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9 social media stars charged with crimes

A cartoon style image of an online video showing a plane crash
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Social media has given a platform to everyone, turning all of us into potential content creators and potential global stars. Becoming famous no longer, necessarily, means agents, auditions, managers, TV bookings or book deals. If you make videos, record podcasts or write social media posts that capture people’s attention, you can become a household name without playing by the traditional rules.

Some social media stars take their rule-breaking too far, though. To criminal depths. These are some of the crimes a rogue batch of them have been charged with.

1. Jake Paul - Criminal trespass, unlawful assembly

YouTube sensation turned professional boxer Jake Paul certainly knows how to drum up attention. As anyone who’s seen or heard the build-ups to any of his largely disappointing fights can attest.

Along with his brother, Logan, Jake rose to fame creating sometimes controversial content but saw things tip a little too far in May 2020. He was arrested by the FBI for his perceived involvement in the looting and rioting that took place in Scottsdale, Arizona, in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

At one point, Jake Paul was facing up to 12 months in jail, but the charges didn’t stick and were later dropped. Paul, for his part, had always denied any criminal damage or theft and claimed to have been in attendance merely to document the protests.

2. Mizzy - Breaches of a criminal behaviour order

Until very recently, only TikTok users in their teens would have been able to pick 18-year-old Bacari-Bronze O'Garro out of a line-up. Now, his face is pretty recognisable, thanks to his various television and newspaper appearances.

Known as Mizzy to his fans and critics, the Londoner calls himself a ‘prankster’, but his practical jokes don’t involve whoopee cushions or flowers that squirt water. Mizzy’s videos push the limits of social acceptability, often veering into the unlawful. His most notorious stunts have seen him and his friends filming themselves pretending to steal someone’s dog, walking into random people’s houses and asking women if they ‘want to die’.

The Hackney youngster was issued with a two-year criminal behaviour order that specifically detailed that he must not 'directly or indirectly post videos on social media without the documented consent of those featured in the content'. He's also appeared in court after admitting to failing to comply with a community protection notice.

3. Trevor Jacob - Obstructing a federal investigation (after deliberately crashing a plane)

After intentionally crashing and destroying a small single-engine plane that he was flying over California's Los Padres National Forest back in 2021, pilot, skydiver, and YouTuber Trevor Jacob was sentenced to six months in prison.

Before the plane crashed, Jacob parachuted out, recording the event in a YouTube video. He originally claimed to investigators that his aircraft had lost power. However, aviation specialists and federal officials cast doubt on his story.

Later, they discovered that Jacob had made zero effort to contact air traffic control, restart his engine, or look for a secure landing spot. All things a pilot would know to do before parachuting out and abandoning the aircraft. The severity of his actions could have landed him up to two decades behind bars.

The video had almost three million views before it was removed and included a brand sponsorship, which would have netted Jacob a decent chunk of change.

4. Charles Ross - Negligence, impersonating a police officer

Floridian Charles Ross hasn’t posted a video to YouTube for a good few years now. Bad news for his 1.6 million subscribers, but good news for strangers trying to mind their own business in Tampa, the home of ‘RossCreations’.

A skateboarder with a penchant for winding people up, Ross was one of many YouTubers who saturated the online prank market a few years ago. Annoying though usually quite legal, Ross’ videos tended to involve him doing something daft in public to a stranger. However, on occasion, he picked on the wrong person.

He was just 18 when the first incident took place back in 2012. He recorded himself flipping over two police officers who were seated on a park bench. With the camera still rolling, the officers - unsurprisingly - tackled and handcuffed Ross.

That video went on to earn well over 10 million views. The joker was accused of a misdemeanour for negligence, but the charge was eventually dropped after he fulfilled the terms of his deal with the prosecution.

Ross was then charged with a crime by Sarasota County Police in 2019 after posing as a police officer in a video. It was Ross' sixth arrest in Florida, all of which were related to the exploits he carried out to attract views.

5. Trollstation - Public order offences and causing fear and provocation of violence

Londoners Dan Vahn Lee, Gomes Garcia, Daniel Jarvis, Endrit Ferizolli and Ebenezer Mensah are just some of the troupe that go by the online moniker of Trollstation. Another gaggle of prankster types, their schtick also revolved around shock tactics and baiting reactions from the public, often under the guise of being 'a social experiment'.

The group has found themselves in hot water on several occasions, such as the time they were fined just shy of £12,000 for a pitch invasion during a Tottenham Hotspur match back in 2014. Although that wasn't their most memorable brush with the law.

In July 2015, the five men pulled off a prank which the UK authorities adjudged to have gone too far. Trollstation decided to stage a practical joke where they would fake-steal paintings from The Tate Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery.

Dramatic CCTV footage depicts terrified bystanders running from the National Portrait Gallery after the men came in, wearing masks, yelling and screaming. After turning to leave the gallery with framed pieces of art (that they’d brought in with them), the men committed what appeared to be a robbery.

In pulling off the stupid prank, the Metropolitan Police decided that the group were guilty of public order offences and offences under Section 4 of the Public Order Act (causing fear and provocation of violence).

6. Ruby Franke – Aggravated child abuse

In August 2023, a 12-year-old boy climbed out the window of a house in Ivins, Utah and ran to a neighbouring property in search of food and water. He was emaciated, desperate, and displayed vicious-looking lacerations from being tied up with rope.

It turned out he was the son of acclaimed ‘mommy vlogger’ Ruby Franke, whose 8 Passengers YouTube channel about life with her six kids had over two million subscribers at its peak.

On the face of it, it was all standard stuff about cooking, schooling and domestic tomfoolery, but some viewers had felt misgivings about Ruby’s casually harsh punishments and reprimands. She mentioned withholding food to discipline the kids and one child revealed on camera that his bedroom privileges had been revoked, so he had been sleeping on a beanbag for months.

YouTube and TikTok users began to openly question Ruby Franke’s exploits, causing 8 Passengers to fall out of favour. She launched a new online parenting advice series with business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, all while keeping some of her kids in what the prosecutor at her trial described as a ‘concentration camp-like setting’. They were subjected to physical assaults, forced to work punishing schedules, and denied food. One girl was even made to jump into a cactus repeatedly.

Franke pleaded guilty to child abuse, saying, ‘I was so disorientated that I believed dark was light and right was wrong.’ Both she and Hildebrandt were jailed in February 2024 and must serve at least four years before being eligible for parole.

7. Claire Miller – Murder

Claire Miller may not have exactly been a social media megastar, but the 14-year-old from Manheim Township, Pennsylvania had a 22,000-strong following on TikTok, where she’d post herself lip-synching, fooling around with her family, and generally being a teenage girl. But behind this innocuous façade, something inexplicably terrible was brewing in Claire Miller’s mind.

Late one night in February 2021, Claire went into the bedroom of her 19-year-old sister, Helen, who was wheelchair-bound with cerebral palsy. Claire stabbed her to death with a kitchen knife, then calmly called the police to report what she’d done.

They arrived to see Claire standing in the street, in a scene eerily reminiscent of the classic horror film Halloween where a young Michael Myers is discovered outside his house after stabbing his sibling to death. In fact, Claire herself told stunned police officers, ‘I Michael Myers’d my sister.’

Later, after being handed a fast-food breakfast while in custody, she said, ‘Ooooh, McDonald’s. I'd have killed someone sooner if I knew I'd get McDonald’s.' Was this chilling nonchalance the result of what her defence lawyers described as a psychotic disorder?

The truth of what compelled her to commit such an act will probably never be fully understood, but she eventually pled ‘guilty but mentally ill’ to murder and was jailed with a minimum term of 12-and-a-half years.

8. Trey Sesler – Murder

Trey Sesler, a teenager from Waller, Texas, was a genuine social media pioneer. In 2006, when YouTube was still in its infancy, he started posting anime film reviews, along with his own short films. As ‘Mr Anime’, he soon gained a sizeable following among fellow anime fans, inspiring some to start their own channels.

In February 2012, the early influencer posted an ambiguous video titled ‘Mr Anime is planning something’, in which he said he’d be taking a break from anime reviews. The following month, the truth of what he’d been planning became horrifyingly clear, when the seemingly mild-mannered film nerd shot his mother, father and brother dead with a rifle.

Sesler was arrested soon after the massacre, and the true extent of his ghoulish fixations and ambitions came to light. He had been obsessively researching spree shooters and serial killers and had intended to commit a Columbine-style attack on his former high school. In the end, he couldn’t bring himself to go that far and decided killing his whole family was enough.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

9. Mahek Bukhari – Murder

Social media star Mahek Bukhari seemed to be living the influencer dream. The young woman from Stoke-on-Trent had close to 130,000 followers on TikTok and was making money through brand promotions on her videos about fashion and makeup. Followers also enjoyed her ‘elite’ relationship with mum Ansreen, who’d sometimes appear in the videos.

But the seeds of their downfall were sown by Ansreen having an affair with Saqib Hussain, a lad half her age. Although Ansreen had initially been flattered by the interest and enjoyed the fling, Saqib became far too attached and threatened to send evidence of the affair to her husband.

On hearing about this, Mahek decided to take action, assuring her mother that ‘I’ll soon get him jumped by guys and he won’t know what day it is.’ She planned to lure Saqib to a meeting point, where her friends would ambush him.

When Saqib and his friend Hashim Ijazuddin arrived at the car park rendezvous point late one night in February 2022, they realised something was wrong and drove away – pursued hotly by Mahek’s friends. Saqib made a frantic 999 call saying, ‘They’re trying to ram me off the road. They’re trying to kill me. I’m going to die.’

Tragically, the car crashed at a high speed, killing both Saqib and Hashim. Ansreen was sentenced to a minimum term of just over 26 years, while Mahek – described by the judge as someone whose ‘tawdry fame’ had made her ‘entirely self-obsessed’ – will be in prison for just over 31 years.