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Freelance Site Fiverr Offers Illegal Private Spying Services

Fiverr removed a number of listings after Motherboard approached the company for comment.

by Joseph Cox
Aug 26 2019, 4:32pm

Image: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Freelancer site Fiverr is where a company can hire a short term app developer, a logo designer, or someone to help with their social media accounts. Fiverr is also a site where you can buy malware to illegally spy on your spouse, pay someone to place a GPS tracker on a car, or hire an unlicensed private investigator, according to Fiverr listings.

The news highlights how the struggle to moderate content is not limited to large social networks and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Other sites, like Fiverr, also have trouble policing their platforms. Motherboard has covered extensively the harm that malware used in abusive relationships, sometimes known as spouseware, or how technology can enable stalking.

"I have undetectable spyware to monitor your cheating spouse, staffs [sic] and kids gadgets," one listing on Fiverr found by Motherboard reads. For $5, customers can apparently buy malware that will record keystrokes and websites visited, and for $400 can buy software that will allegedly steal a target's passwords and email contents. The quality of the malware on offer is unclear.

Another listing offers to "covertly deploy [a] tracking device to a vehicle."

"I will deploy a covert tracking device on a vehicle, test and report to you after 7 days with times and locations indicated by tracker. Range of deployment options," the listing reads. The listing explicitly says the tracking could be used to track a partner the customer suspects of cheating, and the seller claims to be from a company that has "specialists" in divorce matters.

"We can later provide mobile surveillance, video and photographic evidence can be provided," the listing adds.

Do you work at Fiverr? Do you know anything else about how technology is being used to abuse? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

A third seller on Fiverr offers investigation services, including for finding out if a spouse is cheating. The services offered include online investigations as well as photo or video surveillance. The Fiverr user says they are not a licensed private investigator. Motherboard found a number of other listings that offer similar services.

Fiverr removed the listings offering malware and GPS tracking after Motherboard contacted the company for comment.

"Any gigs that fall under our 'Illegal or fraudulent services' violate our terms of service by doing so. Two of the gigs you shared did violate our terms of service in this way and have been taken down, as a result," a Fiverr spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. It appears Fiverr also deleted the user accounts offering those two services.

Fiverr did not remove the unlicensed private investigator listing, however.

"The one that wasn’t removed is offering search services that come from public sources, like social media or Google searches," the spokesperson added.

Motherboard pointed out to Fiverr that the listing is also offering photo and video surveillance. The spokesperson added that Fiverr has reached out to the seller and asked them to remove that option from their service; if they don't, the service will be suspended from the site, the spokesperson said.

"We use advanced algorithms, automated tools, and filters that we are constantly updating and improving in order to actively remove services that violate our terms of use," the spokesperson said, describing how Fiverr moderates its own platform.

"We have an inhouse Trust and Safety Team who work around the clock to respond promptly to any reports of inappropriate content as well as implement extensive manual searches on the site. We encourage our community to report to us when appropriate. Building trust in our platform is very important to Fiverr and this continues to be a priority for our Trust and Safety Team and the company as a whole; we actively tackle every new issue we come across," they added.

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Tagged:
PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR
malware
abuse
fiverr
stalking
freelancing
gps tracking
abusive relationship
Spouseware