How A Fiverr Spokesman-for-Hire Became A Fortnite Meme And Got Banned In The Process

Screenshot: VoiceOverPete/Bladabladabloo, YouTube

Last week a surreal video went viral on Twitter—a man standing in front of a screen showing an aerial view from Fortnite as he proclaims in a dulcet, assertive voice:

Attention, calling all Epic Fortnite Gamers. It’s time to rise and grind. John Wick is in grave danger. Our friend is trapped in Dusty Divot, surrounded by fake defaults with no shield or weaponry. And the only one who can help is you. To save him, what he needs is your credit card number, the three numbers on the back, as well as the expiration month and date.

Be swift, gamers. You got to do it. The circle is closing and John Wick needs your assistance fast, so that he can acquire that bread—Naynay on those n00bes, and achieve another sick W. Yeah.

The statement was punctuated with a dab.

For the uninitiated, it seemed like a terrible scam aimed at vulnerable gamers. But it was actually a meme, a riff on a joke that started weeks ago in the gaming community.

The suited man is Pete Accetturo, also known as VoiceoverPete, also known as Presenter Pete Ace. Accetturo worked in sales most his life, shifted to teaching spin classes part-time, then starting doing voiceover work around 2009.

For the last five years, he’s been selling his voiceover and spokesperson services through the online freelance marketplace Fiverr - producing videos ranging from real estate to e-learning to cryptocurrency to medical marijuana.

Then about a month ago, he got a request that would alter the course of his voiceover career, and transform him from a mere everyman spokesperson into a gamer meme.

“The first guy came forward - a YouTube gamer. And he said, ‘Hey, would you do this? It’s just a joke. All my friends get it. I’m not scamming anybody.’ So I check into it and I was like, ‘OK, sure, I’ll do it for you,’” Accetturo tells Gizmodo. “That’s the one that took off, got a couple million views, and then YouTube took it down.”

That video has been re-uploaded to YouTube several times. It’s a very similar monologue as the Fortnite video that went viral on Twitter last week.

“So from there,” Accetturo says, “all his buddies started placing orders, and their buddies started placing orders, and in the past month I did, oh [blows raspberry] 500 orders.”

Accetturo says a typical month of business for him was about 100 orders, which cost $US50 ($69) per clip, but over the last few weeks, he’s mostly been making different variations of the “Attention all Fortnite Gamers” video.

Some orders were weirder than others. Accetturo says he passed on any requests that included profanity. But for one video, he obliged a request for him to say “chair” 45 times.

When Accetturo films the videos, he does it in front of a green screen. He generally has no clue what people will put behind him, or what soundtrack they’ll add. Some videos look like a glimpse into the malnourished id of the internet.

“My son quipped: With memes, you can’t plan on being one—you’re picked to be one,” Accetturo says.

His son, PJ, has been helping him navigate this recent career pivot. “When your 25-year-old son looks at you and wants to participate in anything you’re doing, I say that’s a win-win,” Accetturo says. “Absolutely.”

PJ broke the bad news to his dad earlier this week, after he received several Twitter notifications that Fiverr had banned them. As the Verge first reported, meme-maker Grandayy brought attention to the matter once his VoiceoverPete order was canceled.

PJ and Accetturo posted a video showing Accetturo learning about the banning. In the video, Accetturo reads an email from a Fiverr employee explaining that their Trust and Safety team learned that he was making videos that were being used for a credit card scam.

“It’s a fake [scam]. That’s what’s funny about it,” Accetturo says in the video. “Hello! Obviously, people in legal have no sense of humour.”

A spokesperson for Fiverr sent Gizmodo a statement saying the company doesn’t discuss individual users, adding: “Any attempt to defraud or scam others is in clear violation of our terms of service and strictly prohibited. We have and will always act without delay against this type of behaviour in order to keep our marketplace safe for our community.”

The video Accetturo posted earlier this week concludes with him and his son explaining their next step. Accetturo is going to start fulfilling orders through Patreon for a slightly lower rate. And he started a Twitch channel where, among other things, he wants to play Fortnite with his fans.


Comments

    Attention, calling all Kotaku Readers. VoiceoverPete is in grave danger. t's time to upvote and whine. Our friend is trapped by the Legal Eagle squad whose humourless demeanors are sucking the fun from all they cast their gaze upon. And the only one who can help is you. To save him, what I need is your credit card number, the three numbers on the back, as well as the expiration month and date.

    Be swift, readers. You got to do it. The Eagles are swooping and VoiceoverPete needs your assistance fast, so that he can make those maymays.

      Kotaku delete this. You may be liable for fraud or damages.

    "It's just a fake bro" isn't actually a valid defence. Even as a joke, it still poses a risk of some kid or vulnerable adult actually sending credit card info by DM or something. It's the same principle as shouting fire in a crowded theatre, it doesn't matter if it was a joke, what matters is if it incited harm or committing a crime (fraud in this case, which applies whether the CC details were used or not).

    Not to suggest it should be pursued legally or anything, just that it falls on the wrong side of the line and Fiverr was right to play it defensively.

      Sure would be nice to be able to edit. I meant identity theft there, not fraud. It's identity theft whether it's used or not, fraud if it's used.

      Wow, have you ever heard of context? It's clearly a joke.

      Or are you being sarcastic? I actually am worried you're serious.

        I'm not being sarcastic, I explained that the legal liability is there whether it's a joke or not, and that's a hefty risk Fiverr justifiably isn't willing to take on.

        I'm not sure why you're so surprised, to be honest, or why you gave me a downvote. It has nothing to do with whether I think it's funny or a joke, it's about how the law applies and how that drove Fiverr's response.

        When it comes to identity theft and fraud, the law is written to protect as many people as possible, gullible or not. Of course you and I know that the call from the guy with an Indian accent talking about how your computer is mysteriously infected is a scam, but they succeed because for every 99 of us, there's that one person who falls for it. Maybe 99 people know this kind of video is a joke, but there's that always that one person who falls for it.

        Other factors are that even if the original commission says they're just using it for a joke, Fiverr (and Pete) has no way to know that's actually the case. And even if the original commission does just use it for a joke, someone else could still lift it for worse. Either way it has enough chance of coming back to Pete and to Fiverr that it makes the whole thing a liability.

        I don't care about this joke at all, and yes of course it's a joke. I'm just saying that it's not Fiverr having no sense of humour, it's about genuinely wanting to avoid something that quacks like a scam that could get them in shit in the event it actually gets used for a scam.

          This is strange to me, if he's reading/acting out a paid-request then shouldn't Fiverr take action against the requester? A modern-day shooting the messenger type-deal?

            They may have reported them to the police, we don't know.

              sigh......

              edit: um this wasn't meant to be a reply just a new comment

              Last edited 10/11/18 2:37 pm

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