe when dealing with a client you don't know, even with a contract. Contracts are important, but the costs of enforcing them are often much greater than even the full payment would've been. It's true that artists gain more from this arrangement than clients since clients would have nothing to lose to a scammy artist if there was no downpayment, but as Kiana said, clients have the luxury of disputing a payment, while artists cannot file a dispute on their wasted time.

If you want work without upfront payment, then hire people who already trust you. If there aren't any, then you'll need to built trust with them, via respecting their payment terms.