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Proofreaders beware: the overpayment scam is still out there

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Computer keybords scamsWe wrote an article in 2013 about an email scam that was doing the rounds at the time. It was targeting proofreaders, although apparently the general idea for the scam had been around for a while before that and has previously preyed upon other types of freelancers, too. You can read our previous article here.

Worryingly, I have now been informed by one of our advertisers (who would prefer to remain anonymous, so I’ll refer to her as ‘Nicola’) that she has been targeted by the same malicious trick TWICE in the past few weeks.

I should point out that the scammer(s) contacted Nicola by email rather than via her Find a Proofreader profile, so we don’t know whether they found her via our directory or some other channel. The important issue is that any proofreader with any form of web presence is vulnerable, so if you’re not already familiar with the overpayment scam, you need to read on!

Nicola was targeted twice in a fortnight, and probably by the same person (one claiming to be a female and the second a male, with different email addresses and different home countries). The first sent her a document and said “she” would post a cheque in advance, but as Nicola didn’t have time to take the job on, she recommended her friend, another proofreader based in the same area.

The scammer then wrote to Nicola’s friend, saying she had accidentally sent a cheque for €2,000 rather than the €200 quoted, and requested the return of the balance into her bank account. Her friend was suspicious at this point and checked the piece (which she hadn’t actually worked on at the time), and it turned out to be taken directly from the UNICEF website. She replied to the scammer with a link to the piece and that was the end of it. Not surprisingly, the cheque never arrived!

Nicola had a similar experience last week, but unfortunately she spent four hours on the job before realising that there was something funny about the four documents, on management: they were all in different styles. Nicola googled the pieces and discovered that, again, they all came from the web. She then went back to her original email from the scammer and saw that he had asked for her phone number and postal address so that he could send Nicola a cheque in advance.

The fact that this proofreader was targeted twice in a matter of weeks suggests that the scam is rife once again, and I sincerely hope that none of our other advertisers have been affected by it. The crime relies on the spammer sending the proofreader a cheque, so probably the simplest solution is to not accept cheque payments at all – or if you do, don’t commence the proofreading until you know that the customer is legit. If they send a cheque for more money than intended, you know it’s a scam!

Please reply with a comment below if you have been affected by this issue, or if you have any information that you think we need to add.

23/03/2016 |

Three Ways Online Invoicing Software Can Save Freelancers Time

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Online accountingAs a freelancer, you know better than most that time really is money. So wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to spend less time chasing payments, doing admin, or talking to your accountant, and more time concentrating on your work? Well, funnily enough, if you use online invoicing software, there is!

Before getting started, I should add a QUICK DISCLAIMER: I’m the marketing manager at Zervant, providers of online invoicing software to over 70,000 freelancers, contractors and small businesses. So of course, I can’t say that I’m 100% impartial (but I have tried to include as many objective facts and figures as possible!). So why not take five minutes to read this post and see what potential time-saving benefits invoicing software has for you?

Invoicing Software – Save Up to Seven Hours a Week

One of the first things you do when you complete a job is to invoice your customer. And the quicker you do this, the quicker you get paid. The most common method is to use a ready-made Excel invoice template. You fill in the details, print it out, send it. There’s nothing wrong with this method, it certainly gets the job done.

But it is rather inefficient.

You need to enter each and every customer’s details manually in the template. Then you need to put it in an envelope and send it, via snail mail or email attachment. It might not sound like a lot of work, but research shows all the combined paperwork that comes with working for yourself can take up to 20 hours out of your working week! Not to mention that the whole thing is also rather boring…

Which is where reason number 1 comes in. With online invoicing software, you can create an invoice at the click of a button. A couple more clicks to add your customer and your product (all of the details of which are securely stored in your account), and the whole thing can be sat on your customer’s desk in under 30 seconds.

In fact, such is the difference that in a recent survey of small businesses we found that those using online invoicing and accounting software saved up to seven hours a week!

Time Is MoneyReason number 2 is to do with the perennial bugbear of late payment. The financial implications are clear enough, but it also wastes an incredible amount of your time. Because even if you do manage to get an invoice to your customer without a hiccup, if it doesn’t get paid you’ll need to make phone calls, send email reminders and constantly check your accounts for the payment. This, on average, takes almost 130 hours a year.

But you can claim a lot of this time back with online invoicing software. When you log in to your account you can instantly see what invoices are paid, and which ones are overdue. For late payments, it’s quick and easy to send reminders. And when you mark an invoice as paid, the money will automatically be booked in your accounts.

Last, but by no means least, is time-saving reason number 3 – the accessibility of online invoicing software. Indeed, because it’s a cloud computing solution – much like Gmail, Facebook or LinkedIn – you can use it anywhere, at any time. All you need is an internet connection and you’re good to go. You’ll be able to run your business from anywhere, be it at home, at work, or on the go. So a long train journey or a cancelled appointment far from home can quickly be turned into valuable working time.

Online invoicing software is also a lot safer than only using your desktop. All your important business records and information are stored remotely. So you won’t ever have to spend time trying to recover data (which, unfortunately, might happen if you lose or break your computer). Google’s analogy for this is the difference between storing precious family jewels in a bank vault (the cloud), or in a sock stashed under a mattress in your bedroom (your desktop).

I hope that these three reasons have given you an overview of how online invoicing software can help freelancers save time. But, as with most other things in life, the best thing to do is really to see for yourself. And you can do this with a free 30-day Zervant trial.

John Hills ZervantJohn Hills is the marketing manager for Zervant, a UK-based online invoicing solution for freelancers. Check out Zervant’s website here: www.zervant.com.

06/01/2016 |

Freelance Specialist Editors

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Cactus Communications, Inc. is a pioneer in language services, serving more than 60,000 clients across 116 countries. We employ a global team of highly skilled editors who are experts in various academic fields. We’re currently looking for specialist freelance copyeditors and substantive editors.

Why this is a great opportunity

  • Flexibility to determine your schedule and work hours
  • Potential to earn USD 1200 to 4000 per month (based on regular availability)editing jobs online
  • Performance-based bonuses of up to 25% and assurance of regular work for high-quality editors
  • Learning opportunities and regular feedback on your freelance editing assignments

What you will do

  • Edit manuscripts such that the final text is in standard scientific English and is free of unclear or unidiomatic sentences
  • Adhere to job-specific instructions and format manuscripts according to the target journal when required
  • Ensure that all subject-specific conventions are followed

What you need

  • A PhD/Masters/Bachelors degree or expertise in one or more specialized subject areas in the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, healthcare, medicine and surgery, and social sciences [detailed subject-area list below]
  • Excellent English editing skill and attention to detail (prior editing experience would be great)

Cactus Communications Inc. is based in Philadelphia, USA, and offers editing, translation, medical writing, and other services to researchers, academic journals, and organizations worldwide. We serve more than 60,000 clients across 116 countries and have extensive experience engaging our global community of 800+ freelancers.

Apply now!

To apply, fill in the application form here: http://cactusglobal.edoola.com/page/ccrf/#registration_form

Detailed subject-area list

  • Physical sciences: Engineering (all disciplines), Robotics, Automobile Engineering, Controls and Systems, Electronics, Electrical Engineering, Wireless Communication, Environmental Science, Energy, Indoor Air Quality, Nuclear Physics, Analytical Chemistry, Physical/ Computational Chemistry, General Chemistry, Applied Chemistry, Electrochemistry, Nanochemistry, Materials Science, Metallurgy, Alloys, Nanomaterials, Ceramics/Glass, Materials Engineering, Engineering Geology, Ceramics, Glass, Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics, Optics, Mineralogy, Remote Sensing, Climate Science, Stratigraphy, Sedimentology, Paleontology, Geodesy, Earth Sciences
  • Life sciences: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Structural Biology, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Developmental Biology, Microbiology, Immunology, Biomaterials, Biophysics, Biostatistics, Systems Biology, Physiology, Nanobiotechnology, Genetics, Aging, Embryology, Biofuels, Food Science, Medical Laboratory Technology, Molecular Oncology, Mycology, Stem Cell Engineering, Virology, Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Toxicology, Drug Design & Development, Plant & Animal Genetics, Plant and Animal Biotechnology, Ecology, Taxonomy, Botany, Zoology, Neurosurgery, Computational Neuroscience
  • Healthcare: Cardiology, Orthopedics, Sports Medicine, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Obstetrics, Gynecology, Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation, Chemotherapy, Plastic Surgery, Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases, Public Health, Diabetes Research, Radiotherapy Planning
  • Medicine: Anatomy, Endocrinology, Dentistry, Radiology, Surgery, Medicine, Ophthalmology
  • Social sciences: Economics and Statistics (TEX editors), Psychology, Healthcare, Education, Linguistics, Literature, Archeology, Environmental Studies, Organizational Behavior, Business, and Finance
29/10/2014 |
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