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 now faces up to two decades behind bars.
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 video has had millions of views, which may very well have netted the videographer and adventurer 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).