Fiverr and Plagiarism

Plagiarized Content on Fiverr

Welcome to the world of Plagiarism and Fraud on Fiverr

All statements in this article are based on my personal experience, and are based solely my opinion as a journalist.

You may or may not heard about it: SEOs telling you that you can get content written through Fiverr for only 5 bucks. Sounds great as we all know that SEO is mostly about content. And content writing can be a tough, costly, and time-consuming job.

Most SEO experts probably have tried it out already to see if it’s true. As much as we’d like to believe that Fiverr is a great source for buying content, I can only repeat what some good SEOs already know: It’s too good to be true — and the reason for this is:

If you’re unlucky, most of the content you will receive from Fiverr can be plagiarized.

I know what you’re thinking — and that’s the first thing came to my mind as well when I read about Fiverr Plagiarism: I’ve used Fiverr for many years, and never had an issue.

Or: Check the content using plagiarism tools, or even copy paste some of the sentences to Google, right?

In my experience, this is wrong.

Because Fiverr SEO article writers used techniques to confuse plagiarize checks my case. If that was to happen to you, you probably wouldn’t know. I will tell you in a second how they did it, and they might do as of today 2024.

But first things first:

How Does Fiverr Work?

Ordering a gig, let’s say a content worth of 500 words, couldn’t be easier. Once you have signed up as a buyer, you can order gigs from several sellers. Usually 200-500 words are being sold for $5.

The main problem with Fiver is that the first result pages are filled with highly reviewed and recommended content writers. But what you don’t know when you use Fiverr the first time is that around 80% of these results can be the same person depending when you search for writers — more accurate the same organization.

Throughout my research and testing I was able to find out that almost all of them originated from India or African countries such as Nigeria. And don’t be fooled by their profile section where they pretend to be from all different such as Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and United States. It can be fake.

Do Writers Hack Fiverr?

Mostly using VPNs and other techniques these small posses can potentially create hundreds of accounts on Fiverr … by for example offering extremely cheap gigs they get a high number of gigs by different buyers within a short time period. This high activity usually can result in them being shown on the top positions of Fiverr — because Fiverr’s algorithm seems to be simple from what I saw. If you as a seller have lots of gigs and activities, then Fiverr looks like favoring your ranking position when people are searching for terms such as “Content Writing”.

From what I saw, estimated 70% of them received bad reviews, and only the ones with good reviews prevailed. Usually the first 20-100 gigs offered are the ones who seem to have prevailed, and that’s what you as a buyer would probably see. As these scammers constantly create new accounts I’m assuming, the ones get lost in the shuffle can be considered accepted losses for them — that’s what you would usually not see.

When I started working with “these guys”, I started to get a feel for it. I could see that they mainly used similar communication phrases.

Here is my experience:

Once I gotten familiar with my content writer and built up a relationship, I tend to order bigger gigs above $50. And this is when things got ugly. The thing is, not all the content they provided was plagiarized. That’s one of the reasons they were hard to trace in the beginning.

However, once a while I would receive tons of texts that had been copied from places such as Wikipedia and other websites. That’s how I was scammed with illegal content. And first I was not able to trace it… I’ll tell you in a second.

It got worse:

One of the groups I was able to encounter I called the “Nigeria Gang”. They all seem to have similar user names, and similar reviews. They looked like they have hundreds of accounts on Fiverr, all looked different and it was hard to see the pattern for me at first glance.

This is also very unfortunate as they give Nigeria a bad reputation. In the past I was able to work with excellent writers, highly educated and competent people from Nigeria.

However, it is basically Fiverr that allows this particular group from Nigeria to spam their network like this by basically not preventing it from happening, as far as I can judge in this situation. This should be very upsetting to all the legitimate people from Nigeria providing an honest and great work.

Same goes for all the decent and reliable workers from India and Pakistan and other countries where I also had the chance to work with and had amazing experiences… most of them not necessarily through Fiverr unfortunately.

How They Disguise Plagiarized Content

Here is what happened to me: Fraudsters can use special characters in their word documents making it impossible to trace their texts. When I opened the word document it looked legit, but all fonts were actually special characters, and I was not able to see it with programs such as Word. Even when I copy-pasted the document to WordPress, it looked like a common text. But the truth was, neither Google nor any other software were able to read it. Thus, when I copied sentences to Google or plagiarism checkers, I would not get any results — making me believe that it was unique content.

Below is the famous quote from Shakespeare’s McBeth. The first one can’t be tracked and is being used by Fiverr delinquents where Google will show you that they are no matches. The second one is the original quote and it’s not hacked. While both look exactly the same, the first one is untraceable:

1) Hacked Content:
Copy and paste this sentence to Google and you will see that there will be only no result but this article:

“st?rs, h?d? ??ur f?r?s; l?t n?t l?ght s?? my bl??k ?nd d??? d?s?r?s”

2) Legit Content:
Copy and paste this same sentence to Google and you will see that there are plenty of results:

“stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires”

That’s one of the methods how people disguise plagiarism.

In my case not only my text was plagiarized. Because, if you use things like this on your website, you most likely will be punished by Google as this is actually what we as SEOs consider ghost content and black hat. Imagine a content written all in that scrambled text. Because that first McBeth sentence will look like this to Google:

st?rs, h?d? ??ur f?r?s; l?t n?t l?ght s?? my bl??k ?nd d??? d?s?r?s

Can you Detect Fiverr Scammers?

It seems to me that Fiverr delinquents are becoming extremely skilled. One of the reason is, Fiverr in my case left the impression that they do not care, and that’s why I consider it a playground for criminals. Most of them don’t even use stock images for their portfolio pictures anymore, assuming most SEOs know exactly how to use the “Search for Google Image” feature. It shouldn’t be a problem for organized fraudsters to find unique pictures. They are getting better and better I think.

Fiverr’s No-Response-Policy?

Unfortunately, Fiverr doesn’t seem to do anything about this — nothing that I was able to witness. If you receive plagiarized content, you can open a dispute, but Fiverr did not respond in my case. I learned that I want to avoid is to order larger gigs to avoid losing money.

Does Fiverr Transfers Your Money to Fraudulent Sellers?

When I was working with Fiverr,  one of the ways Fiverr they worked was that you can ask the writer for revisions — for example when I detected plagiarized content. Which is unreasonable in my opinion, because why would you ask for a revision if you had detected fraud?

It’s like buying a piece of art from somebody, and it turns out that he forged it. Would you then ask for a revision? No, you would not, because a crook is a crook, right?. You would immediately cease all communication with this fraudster. But the revision feature was the only option I had on Fiverr — So, did Fiverr basically forced me to engage in further communications and deals with a criminal?

After asking for revision, the fraudulent sellers delivered the same fake documents a couple times. Here is what I think: Because the amount of revisions are limited to one or two… after the last revision, the order was closed successfully, and my money was transferred to the seller automatically.

Another ridiculous feature in my optinion on Fiverr was that I had 3 days to review the content, and the deal closed automatically after that. And again, my money was transferred to the seller automatically. During these 3 days I had the option to open a dispute, which did not change anything as I mentioned, as Fiverr did not respond to my dispute request.

I believe the dispute feature is there to only provide a trust element, to give buyers a false hope of security. It makes it easier to buy something when you see a “dispute” button there, right?

So basically, whatever I did, either asking for a revision or opening a dispute, the deal was closed in a couple of days, and my money was transferred already.

The small confort I got is to leave a negative review. But the seller couldn’t care less in my opinion as they seem to have hundreds of other accounts . And they might leave you a negative review as well, and you would be ending having a bad reputation towards other sellers.

Legality or Illegality of Fiverr

I’m not a lawyer, but this is what I think: Fiverr is a company located in Israel and therefore the Israeli law applies. United States or any other laws from other countries such as from Europe don’t affect them. They are not bond to any privacy laws, either, such as GDPR or CCPA or similar. Israel is not part of any other union law system. That also could make Fiverr a safe haven for sellers with criminal intentions.  Our laws simply would not apply to them, unless you live in Israel.

Working with Fiverr a while, I highly assumed that most sellers are from countries such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria and similar. And their profiles seem to be anonymous, as as they might use pseudonyms, and no real names or addresses .

Fiverr Takes No Responsibility… for Nothing At All?

I was clear from my perspective that Fiverr took no responsibility for their platform.

But the time I was using Fiverr, I was not prepared for the worst. Fiverr’s website tends do go down sometimes. That happened to me several times: It’s when the website is inaccessible. And we’re not talking about a couple minutes. The website crashed down for hours and sometimes days in my case. This is what I saw occasionally using Fiverr:
Fiverr down
Platforms tend to be down, that’s not a big deal.

Not quite right when it comes to how Fiverr handled it in my case. Fiverr was down: I had hired someone through Fiverr, and I had a 3-day-period to review their content, otherwise my money would be automatically transferred to that person. However, during the time Fiverr was down, the clock was ticking, and I was not able to review the work of other people. As you can see above, Fiverr explicitly says that during a downtime, Fiverr will act like as the site was up.

So this is what happened to me: I received work from somebody, but was not able to review it while the site was down. By the time Fiverr was up and running again, my time to review the deliverable was up: My money was automatically transferred and I could not ask for a revision.

And also have a closer look at that sentence: “Will Fiverr compensate me during long outages? Not at this time”. I assume, that alone would be illegal in all European countries , countries such as USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and many more. Any platform where transaction of goods and money is involved is responsible by law no matter what.  You can’t just say “I’m not responsible, because I say so”. Since Fiverr is located in Isreal, I don’t know the law situation there. It seems like companies like Fiverr can just reject any responsibilities. Does that mean, nothing is safe or guaranteed if you use Fiverr? It might be like trading with bitcoins. You might lose everything, you might not.

Fiverr International ltd Headquarters: Fake Again?

Is Fiverr itself a fake? What is interesting is that according to Google Maps, these are the headquarters of fiverr international ltd:

Google Streetview Image

Fiverr international ltd

However, this is how Fiverr represented in 2021 below contrary what Google Streetview had captured — it’s the same building with assumable hell of a Photoshop face-lifting:

Fake Image?

Fake Building

Not only we see a huge Fiverr logo that is not visible in the original image of Google. 

A gigantic and modern top section appears almost magically on top of that old building from all angles… which by the way also is not visible on any satellite photo of Google checked in 2021. 

What does this say about this company?

Lowest Possible Quality Workers?

Let’s sum up: a platform that doesn’t check the quality of their workers who provide gigs according to my experience. Fiverr did not respond to any complaints or whatsoever, they ignored my plagiarism emails, and who knows what else, I can only assume.

On top of that, even the workers most likely have no security and no support concluding from all the experiences I had. As you can see above, Fiverr actually states in a way that it’s just bad luck for every worker, when their platform is down.

Would you provide work on Fiverr under this circumstances if you were a high quality worker?

As a high quality provider you would seek for more professional platforms to offer your gigs. And is this exactly what is happening to Fiverr? Good workers leave the platform, leaving nothing but mostly scammers, fraudsters, or just low quality workers who have no other opportunities?

Lessons Learned

As much as we all like to get cheap content, Fiverr is a risk for me. As I said, it feels like Bitcoins. You might get scammed and lose most of your money, and you might not. There is no guarantee that it will work. And you can end up spending a lot of money before you can find someone you can trust to. There is no authority behind it that will help you with your case I think.

But the biggest risk I think I took was to publish some of the illegal content from Fiverr on a website, just to get a copyright infringement letter with a large bill, because I have been using some third-party content without knowing. In the end, that could cost me much more than the pennies I probably have saved on Fiverr.

And by the way — have you ever used Fiverr? You might want to check each content you have received and already published. You might have already been scammed.

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About the Author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. William Sen CEO and founder of blue media

William Sen has been an SEO since 2001 and is a Software Engineer since 1996, and has been working as an Associate Professor in Germany for the University of Dusseldorf and Cologne. He has been involved in developing custom SEO tools, large website and software projects. William has a PhD in Information Sciences and has worked for brands such as Expedia, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Bayer, Ford, T-Mobile and many more. He is the founder of blue media.

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Barbra 3 years ago

I just came across this article and I'm sure there is a lot of truth in there but it's not all bad. I'm a seller from Texas. I do mostly freelance writing. The quality of my work is very good and the content is always unique. I've been doing this for five years. I am constantly getting swamped with order requests and my buyers keep coming back. Maybe that's because they have figured out I'm one of the few good players left on the stage. I also occasionally buy design work for books I personally author. My latest one is from this super nice seller from Pakistan who has done an amazing job creating unique content (I know it's unique because I gave him specific instructions and pics I own to use). I have no doubt there are scammers out there, they seem to be everywhere these days. I just wanted to say there are also still some honest, hard working folks that use Fiverr and are happy with it. Have a good day.

Stephen Gbolagade 3 years ago

I stumbled on this post while searching for some information online. I'm Stephen by name and I'm from Nigeria.

I understand your point very well, but I want you to know that generalizing all sellers from Nigeria won't help. Not all sellers from Nigeria are content writers or scammers as you claimed in your article.

For Example, I joined Fiverr in 2016 and up till now (2020), I've hardly earned $5,000 in my 4 years of being active on the platform. I offer web design and on-page SEO services which I always put all my strength to deliver good work whenever I'm hired.

I can tell you that for a good 2 years, only 2 buyers hire me. Why? Because most sellers want a very cheap price and great work done, which I can't oversell and be underpaid, so, they'll choose to hire someone that will dupe them.

But yet, I'm satisfied with the little I'm earning from my sweats on Fiverr since Upwork, Freelance and other freelance marketplace are not favoring new sellers, especially Nigerians.

My point is simple;

- Not all Freelancers from Nigeria are scammers, we have some legit ones who are mostly ignored.
- Sellers always choose cheaper service instead of a quality one.

And I support you that Fiverr ranking algorithm is bad... They deranked all my gigs till date which makes me have tiny hope about earning online again.

I salute our honest writeup!

Best Regards,

Stephen Gbolagade,
A Nigerian Legit Freelancer.

Deniz 4 years ago

Very good and honest article. I would like to add that Fiverr is even worse than those horrible sellers.

I received plagiarized articles and asked the seller to cancel the order. He canceled it. But surprise, you can't get your money to your bank or Paypal account! They keep your money as a balance in their site, so you can use them in future orders. How thoughtful of them! Why would anyone want to lose more money in such a marketplace?

They refund the money, yes but only if they feel like it. I was lucky to get my $400 after 2 weeks of struggle. I would never visit their site, let alone order something.

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