So after my still developing issue, I went out trying to find some additional freelance work to help build up my portfolio and put some money away in the bank. I wanted to skip the oDesks and outsourcing sites and go for something I thought may be a bit better: Job Boards. So I checked out the 37Signals Job Board and found this post. How the brief was written scared me a little, but 37Signals charges a pretty decent amount to post a listing so I figured it was all going to be kosher. I added them to my list to contact and a few days later we spoke.

“phenomsolutions1″ messaged me with no introduction spitting out loose questions around his project. After his description of the product I informed him that doing this from the ground up would not be a inexpensive task. He informed me he had “loads of money.” After I quoted him, he quickly took that statement back and changed the scope of the project, we agreed on a price and the following conversation took place:

Do you have a merchant?
I’m sorry? For payments/my invoicing?
Credit card processing
My myself I use PayPal and invoice through FreshBooks.
I dont use paypal, or use my credit card through paypal
any other option?
Out of curiosity, why not? I will have to look into another option.
(We could run the project through oDesk.)
What if we run it through 99designs?
That seems odd.
I think I’ll pass.
Because that isn’t the way business should be done.
Why not :S
paypal isnt the end of the universe, paypal is where i lost about 4 grand last time i used it.
Like what the heck is wrong with 99designs
Because 99Designs is used for contests. There is a slew of things you could do to cancel out the process along the way.
I have to protect myself here as well.
(I’ve been screwed a number of times myself.)
I will start the contest and give you the login details for the account and you can change the passowrd and take full control.
It’s okay. I think I am going to pass though. Best of luck with your project!
fuck you
you dumb dickhole
dont fucking insult me
calling me a scammer
fucking pussy
ill fuck you up
mother fucker
How am I insulting you?
fuck you.
Fucking cunt.
you fucking insulted me
you fucking idiot.
How so?
dont fucking insult me by calling me a scammer
shut the fuck up now
I’m just protecting myself in this situation.
your name is JIM WALKER, and you type *NOD* every 3 seconds
Have a good day.
so shutup
fucking clown.

That promptly ended my bid to do any work with him or his company. Do any of you run into this type of client every once and awhile? Or worse, have any of you ever gotten burned bad by a client?

About Jim Walker:

Jim Walker is a software engineer and entrepreneur in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

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  • hackerdude

    First of all there’s nothing called as http://www.enfiresolutions.com that exists in the world and looking at this phenomsolutions1, this guy looks like a crazy a**hole who is hanging around to have gala time using this 37signals job board..F**K HIM.

  • http://aaronbrethorst.com Aaron Brethorst

    (x-posted from HN: http://news.ycombinator.org/item?id=1467151)

    Obviously the posting is still up. Have you emailed the transcript along to the folks at 37Signals? They should really pull this (or better yet append the transcript to the job posting).

  • Aaron

    wow that guy has some *passion doesn’t he? hah!

  • Anon

    Interesting, too, that the page he links to on the job listing (searched for his IM username you listed here) isn’t valid.


  • http://datawalke.com Jim Walker

    I have emailed the full transcription over to the folks at 37Signals. They informed me that they will be looking into the situation.

  • http://brennannovak.com Brennan Novak

    Yah I was burned by the guy who runs this company http://digitalstreetinc.com he hired me to do an initial branding & design/html css for his (at the time) splash page company.

    We had a real long chat on the phone and he sounded like a really upstanding, awesome, sincere nice guy to work with. He was eager to get started. I said I would get back to him in a couple days. A day later he offered to make a deposit via PayPal, which I opted not (due to the small amount of work to be done). I did the work. Helped him get it on his server. Then he said he couldn’t pay me until some check cleared. Then that check bounced. Then he needed to wait to until some large client came through… then he had to suddenly find a new place to live. It was an endless story of excuses. All the while he was really nice and seemed really sincere and 4 months later the design of his site had totally changed… I was shocked. I confronted him on the phone one day and he claimed that was a new partner who did the work all pro bono… So steer clear of Digital Street as well.

  • http://spitleaf.com Pi

    > your name is JIM WALKER, and you type *NOD* every 3 seconds

    comedy gold.

  • http://datawalke.com Jim Walker

    Thanks for the heads-up Brennan. I’m sorry to hear you got burned like that. What have you done since then to make sure things like that don’t happen to you a second time? Better choice of clients? Contracts?

  • http://mirnazim.org Mir Nazim

    Just check a few more entries at 37Signals Job Board. ‘phenomsolutions1′ is contact given in few other postings as well, but name is different every time.

    100% scammer

  • Dave

    2 things I do before embarking on any project regardless of its size. Ask for 30% upfront ( you can scale this back if its a large deal ) and ask them to sign some form of engagement/contract – I find this sorts out 95% of the douche bags. The other 5% I take the hit or chase them through legal means.
    I make note of the ones that say no and direct them to eLance.


  • http://99designs.com Lachlan Donald

    Sorry to hear about your experience, I’ve had similar conversations with scammers and they are both futile and infuriating :( Thankfully this guy showed his stripes pretty early on.

    Just wanted to drop a note and say that we put a lot of work into cracking down on these sorts of scams on 99designs.com. I’ll do my best to track down this guy and make sure he doesn’t hold any accounts on our site.

    If you have any more details that would help me, I’d really appreciate it if you’d drop me a line at lachlan@99designs.com.

    - Lachlan Donald, CTO, 99designs.com

  • http://capsule.org Thibaut Allender

    Well, I smiled because the post itself is already suspicious… Maybe my experience can tell that. Let’s analyse it a bit:

    - caps in the post title “NEEDED ASAP”. Translates to: we’re already late and probably out of budget.

    - “we will pay great ammounts” beg your pardon? Amounts of what, by the way? Certainly not money ;-)

    - “Salary is about 4000 monthly maybe more” 4000 what? if it’s russian rubles, you’re screwed :-) Even if it was dollars or euros, 4000 a month as a freelance developer is a beginner rate (or half time senior rate). Do the math… 4000 / 20 working days = 200 / day. Come one!

    - Skype as first method of contact is not professional at all.

    - Not details or CV asked for. This guy would take anyone.

    - “shivum gautama” sounds like an outsourcer name. I’m not saying every indian people in the world works for outsourcing companies and/or are scammers but it should ring a bell and you should dig a bit: google, linkedin, just to know a bit more about the guy’s background.

    - name in the email is not spelled the same : “shivom”? Looks like the guy is not already used to his fake name :-)

    HTH for your next freelancing experience!

  • Anand

    What a disaster.. I ran in to such clients atleast 3 times.. Unfortunately all were from India.. They started with simple website and then changed their requirements almost evey hour.. The “simple” job site they wanted was something like dice.com and they were very generous to increase the price of the development work for whopping (sarcastic) 25,000 INR roughly around 400 $.. There was no management like initial requirements and change requsts.. Worst was I did make very dynamic job site with lots of features like create and upload CV, CV stages and employers searching for candidates and approach, candidates applying for jobs, search terms and email schedular.. and just before going live bastard client said he wants to pull off the proejct.. and never paid me my dues… how bad is that..
    Lesson learned.. NEVER work for INDIAN clients.. They do not know what they want… and they want LOT for free or very very cheap..

  • http://www.touch-code-magazine.com Marin Todorov

    Hi Jim,

    yes unfortunately freelancing will get you together with all kind of idiots, don’t take it too hard. That’s the main difference between a good(that’s important) company to work for and to freelance – when you freelance you need to get all the crap from your customers.

    However you were totally right to be suspicious and judging by the language- phenomsolutions1 is no older than 13, so loads of money could’ve varied in between 5$ and 112$ anyway

    Cheers mate, wish you better luck next time,

  • http://www.touch-code-magazine.com Marin Todorov

    Oh just one more thing – something I do like forever and helps me a lot: I always put together a short contract and I ALWAYS put as an extra feature that I will take care to provide a testing environment for the project until it’s ready to go live. After it’s being approved and finalized – should go the most of the payment and a reminded (let’s say 25% or so) after another month running on the customer server.

    How does that help? I have my own server, which can handle all kind of PHP/MySQL etc. projects, so I setup a protected subdomain and the website itself (takes me 10minutes to do) and the projects remains there for testing until approval for the customer and the better part of the payment.

    In this situation no customer wants to bail before the end because they cannot steal what’s being already done. And scammers just don’t get involved while they cannot scam you too ..

  • http://www.tomdignan.com Tom Dignan

    Yeah I had a guy who tried to coerce me into writing a spam app for him.

    I read your post on ycombinator, I recently quit a start up due to similar exploitative conditions. I’m working on building up some freelancing clout as well. I understand you’re probably a busy guy as am I, but if you’re interested in working together on some stuff (you have my info), I mainly do android apps.

    Good luck!

  • http://37signals.com Jason Fried

    Totally uncalled for. We’re sorry you had this experience with a job posted on our site.

    We’ve emailed him asking for an explanation. I can’t imagine what he’ll say, but we’ll give him a chance to respond before removing his ads and banning him from the board.

  • http://jeremymcanally.com Jeremy McAnally

    You really should be exploiting all these eyes going to your site here. Where’s your resume? The “this guy’s crazy but you can still hire me” pitch? :)

  • http://www.issackelly.com Issac Kelly

    Well, at least this happened BEFORE you started working.

    I’ve had no solid luck with any job boards of any sort. They’re so hit and miss. I’ve had a lot of luck with referrals (90% of our business is from referrals)

  • http://datawalke.com Jim Walker

    Haha! I know. I am still working on updating it at the moment. Almost ready to do though.

  • http://www.martincrockett.com/ Martin Crockett

    Beware of bad spelling and all caps “ASAP”. ;-)

    Google “shivum gautama”. Interesting.

  • http://storypixel.com Sam Wilson

    I follow one rule religiously:

    DO NOT WORK WITH ASSHOLES (under any condition)

    Man it saves you so much time.

  • http://darrenstuart.com Darren

    Lucky escape. I always avoid getting work this way, have a look at your local businesses and see if any of their sites need a refresh. Might be a better starting point.

  • http://datawalke.com Jim Walker

    Lachlan, Thank you for your comments. I will be emailing you some additional details later today that may help you out. I have used 99Designs in the past and think it provides a great service. In all the times using it I can’t recall seeing a scam or having a bad experience.

  • http://datawalke.com Jim Walker

    Jason, Thank you for looking into the situation and reaching out to this individual. If there is anything else I can do to assist you please let me know. I spoke with Michael Berger late last week on the issue.

  • http://www.bradlanders.com Brad Landers

    Oy. Don’t sweat it, Jim. Every freelancer experiences stuff like this. You responded far more professionally than most would have. Sometimes you just have to close the window and go have a cup of coffee while you shrug it off. For every good client, there are a hundred jerks who are convinced that they have come up with the next big idea. You’ve demonstrated that you’re better than them.

  • http://darwinweb.net/ Gabe da Silveira

    I don’t have a problem working for clients with Tourettes, but I didn’t think it extended to text communications as well.

  • Jonathan

    Hilarious, the first hit on google for this guy, is this job building for the (and I kid ye not) “BlueBerry”. LOL.


    He has to be a troll. No one is that dumbbbb.

  • http://codeanthem.com/blog Amber

    Oh my god, that is ridiculous. Not trying to spam here, but I seriously just wrote about someone being an idiot on my blog. What the heck is up with the inmates running the asylum?

    I agree with PPs that you should send that to 37Signals and they should pull the ad. The only appeal of their job board is that it is “exclusive” to a certain kind of employer, but clearly this guy is off his rocker.

    Also agree that you should have your info up. Or even a: here’s what sort of a language/project I am looking for type thing.

    I thought you handled yourself well. I responded to your HN post also. It really sucks that you seem to be dealing with idiots here. Rest assured, there is a nice cushy job OR a stressful job with equity out there waiting for you, promise.

  • Paul B

    Ha… at me. I clicked on your article because my lazy eyes on sub-notebook read “I got a job on 37signals Board.” Yeah baby!! Board of Directors gig at 37signals… now we’re talk’in!

  • Pingback: Suspicious job posting on 37signals Job Board « The Eyeballer

  • Carlos A. Cabrera

    phenomsolutions1 just approached me looking for help with a WordPress gig (http://jobs.37signals.com/jobs/7129). His tone and the way he approached me felt very suspicious. I’m glad I blocked him after not accepting the offer and saved me from the insults.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9127985 Alex Cook

    My jaw just dropped! wasn’t expecting that. You definitely handled it well.

  • http://williamsnow02.wordpress.com/ Harry Wells

    There is noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made
    certain nice points in features also.

  • k Madison Moore

    Just a few weeks ago I found out that one of the designers illegally used one of my photos of one of my original paintings for a book cover contest and it was the winner. It was on 99 Designs site since last August and I had no idea until a fan told me about this. The designer won $200. and 99 got $99 for this winner.

    After contacting them they took it down immediately. Then I found out that they also sold the copyright of the cover with my work to the author that requested this project.
    So, they take my copyright photo and sold it as a copyright!

    They have stated that they will supply the author with a new copyright and will also supply me with a copy of this and also the name of the designer. Yeah right….I am still waiting. They will not give me the $300. that won because of my cover and tell me I have to get it from the designer but they won’t give me the designers name so they make this impossible. His screen name and the name he uses at 99 Designs is Daliborka, tells me nothing!

    Watch out for these people, especially artists. They will steal your work and they think that is just ok. So they are making money off the backs of artists and don’t care how they do it! Total rip offs!
    Customers should know that they be holding a copyright of an exhausting copyright!!! Don’t think this is a big deal? …check the copyright laws!

  • vignesh

    Hi,i have to learned to lot of information… it’s being approved and finalized – should go the most of the payment and a reminded (let’s say 55% or so) after another month running on the customer server..hadoop training in chennai