Whoever he was, it seemed that “Xander Fields” had built a whole Potemkin universe of positive-press websites that amplified made-up praise, often by made-up people, for a handful of rich folks with messy online reputations. I was now deep down in a rabbit hole but hadn’t yet landed with a satisfying thud. Who was “Xander Fields”?
I e-mailed Tom and set up a call. He was cagey about what he said but in some ways fairly up front. Metal Rabbit Media, he said, was a boutique shop for the online reputations of very wealthy people. He worked by mining the client’s history of publication and philanthropy, then pumping up the volume to drown out all else. Basic service costs $10,000 a month, Tom said, which could make Phin’s total bill, running from the first website in December 2010, nearly $300,000. (Which made me think: Just who was scamming who here?)