The Senior Developer Scam

John Sung Kim 4 min read

Think you found a great software developer for “cheap” on a marketplace or thru email spam? Unless you know how to code, it’s likely you’re going to get scammed. Here’s why –

There’s a wave of scammers paying experienced developers for the ability to impersonate their LinkedIn or professional profiles. It works like this:

  1. Scammers (some of them offshore outsourcing companies on marketplace websites) will pay experienced developers on LinkedIn anywhere from $200 to $600/month for the ability to share their LinkedIn account.
  2. The scammers then “sell” the experienced developer’s services to unwitting customers (usually non-technical founders or small business owners).
  3. Instead of the experienced developer actually doing the work, the scammers then have junior talent work on your project.

This scam works because many non-technical founders or small business owners want to believe that they found a $100 bill for $20 (or a $90/hour senior developer for $35/hour). It’s a natural human emotion to want to find bargains, even if it sounds illogical (the global pricing market for software engineers is incredibly efficient – how is it that you found a bargain after 4 hours on Toptal)?

Non-technical customers also don’t know how code actually works, so when they see an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) demoed by the scammers, they don’t realize that the code will break after more than 50 users, or that no company in their right mind would ever pay money to acquire this code base (which they will find out about in technical due diligence – which is always done before a big company purchases a small company). Or that there is a very high chance the app is totally insecure (as in a rookie hacker can break in and steal all your user’s info in 30 minutes).

But by the time the victims figure this out, they’re months into the process of building their app and often $20k or more into this failed project.

Because if it sounds too good to be true…

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