In April, a woman named Alexa Emerson was arrested by Canadian police for sending 83 packages of baking soda designed to look like anthrax. (As well as making several bomb threats.) All well and good — except that at the same time, a video was circulated to Canadian media outlets in which a woman who was not Alexa Emerson admitted to mailing 83 packages of baking soda designed to look like anthrax. Canadian authorities immediately began to search for the star of the video (which was “clearly scripted”), as Emerson’s trial continued. They’ve found her — and it turns out the bizarre video was just another example of the wonderful new gig economy.
Earlier this July, the Saskatoon police’s request for information about the woman in the video made its way to the woman’s brother. He told his sister, now identified as Samantha Field, who identified herself to the police, saying she regularly does jobs through Fiverr. (Fiverr, for the uninitiated, is an on-demand app for freelancers. People posts tasks and jobs and then freelancers offer their services, sometimes for as low as $5.)
Field told CTV News she was paid $35 by a user named “alexemme” to read an excerpt from alexemme’s forthcoming book, The Floppy Hat. “Thank you much for bringing my characters to life,” alexemme wrote to Field after the task was completed. (Field received a five-star review for her work.) Saskatoon police told Gizmodo, “we have touched base with the young woman but investigators plan to speak with her early next week,” so it seems like Field is likely in no real trouble. While no one has specifically identified “alexemme” as Alexa Emerson, the screen name sure is familiar.
Field is certainly not the first person to run into problems after doing a job through Fiverr. Earlier this year, infamous YouTuber PewDiePie was dropped by Disney after a series of anti-Semitic stunt videos. One of them involved hiring a pair of men, through Fiverr, to hold up a sign reading “death to all Jews.” (Fiverr is an Israeli startup.) But, hey, that’s what Fiverr is all about. Or at least that’s what it’s latest ad campaign, which features Kid Rock pointing at you like Uncle Sam, would have you believe. “DO FIRST. ASK FORGIVENESS LATER,” reads the ad copy. Maybe “READ THE FINE PRINT AND CONSIDER THE LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS FIRST” was too many words to include on a subway sign.