Social media influencers are all over the internet these days. They seem to have it all — the perfect life, the perfect family, and the perfect career. But in some cases, their perfect persona is just an illusion that belies a darker side. Take, for example, the following social media influencers who ran into legal trouble for malevolent crimes.
A streamer who profited from cruelty
In December 2020, Russian YouTuber Stas Reeflay (real name Stanislav Reshetnyak) locked out his girlfriend, Valentina Grigoryeva, in the subzero cold as a dare from a viewer who had paid $1,000 to carry out the twisted act. At the time of the prank, Grigoryeva was wearing only her underwear. She was also purportedly pregnant. She died of hypothermia after being out in the cold for about 15 minutes.
Causing his girlfriend’s death was already horrifying, but Reshetnyak didn’t stop there. He did something more sinister: he continued livestreaming with Grigoryeva’s dead body. With the camera still rolling — and in front of tens of thousands of viewers — he tried to revive her, to no avail. Even after telling his audience that his girlfriend was no longer breathing, he continued the livestream for nearly two more hours. He was still broadcasting when the police arrived at his house in Ivanovka to arrest him.
In 2021, Reeflay was sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter.
We have had a share of difficult clients, but we wouldn’t want to have to represent a social media influencer who takes donations in exchange for abusing someone they supposedly love.
The king of social media and social engineering scams
Hushpuppi is a social media personality known for his lavish lifestyle. He rose to prominence on Instagram, where he would often flaunt his wealth in the form of designer clothes, diamond-adorned wristwatches, luxury cars, private jets, and more.
He claimed to have earned his $20 million net worth via real estate investing, but the FBI wasn’t convinced. While it took the intelligence agency months of investigation to trace Hushpuppi’s real identity, it was finally the social media influencer’s show-off attitude that led to his arrest.
On October 12, 2018, Hushpuppi uploaded a photo of his birthday cake on Instagram. The cake was from Fendi and featured a topper of the influencer with seven Fendi shopping bags. This was a sweet treat for the FBI as it confirmed Hushpuppi’s date of birth, which allowed them to track the influencer’s visa application and his real identity.
Hushpuppi turned out to be a Nigerian named Ramon Abbas. He grew up poor, but he slowly made his way up the ladder by committing various fraud crimes online. His biggest profits came from business email compromise scams, a complex social engineering scheme that entails tricking unsuspecting employees of big companies into wiring payments or making fund transfers to fraudulent accounts.
As Abbas made more money off scams, his lifestyle became more extravagant. This is well-documented in his Instagram feed, which grew more ostentatious by the year.
In June 2020, he was arrested by the FBI in Dubai and extradited to the United States, where he is currently awaiting trial for multimillion-dollar fraud charges.
If only he had kept low-key about his lifestyle, he could still be a free man doing internet crimes today.
A man who did it for the domain
Rossi Lorathio Adams II is an American entrepreneur and internet personality. He is the founder and CEO of State Snaps, a social media platform which has been described as Snapchat for college campuses. It was a hit among college students, and as of October 2014, it had users from 250 campuses across the country.
Like any semi-famous influencer, Adams had a cult following. His followers also had a catchphrase, “Do It For State!”, a motto that he undoubtedly approved of. In fact, between 2015 and 2017, he had repeatedly tried to purchase the domain “doitforstate.com” from an Iowa resident who had registered it with GoDaddy.com. However, the domain owner refused to sell it.
So in June 2017, Adams took the matters into his own hands and enlisted the help of his cousin, Sherman Hopkins, Jr., who was a convicted felon. Adams instructed Hopkins to trespass on the home of the domain owner and threaten him with a gun until the latter gave up the domain name. The plan to take over the domain at gunpoint backfired. The victim managed to take control of Hopkins’s firearm and shoot his attacker in the chest multiple times.
Unfortunately for Hopkins, he survived the shooting and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. On the other hand, Adams was sentenced to 168 months in prison and was ordered to pay $35,000 in fees as part of his sentence.
At Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams, we prefer handling complicated cases over dealing with troubled social media influencers. If you are not part of the latter, feel free to contact our offices for any family law or personal injury concerns. Drop us a line today.