First let me state that this scam isn’t being RUN by iWriter or anything like that. This scam isn’t exclusive to iWriter either. It can happen anywhere – TextBroker, odesk, Fiverr – hell, even over affiliate forums.
However I wasn’t too pleased with how iWriter handled this when I brought it up to them – so I’ll be sticking with iWriter scam when I refer to it throughout this article. I should note that I WILL continue to use them in the future – but not as much as before, and I have zero brand loyalty towards them at this time.
Now to quickly summarize first what iWriter is: it has a large pool of content writers. You post an article request on there, and set the prices and tone of the article and word count. Any of their content writers can then “claim” that article and write it for you. If you’re happy with it, you accept it and they get the money. You can ask them to rewrite it or revise it, or straight out reject it and another writer will get the article.
You can also set “favourite” writers, and hire writers exclusively. I’ll use the name “Neil” as an example because that’s the person who ran this particular scam. I use about 10 different “favourite” writers on iWriter. However Neil was the best of the bunch. He always submitted top of the line articles, and he was very fast too. It go to the point where I was sending him a large quantity of articles covering a variety of subjects and he was able to nail every one with great writing.
He honestly felt too good to be true.
And he was.
How the iWriter Scam Works:
iWriter has a rule: every article a person submits that they write must pass copyscape approval. That way you know you’re getting unique content, and you don’t need to worry about anyone simply stealing content and then sending it to you.
In theory, it’s foolproof. Sadly this is reality, not theory.
What Neil would do was simple: he would take all the article requests he could. 1000 word articles at $7.50 each? No problem for Neil. He’d snap them all up and beg for more.
Then he would turn around, and use a service such as oDesk. He would contact people on there who were writers. He would then try and work with them over Skype, as opposed to via oDesk.
When Neil had the person on Skype, he would then run them some excuse about how oDesk aren’t accepting new paypal accounts, so he can’t pay via there at the moment. However he has a job for them if they’re interested. Neil would then offer 1000 word articles for prices such as $30 or $40 each. Despite it being off oDesk, people wouldn’t be able to resist those prices. So they’d agree to do the work.
Neil would then get 5 articles off them, or however many he could, and submit them to me via iWriter. I’d approve them, and Neil would get the money. He would then stiff the person who actually wrote them, not sending them any money obviously.
So Neil was doing no actual writing himself. He was stealing the content but as it wasn’t published online anywhere yet it was obviously able to pass copyscape approval.
One thing that did impress me about this was there was more to it. Neil would run the articles through a spinner – just very slightly. It still read great – however the word changing were just slight enough that if the disgrunted writer attempted to search for the article online he’d likely be unable to find it.
Of course like any moron, Neil got lazy and cocky. He stopped doing the spinning and I was contacted by someone about it. We went through it all and discovered exactly what was going on, and managed to get the neilalonzo iWriter account banned.
This scam is very simple to pull off and as I said – it’s not exclusive to iWriter. It can be done at practically any website. So if you’re using websites like Fiverr, Textbroker etc – you’re liable to fall for this scam.
How To Avoid The iWriter Scam:
There’s no specific way to really avoid this scam unfortunately. However what you want to do is lessen the chances of this affecting you, or minimizing the damage.
For example – always use multiple people. Whether it’s for content being written, videos being made or logos designed – always mix it up if you can. And I’m not just talking about a service like iWriter – I know people on affiliate forums who many would consider trustworthy, but have ran similar scams over the years.
Whenever you are looking to use someone on a regular basis, really sit down and read their reviews or ask around about them if you can. Get an idea of who they are. If they’re public about their information etc on Facebook and so on and it looks like they value their reputation then that’s always a bonus.
Basically – be careful and don’t rely too much on one person.
How To Handle It If You’ve Been Scammed:
This is a tricky one – what do you do, if someone comes to you and accuses you of stealing their content?
Technically, you’ve did everything right. You used an escrow service. You followed the rules. They’re the ones that screwed up by going outside of a website or escrow service, and really they deserve everything they get.
But it’s tough. People are naive, and if they’re in need of money it can be quite a tricky subject. If they’re wanting money and are getting offered $20-$40 for a 1000 word article – well, it’s tough to turn that down. Especially if they’ve had previous positive experiences.
I’d say it’s totally up to you, and in my opinion you’re completely in the right to tell them you did everything right, and there’s nothing you can do.
Personally, I’ve went two routes as this has cropped up a few times, and it always depends on how they’ve approached me. In some cases, after getting complete proof that they were scammed, I’ve given them the money I paid the scammer. It’s not as much as they were expecting but they’ve been very happy to get SOMETHING from the work they did. I”ve went that route only when I am sure they were scammed, they’re not trying to run a scam on me, and they’ve handled it in a polite and professional manner.
I’ve also told some people to get stuffed. I’ve tried to explain to them that I’m not the bad guy but instead of believe that they’ve just continued to go mental at me, throw crazy accusations and threaten me. Those are the people I take great delight in telling them where to go.
It’s really up to you how you handle it.
How iWriter Handled It:
As I said above – I am not happy with how iWriter handled it. I may continue to use them in the future, but I will have no brand loyalty towards them and will always be looking at their competitors first.
I contacted them on a Sunday about it. They operate weekdays during regular business hours so they replied the next day and said they would look into it. An hour or so later, I noticed the users account was now deactivated.
However iWriter did not follow up with me at all. I asked for status updates, and asked if there was anything they would be doing to reimburse me. I’ve spent thousands of dollars there and referred a bunch of people – at the very least, I think it would’ve been a classy move by iWriter to at least refund the fees for the content I’ve paid for from that person.
Unfortunately they didn’t, and they ignored my responses.
I understand that iWriter don’t really want to get involved too much. They’re making money regardless of what happens, and I’m sure this only happens a very small percentage of the time. Of all the times I have requested articles for different users – this has only happened with 2% of users.
But their complete lack of respect in this matter, or long-term focus on customer satisfaction really left a bad taste in my mouth.
If you are looking for an alternative to iWriter, one very popular website I’d recommend is http://www.TextBroker.com.