I think I've been scammed by a programmer I hired


I had this brilliant startup idea for a while, and finally had some small funds to hire a programmer. It's been about two months now with no functionality results, and only design/theme drafts.

I have emailed him several times and called him with no answer for the past week. I outsourced it to a company in India. He said the company he works for is: virtualcorporates dot com and studioapp dot com.

  • Is there anyway I can recoup my funds back?
  • Can I make a complaint like the BBB we have in the US?

I am very upset and frustrated because it's funds I worked hard to do this!

Outsourcing Developers Scams

asked Nov 29 '12 at 12:13
55 points

7 Answers


I've read your last question which I supposed related to this, What can I do to be sure that progress is being made on my web application? . The answers are very solid, though you may not have opportunity to apply them on this case.

I don't think his intention is to scam you, though the fact is you are scammed. He is just dishonest, strived to take all projects he thought possible, and deliver as he like or he is able to. After he designed the UI, he may find WordPress is not able to deliver what you like and then choose to hide.

Something like BBB can't help much on your case. A possible solution is to complain about the issue to Elance where you hired this developer. He'll risk losing all of his history and pending funds in Elance if he still refuse to respond. The history records are hard to earn, so he may pay attention to this. To my knowledge, this may be the best you can do now, maybe others have a better idea.

answered Nov 29 '12 at 14:18
Billy Chan
1,179 points
  • Picking someone with a good history in the first place will avoid this in the future. – Bhargav Patel 10 years ago
  • Thanks for the input. I did find him on elance but the developer said we should not use them because they take a %. I then agreed to just pay him directly without using elance. I now know this was a mistake because at least elance could have helped somewhat and also punish him by what you just said. Thanks! – Yangt09 10 years ago


I've been in your boat: sadly, there's nothing you can do once the money's gone, especially if it's overseas.

Write it off and consider it a lesson-learned. I then came to the conclusion that you can't start an internet business if you don't know how to program. It takes about a year or so of struggling full-time to get up to speed with programming but the investment in time is well worth it! Ideas are not enough, you need to be able to program version 1 yourself or have considerable funds (ie 1Mio or more) to hire a team of programmers in-house as well as a CTO/QA person that you can trust.

answered Dec 1 '12 at 07:23
4,166 points
  • +1 for "you can't start an internet business if you don't know how to program". Though the claim is a bit strong and has many exceptions, I vote for that. – Billy Chan 10 years ago
  • Yes, it is true what you said about "ideas are not enough". I have tried to learn part-time how to code. And then also watch video's on Wordpress. Problem with learning something new is that if you dont be consistant and stop learing the material due to not having the time to learn, you then forget and takes a lot longer to complete the project. Its hard having a great ideal and just stuck in limbo land! Thanks for you input! – Yangt09 10 years ago
  • Here's what I did when I started: I grabbed about 15 books and read them cover to cover, and did every example of the books on my computer. At the beginning, it'll seems like these books don't make sense but after a while you'll start to understand how everything works together. Get books on javascript, jquery, HTML/CSS, and for server-side, I recommend you start with books on asp.net, visual studio, linq and C#. I spent 3-5 hours a day reading and doing tutorials and then 1-2 hours watching videos. Stackoverflow was a great help as well. That worked for me; it takes about a year. Good luck. – Frenchie 10 years ago
  • @Billy I'm not sure the assertion about programming is true, you could have an inside track on a specific business because you are an expert at that business with strong relationships in that field and really have a solid value proposition. Lots of people like that find a trustworthy programmer to partner with and carry their idea to fruition. I would never though do blanket outsourcing of my idea, you need a programmer who's going to be a partner with equity. Ultimately you get what you pay for. – Doug T. 10 years ago
  • @DougT. I do agree domain experts can create and have created successful internet business. But they have some limitations: 1. Technology vision. They know less than where is the boundary of technology and the team ability. I saw a competitor doing well on internet, can I make better site to excel him? Not sure. 2. Budget and risk. For small businesses domain experts need to both invest money and find good tech guy, not a easy job. Tech guys can do this in less risk. My two cents. – Billy Chan 10 years ago
  • @BillyChan: and let's keep in mind that the hardest part of internet entrepreneurship isn't knowing how to build a site (even thought as the OP's question shows and as you suggest, that is a significant hurdle) but I think the hardest part is knowing WHAT to build! – Frenchie 10 years ago


I am a victim of Virtual Corporations as well. I put an ad on elance for services they responeded along with several others. I choose them they guaranteed they could deliver I would have my site up. They found every excuse not to have my site up.

They ask you to pay a low amount to start but then it ends up being more than they said you think well I have to pay it anyways later, so you do not think too much of it. Then they say okay we pay in milestones. So you start design phase.

They push those designs out like diarrhea or they will tell you something to the effect design is not that important. We can get payment for development? then we can pay design last because development is a bigger cash out for them. Then when design phase starts you get the ideas transferred to the server you really think okay my site is coming along.

Then after all your sites are up they start asking for more money. I said no what did I look like trying to pay my site off and it is not done? At this time they make up many reasons to get you to send more money like they are 80% done, they put more people to work on your site so you can pay now it will be done in a week. They think of anything to get you for every dime.

They send you THE SAME non-functional pages with the minor changes to make it seem like work is getting done. I was blessed to meet a person who does this for a reason and when they heard everything They told me to ask for things that would prove (I otherwise would not known to ask for) the site was getting done. They refused they got so mad because i was listening TO that person and not trusting him. So then cussed me out and IT GOT REALLY UGLY. ANYWAYS....

You can get the money back if you paid via your credit card through your bank the company got us both at the same time. Did they find you via Facebook, Skype? Then told you not to pay through elance because they take too much of the fees? So you have no case with eLance but I wrote them and told them about how they go and recruit and tell people not to pay on the site to avoid fees I sent dialogue as well.

They never responded they were probably mad I let them do it but if they like it I love will never use their site again if they can not protect my privacy before I submit my job. No one should have been able to find me on SKYPE, and FACEBOOK.

If you used Paypal you can attempt to file a dispute I figure for you to **call your bank first. You do not have to pay for services you never received is what my bank told me. I told my bank I think they intended to linger this out so I would look bad when presenting my case to the bank and they could keep my money.

MY BANK SAID WHY WOULD THEY THINK THAT you paid for services never rendered. You are entitled to a refund** Virtual corp said they do not issue refunds. Told me they was keeping my money and not giving me nothing.

That prompted to me to call my bank the next day so it takes 60 days. I told the bank to not inform them of the dispute because they made threats to me. I am also getting extra documentation to support my claim to the bank about their fraudulent acts. I know they tried to have me use XOOM.COM as well, But my bank refused to use that company and refused their attempts to transfer funds out my account so i had to use paypal.

That should have been a sign for me, but OI was acting good faith. THEY WERE NOT. This company has every intention to scame you. STAY AWAY FROM TONY PAUL, NATHANIAL PAUL, OF INDIA THEY DO NOT DELIVER!! I will then tell Paypal and Xoom.com that they are frauding HARD WORKING People using their sites.

We in good faith thought since they were signed up with elance it was okay but I do not think Elance screens their contractors. Due to I know these guys practices I know they deferred you from using elance to PROTECT yourself. Please notify your bank inform them no product was delivered do not listen they will threaten you but you do have to inform them if they do not deliver by agreed upon date then you will be requesting a refund. They will tell you they do not owe you one. Then they will send you some bs that is not functional and tell you that is your back panel.

I hope no one edits this information without reading it's content so they do not defer people to the wrong reporting source or give wrong information out to people really needing assistance. we should attempt to notify reporting websites about their practices so we can get the word if anyone Google's them. I know they can get another domain but at least if will take them a while before they do. I agree we need to learn basic programming skills.

I hope this helps DO NOT COUNT THIS AS A LOST BUT A LEARNING LESSON. I may owe the bank some fees but i rather have over 2K back and have something than nothing.

answered Dec 6 '12 at 12:45
Fire Phoenix
86 points
  • Hi FirePhoenix. You are 100% correct with the names involved and the tactics they are doing to me. So you reported this to your bank about them VC not providing you the services and the bank paid you back or VC paid you back? Very frustrating for past two months with them giving me designs and pushing it back with no progress! Thanks so much for your input!!! – Yangt09 10 years ago
  • Hi. It's 2012, not 1991: can you take it easy with the ALL CAPS? Thanks. – Chelonian 10 years ago
  • I reported it to the bank per a friend THANK GOD for her and her fiancee, espicially the fiancee when he seen my pages he already knew it was a scam as he does this for a living. He is the one who told me to not file with Paypal to go to my bank and tell them I never got the services I paid for. The bank will need the dates in which the money was transferred to them. DO you have anything stating a date for the site to be completed as you will need this as proof something stating it was to be done on a date and it was not done. You bank will investigate it takes 60 days. DO NOT TIL VC!! – Fire Phoenix 10 years ago
  • Yes, I do have payment and proposal statements. I called my bank and the rep said I only have 60 days to file. Its been past 60 + 5 as of today. I understand it was just the rep and not the dispute department. You think I can still recover even past the 60 days? Also, why would the bank pay us back? Isn't it buyer beware? Also, if the bank does pay back, do they even get to recover the funds they paid us back and how? Thanks! – Yangt09 10 years ago
  • It has been 60 days since YOUR SITE was suppose to be completed? You're owed your money, you made the purchase intending to get services rendered services were not rendered so you are entitled to having your money back. tell the bank you are within your 60 days, it is not from the day you paid it was from the day services was to be rendered to you. I don't know how it all goes but I am confident I am getting my funds back. Are they wouldn't be threatening me with defaming me over the net. They are lucky they are not in America I WOULD HAVE A LAWSUIT SO FAT AGAINST THEM. – Fire Phoenix 10 years ago


It sounds like the poster above is more across the back-history than I am, but indeed if you contracted via Elance then this is the best route. Quite simply you have no chance of recovering the money otherwise.

I do strongly advise anyone building software projects to build in-house, or at least with someone you can see on a day-to-day basis. This not only means you can meet them and build up a "real" idea of who they are and what they're like, but regular meetings on software projects are important to keep track and move things along. And from a commercial / legal point of view, if they're based in your locality, you can at least enforce legal rights against them if there is ever a problem.

Good luck and hope it sorts itself out!

answered Dec 1 '12 at 07:14
Traffic Cake
139 points
  • Yes, that is very true what you are saying. Its just that we all go on price and that price does have a price to pay, being taken for our hard earned money! Thanks. – Yangt09 10 years ago


One of the best things to do before hiring programmers especially in remote is to ask referrals from network of friends, family and colleagues, that allows can assure you that the programmers you are going to hire has the skills and experienced to do the job. Another good thing to do when hiring programmers to test them first even you got them from a legit site. It helps you to reduce the risk of hiring a person who is not capable for the job.

answered Dec 5 '12 at 23:42
11 points


Know your right as a consumer. You can get your money back if you paid using a VISA/Mastercard/American Express credit/debit card. Just contact your bank (or, card issuer) for chareback transaction reversal.

If you transferred money using SWIFT transfer, you're out of luck.

answered Dec 7 '12 at 04:48
Sachin Shekhar
260 points
  • I did use my bank account. The developer told me to use Xoom.com. So payment was through Xoom.com from my checkings account. That still applies? Also, I contacted my bank today and they said I could file a dispute. But the rep said after 60 days they no longer will do. That sucks because the guy strung me along since Oct, so im a few days past the date!!! Any other suggestions when I try to talk to my bank again? Thanks! Also, you said you can get your money back, how do they "justify" it. Why would the bank pay us for our mistake/bad service (or product)? Thanks! – Yangt09 10 years ago
  • @yangt09 If you paid using your bank account, check out chargeback dispute policies of your bank. Pay with your cards next time. – Sachin Shekhar 10 years ago
  • @yangt09 `Why would the bank pay us for our mistakes?` ~> Its the general policy to encourage customers for digital shopping. Actually, banks don't pay us. They have enough powers to get money from payment gateway which takes it from merchant. – Sachin Shekhar 10 years ago
  • NO I thought the same thing TELL YOUR BANK, services were paid on a miles stone and that PRODUCT DELIVERY was after the 60 days. They should file your dispute because it was like a contract that got broken. If you build a house you have to pay up front right? It takes longer than 60 days to do. So tell them that see what they say if not call xoom too. They had me the same way, a few days past or at least I thought because the fact they said a date and I had just made it. I am so thankful but it does not matter your site is still not done and you paid for services not delivered. – Fire Phoenix 10 years ago
  • I see. Thanks FirePhoenix. How long ago with this that you dealt with these guys at Virtual Corporates? They do sting you along, with nothing to show you! Just more designs telling you to give feedback and them make payment and the whole circle again! If they getting this bad rep, why dont they shut down and create a new company name? – Yangt09 10 years ago
  • They are threatening me as we speak because I guess my bank has notified them they want the funds for the non-finished site. THIS IS NOT A COMPANY TO WORK WITH IF THEY THREATEN THEIR "CLIENTS" I will be presenting all this to my bank. I been working with them since late-Aug. email me mz.sass at gmail.com. They are mad their scam is being put out there for all to know about, they may just go ahead and do just that but I am going to notify Paypal since they want to keep threatening me. – Fire Phoenix 10 years ago
  • @FirePheonix, when they threaten you, what are they trying to do? How can they do anything to you? You did nothing wrong but try and get a service. Do you have a copy of your letter that I can send to my bank? I just received the dispute letter today in the mail and need to work on it. Thanks! – Yangt09 10 years ago


I would suggest going to your bank and reversing any payments. However, I would strongly advise anybody without programming experience to tread VERY carefully when hiring someone overseas. Yes hiring someone local may cost a bit more, but the security you have in knowing you can visit their office if need be and see they are a registered business is worth much more than anything you've saved. I've never had to hire someone before in this kind of situation, but I wouldn't part with money from someone you don't know and have no means of contact with.

answered Dec 8 '12 at 02:58
155 points

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Outsourcing Developers Scams