I work as a freelancer, alongside my regular dayjob, for several different people with all sorts of odd needs for software.
One those clients asked me to do something highly illegal. This isn't something that might be considered a privacy issue or some gray-area situation that might be a problem under certain circumstances. This is an outright scam, and if I proceed with what he is asking, a poor sod on the other end will end up losing several thousand dollars.
Usually I just ditch unethical clients, but as now he owes me money for dozens of hours I poured on one of the features for his software, and he already made it clear that he'll refuse to pay me anything if I don't help him out to conduct this scam.
This puts me in a delicate situation - I won't exactly go hungry if he doesn't pay me, but it is a rather large amount of money that I feel bad for just giving up. Worse even is that, if I refuse to do this thing for him, he'll just find someone else who doesn't mind about hurting others and the poor bloke on the other end will end up scammed nevertheless, unless I do something to prevent this from happening.
So far, my current plan is this:
- Stop working with this client ASAP. Refuse any sort of communication.
- Warn the authorities about the scam. While they didn't start scamming anyone yet, I have the paper trail that shows up the intention to do it and the step-by-step of the scamming process.
- Warn their intended targets (I have their names and contact information) that a scam like so and so may be coming their way soon-ish. This is a delicate thing - I think the authorities might be the one that could do this properly, but I have no way of knowing whether they'll do so in a timely manner and I would feel bad to see a couple families losing their savings because a wicked bloke tricked them into a fake bitcoin thing.
Is this an adequate way of dealing with this situation?
After some rather long deliberation, I checked in with a lawyer. She helped me sort the situation with the police, and what steps I needed to take in order to keep my butt safe from possible retaliation.
I provided the police with all the information I had, and they took on their own to warn up the intended targets of the scam. They assured me they would do so as quick as possible, to prevent people from using their yearly bonus (usually paid on the end of November) on anything of the sort.
For the money they owe me, I'm going to solve that on the small claims courts. My lawyer told me that it is unlikely that I'll ever see a penny from it, but that's the shot I have at the moment.
From the scammer, I didn't hear anything else. They didn't answer my e-mails about the money they owe me, and I'm not inclined to press the issue with them face-to-face.
I leave a big thank you for everyone that chimed in with this situation.