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Deborah Awyzio
Deborah Awyzio, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 863
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (QUT), BIT (QUT), Family Law Accredited Specialist, over 12 years experience
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I have an online freelancer from and I am in

Customer Question

I have an online freelancer from and I am in a dispute with him. It's quite a complicated situation but basically.
1. I held a contest for a design on for a prize of $2000.
2. I spoke to a guy on Skype who had submitted an entry and he said if I awarded him, he would send me back $1000, so he would only keep $1000.
3. I then awarded him and he then said "sorry, I would like to keep the full amount of $2000."
4. The dispute has gone for 2 weeks now and he has finally agreed that he will send $1000 back, but wants me to first award him the money.
5. He has sent me a legal document to sign - I can provide it to you on request.
My question is - if I agree to this legal contract and then break it, what would be the consequences?
I do not want to use his design anymore - but I want my $2000 back. I don't want to work with him after he tried to scam me. He is holding me ransom by saying he won't agree to give the money back (in an escrow dispute on freelancer) unless I sign his form.
If I sign his form, he sends me the $2000 back and I refuse to then send him $1000, what consequences would I face?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  Leon replied 7 months ago.

Good Afternoon

My name is ***** ***** I am a NSW Solicitor. Thank you for your question, and will do my best to assist you with your question. Please understand this is not legal advise Please understand this is not legal advice but a guide to assist you.

You rigged the contest?

Did people pay to enter the contest?

What were the terms and conditions of the contest?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I did NOT rig the contest.I put the contest up, the winner was said to get $2000. I had someone on my Skype that was entering the contest. They submitted several submissions.Someone else submitted a better design - I told the guy on Skype (person in dispute) that he did not win. He said please, just award it to me and I'll send you $1000 back, so you only have to pay half price for my design.I said fine that's ok. So I awarded it to him. Then on freelancer in the "handover" process where he gives me the designs - he blocked me on Skype and said "sorry I want the full amount".He tried to get the full amount on Freelancer for 2 weeks now (it has cost us about $2000 in damages having our website delayed because he broke our agreement).No they don't have to pay to enter the contest.The terms of the contest are simple - everyone submits a design and the winner gets $2000.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Please see the agreement he drew up. Quite frankly, I don't want to use his design, I want to go with the original. He tried to scam me so I don't want to give him a cent. I can talk on Skype if you like.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Actually I just saw it's extra to call you and chat, let's just do it over text.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
in this dispute we are in with freelancer - they won't split the prize. They have given me two options:1. Award the other party the full $2000
2. The funds will be permanently locked by freelancer - he won't receive money and I won't receive money.
3. The other party has to agree to let me re-select a contest winner.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Now, the person in dispute sent me that mutual agreement I sent you before. But this is unfair because he receives $1000 to let me re-select a winner.But then when I re-select a winner, I have to pay $2000 to that new winner. This means he gets $1000 for nothing, and I have to pay a new designer $2000 for a new design.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
he is basically saying "Either give me the full $2000 (break our original agreement of him sending me half back), or have the funds permanently locked in freelancer, or pay me $1000 and I will agree to let you re-select a winner".I believe this is a form of bribery.
Expert:  Leon replied 7 months ago.

Good Afternoon

If you gave the prize to a person that did not have the winning entry, because he offered to give you back $1,000.00 this seen as not complying with the rules.

Did you have any terms and condition online about the competition and when you agreed to award him the money did you have anything in writing that he would refund you the $1,000.00?

If the answer is no then it is your word against his as to what you agreed.

The agreement you sent me has no resemblance to what you have described and it appears they want you to profit by keeping $1,000.00 and force you to pay $2,000.00 to the correct winner and you are out of pocket $3,000.00 not $2,000.00

Where are they located?

Did you pay them by paypal and how long ago?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I have our Skype conversation (and he has admitted on the freelancer dispute conversation) that he agreed to send me back $1000 to win the contest.They are located in Brazil.They do not have the money yet, it is locked in Freelancer.And yes, he is making me pay $2000 to the correct winner and $1000 to him, which was not the original dispute that I have in writing.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
2/23/2016 9:34:02 AM] Dylan Tollemache: He has agreed that if he can use similarities with your design but add these kinds of improvements to every page - he will split the prize $1000 each.
[2/23/2016 9:34:08 AM] Dylan Tollemache: I think that's fair.
[2/23/2016 9:36:00 AM] HermesRM: So he's charging $ 1,000 only for the illustrations?
[2/23/2016 9:36:15 AM] Dylan Tollemache: No, the entire redesign
[2/23/2016 9:36:29 AM] Dylan Tollemache: "+" sign picture is better
[2/23/2016 9:36:36 AM] Dylan Tollemache: overall style with rectangles instead of squares is better
[2/23/2016 9:36:45 AM] Dylan Tollemache: Pattern is better - illustrations are better
[2/23/2016 9:37:01 AM] Dylan Tollemache: I think this is the only fair way. Once he is done the design will look nothing like yours really.
[2/23/2016 9:39:56 AM] HermesRM: okay, Dylan. if you prefer so. But how will you get $ 1,000?
[2/23/2016 9:40:11 AM] HermesRM: i get*
[2/23/2016 9:42:01 AM] Dylan Tollemache: I award you the project - you immediately get $2000 and I have to trust you to send me to my PayPal $1000 so I can pay the other illustrator.
[2/23/2016 9:42:31 AM] Dylan Tollemache: But - no more work is involved - only the .PSD's are required now and the other designer takes over the second half of the project redesigning all the pages re-doing illustrations
[2/23/2016 9:42:59 AM] Dylan Tollemache: I think it's the fairest way... If I was not fair - I would just say "Sorry hermes, the other designer gets $2000, we are going to use his designs"
[2/23/2016 9:44:31 AM] HermesRM: okay, Dylan.. I'll send all the screens in .psd for you? okay.. it's fair.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
This was our conversation. He submitted a design - it was nice but lacked illustrations. I said I had someone who could do illustrations but he would charge $1000.If he would send me back the $1000 after I awarded him the contest, I would award him the contest.He then said "ok, Dylan.. I'll send all screens in .psd for you? ok.. it's fair"He also said on freelancer that our original agreement was that I would award him the contest and he would send me back $1000.But then when I awarded him the prize, we got to the escrow part where I give him the $2000 and accept his designs, and he said "sorry, I'm not sending you $1000, I want the full amount" and blocked me on Skype.He lives in Brazil.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
the funds are locked on Freelancer. If I sign this form he gave me, I will get my $2000 back to award a different contest winner. But what I am asking is if I really am legally obliged to send him the $1000. He is making me to pay him $1000 to award a different contest winner, after breaking our original agreement. I am not using his designs. Like you said, this will result in me having to pay $3000 in total, which was not our original agreement.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
He lives in Brazil. If I sign this form, he releases the contest so I can select a different winner, and then I just don't send him the $1000. What potential consequences could I face? Is the worst case scenario me having to pay him the $1000 if he takes legal action?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
He also put in writing on our freelancer dispute thread:"ohmyfunsite - Mar 3, 2016 at 22:15 AEST
Dear Freelancer team, I WON THE CONTEST, signed the intellectual property transfer agreement of my entry and I SENTED ALL THE FILES TO DYLAN (ONEBED). At this time, Dylan (onebed) HAVE ALL FILES OF PROJECT (desktop and mobile version) website at fully editable .psd format. Team Freelancer, you can prove that I'm a serious person, i have 5 stars and all the feedback I received until now have great reviews and recommendations. I have overcome the fair contest and he is now trying to retain the money paid. I REPEAT, he is already in possession of all files. I trust as a serious and organized tool and has rules that must not be broken. I can prove through conversations on Skype, ONEBED suggested choosing me as the winner so that after winning the contest (AUD 2000), I WOULD HAVE TO SEND HALF THE MONEY (AUD 1000) to the ACCOUNT OF HIS COMPANY. I do not think this is a fair contest and in accordance with the rules of Freelancer."
Expert:  Leon replied 7 months ago.

Good Afternoon,

You are going to have difficulty suing him in Brazil because our courts do not have any jurisdiction

If you own up to Freelancer what happened how will that affect you?

What you have done is incorrect choosing a person based on the fact that you get back $1,000.00

Whats worse is he is in brazil and you cannot sue him.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
That is the question though, can he sue me from Brazil?Because he is agreeing to release the contest back to me if I sign his form. Then I can re-select a winner and not pay him the $1000.So in this case, it would be him trying to sue me for breaking his contract not the other way round.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I think you misunderstood the question based on your previous post.1. We made the agreement on Skype that I would award him as the contest winner if he sent back $1000.
2. I awarded him the contest.
3. He said to me, sorry I'm talking the full $2000 now.
4. I opened dispute on's escrow system saying about our agreement and that I did not want him to receive the funds.
5. Freelancer said the only options are to award him the full $2000, or we both have to agree for him to allow me to re-select a contest winner.
6. He sent me a form to sign, saying he will tell Freelancer to allow me to re-select a contest winner but I must send him $1000 through PayPal after freelancer lets me reselect a contest winner.I don't think this is fair, I will sign his form so I can re-select a contest winner, but I will not send him the $1000 on PayPal.What consequences could I face if I sign the form and just don't send him the $1000. (I will not use his designs)
Expert:  Leon replied 7 months ago.

Good Afternoon

I agree with you that it is not fair and you are out of pocket.

If you do not send him the money, he cannot do much he has to sue you here.

If he decides to hire a lawyer here then you can be sued

Otherwise there is very little that can be done. You have the same issues with him in Brazil if he does not comply.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
If he hires a lawyer here, would the maximum I have to pay be $1000? Or could I be held accountable for legal fees as well? Also, would I have much of an argument that the contract is void because it's a form of bribery to release the contest even though I will not be using his work?
Expert:  Leon replied 7 months ago.

You will pay the $1,000.00 plus the filing fee in court

Because it is a small amount legal fees would be kept to a minimum and the court sets them. It would cost him far in excess of the $1,000.00 to sue and most solicitors would not do the work.

If you are under duress fearing something will happen and you have no choice then it is void but again this would have to be decided by a court if it goes there.

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