Proofreading Scam


Hi all

I have some problem with my proofreader. Basically before I start sending him any work, I have told him that I have limited budget on proofreading hence I will send him portion work instead of the whole thesis. He didn't like the idea of "reading portion" of the work and suggested that I should send him the whole thesis and pay him slowly. I rejected the idea, said no, I reiterated I only have £xxx amount of budget and that's what I am going to pay. He agreed on this term ambiguously and replied "he wil see what he could do" and that he would not spent as much time as he would normally.

I assumed he agreed to the term and sent him portion of my work, he even said that there was not much "wrong with it" and he won't charge me sensibly. The main reason that I trusted him because I have used him in the past, and he had been charging me reasonably.

Now he suddenly sent me a invoice of double the price that we have agreed. I was not happy about it and asked him to explain his charges, I also mentioned that that's not what we agreed. He was angry about it, refused to explain his charge and threatened me that if I don't pay him what he asked for, he will send our previous conversation and the work that he has done for me to the department or university.

I don't understand what university/department will do about it when they receive his email, but to be honest, I'm not afraid of it because I have proof that I have made it very clearly that I only have £xxx budget before I started the whole proofreading process, and that he refused to explain his charges clearly.

I wonder if anyone has this experience? Who can I get advice for a situation like this?

I don't mind to pay him for what he asked for if I have truly misunderstood him, but if he is just trying to bully me and intentionally charged me double the fee without a good reason, I won't just give him money like that- and I consider that a scam if he intentionally to do so.

Can anyone give me advice on this?



Well a contract is based on two parties agreeing. From what you've said, an objective person wouldn't consider that you'd agreed to these terms. It's bad that he's trying to make trouble for you in an effort to get you to pay what he believes he is owed.


Was your agreement verbal, or via email? Written documentation of what was mutually agreed upon would resolve the issue. If it was a verbal agreement, unfortunately, you really don't have much proof and should probably just pay him, and never use him again.

I don't think your university will give a toss if he was just proofreading for grammar and punctuation. If the matter escalates to the pont that you must prove it, administrators can simply compare the attachment you sent with the edited attachment he sent you. (I'm assuming you exchanged documents electronically.) If he was writing portions of the manuscript for you (which I hope wasn't the case) that's a problem.

Sorry this happened to you. I hope it all works out.


Thanks all.

It was all email communication, but the term is a little ambiguous. I told him my budget is £xxx and asked him to read whatever that is within that budget only, he was more like "I will see what I can do" and refused to answer my question directly. Now thinking of it, I think he did that purposely so that he can charge me whatever he wants. Anyway, I asked my british friends to read our emails, and they agreed that he "did sound like he has agreed to the budget term".

I think he was hoping that university would reject my work if I didn't pay him for what he asked for, as he claimed he has done the same thing to his other client before. Anyway, the correction was mostly grammar and spelling, he himself even agreed that the correction was very minor.

I suppose he does not have a case to complain to the university or the department?!

Does anyone know which department in the university might be able to handle case like this?


If there was no mutual agreement, then there's no contract. It's as simple as that.


The university won't reject your work unless it was plagiarized. They won't give a toss that he made grammatical corrections, and will care even less about your financial affairs.

You could take the matter to small claims court if you feel it's worth the time and energy, or you could cut your losses and never use him again.

Either way, the lesson, going forward, is to put contractual agreements in writing.

Good luck, and sorry you had this mess to deal with.

Avatar for Providentia

It sounds like your proofreader is a) unprofessional and b) a bully. Just because you've worked with someone in the past, it doesn't mean you have to stick with them if they don't keep their end of the bargain and respect what was agreed between you two. I've used a number of proofreaders for my papers/articles in the past (some suggested by teachers, some found online), and I had to go through five of them to find one I was truly pleased with and felt was worth the money (and this through a random google search!). Especially with the steep fees for proofreading - at least for me, as my budget is quite tight - if they're not someone you can depend on or trust, just find someone else.