Other than looking for someone who'd deliver a Christmas tree to my door, I've never really looked at Craig's List. But am I the only person on the face of the earth who imagined that it was sort of a crunchy granola sort of site? I've always pictured it as a forum where a bunch of counter-cultural, Birkenstock-shod, anti-capitalists trade outgrown Snuglis for acoustic guitars. Where greens sell Volvo's with 396,000 miles on the odometer because they're going carless. Where haiku poets from Austin apartment swap with haiku poets from Cambridge.
But there's a whole lot more going on over there - all kinds of buying and selling, all kinds of trading and bartering, all kinds of sharing and caring, and all kinds of personal stuff.
And does it get any more personal than trying to find someone to kill the wife of the guy you're having an affair with?
The ad that Ann Marie Linscott posted a few months ago was innocuous enough. She was looking for someone for a "freelance job", and a few folks - assuming that this was a freelance writing gig - pinged her for a few more details.
Well, this freelance gig paid a bit better than most freelance writing jobs: $5,000.
I have no idea what the going rate for a hit is, but $5K sees pretty darned low considering the downside: prison and/or eternal damnation. Neither of those options make the price see quite worth it but, then again, it's not the sort of freelance job I'd ever consider pursuing, whatever the price. (Hey, no one could pay me enough to do a marketing lead generation program, let alone smoke someone.)
The freelancer Linscott was looking for was someone she described as a "silent assassin" to "eradicate" a woman.
Fortunately, at least three of those responding to the initial ad "notified the authorities."
Of course, Craigslist really has no culpability here - the ad wasn't for a "silent assassin" to "eradicate" someone, after all. They do try to keep it legal, and:
"Out of 550 million classified ads posted over 12 years, this is the first such incident that we're aware of," Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "But again, the ad itself was generic, and we're not a party to subsequent private e-mail communications."
Not surprisingly, the husband of the woman on the hit list is co-operating with said authorities - and I heard on the news that the wife is in hiding. When she comes out, that husband sure will have some 'splainin' to do.
This is pretty much a soup-to-nuts, cradle-to-grave "the Internet changes everything" story, as Linscott met her boyfriend online while they were taking a college course together. So they're kind of virtual campus sweethearts. Who says you can't have an authentic college experience online? (Wonder if they met at University of Phoenix.)
I did head over to Craig's List for Boston to see what freelance opportunities there were there.
Well, someone's looking for a freelance floral designer - creative "florally-oriented individual". Well, I'm creative, but I don't know how florally-oriented I am. I like flowers. And I know that an uneven number of stems is better than an even number. And that when you get a bouquet, you shouldn't plunk it in a vase, but separate all the flowers. But I don't know....
Someone wants a freelance recording engineer. No can do.
And someone who produces web content is looking for work. (I might change my listing from "web producer" to "web content writer" if I were you.)
Nothing ambiguous here. No mysterious "freelance" (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) jobs.
Certainly nothing that looks like criminal intent. (And nothing that looks all that crunchy granola, either. Maybe I have to rethink Craig's List.)