YouTube stars who live double lives

Over the last decade or so, YouTube has gone from a place to watch cat videos to a legitimate star-making platform. Of course, much like in Hollywood, the stars of the popular video platform may not always be as innocent and fun as they appear in the videos they post. From staged pranks to, yep, staged hate crimes, here are six whacked-out incidents in which YouTube's most famous accounts have revealed their true colors.

Austin Jones

In June 2017, YouTube singer Austin Jones was arrested and charged with two counts of production of child pornography after allegedly pressuring underaged fans to send him sexually explicit videos of themselves via Facebook and iMessage. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, Jones was interviewed by Homeland Security Investigations, during which he admitted to, among other things, engaging in sexually explicit chats with the victims on Facebook, knowing they were 14 to 15 years old at the time and using the explicit videos for his own sexual pleasure. He faces a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Incidentally, about two years prior, Jones apologized on YouTube after he was accused of having underaged girls send him videos of themselves twerking. "Here's the truth: I NEVER asked them to do anything more than send a twerking video," he said at the time, according to the The Daily Beast. "Nothing EVER went beyond that."

PewDiePIe

2017 is proving to be an especially controversial year for YouTube gamer PewDiePie. In February, the The New York Times confirmed that the uber-popular Swedish star, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, had been dropped by the Disney-owned company Maker Studios after posting upwards of nine videos to YouTube featuring "anti-Semitic imagery."

Kjellberg, who has been stirring controversy for some time, would go on to apologize for the incident, which also saw YouTube distancing itself from its most-subscribed to user. "I think it's important to say something, and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes," he said, per the Times. "Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive."

And yet, that didn't stop him from falling into another scandal in September—this time, for using the N-word during a livestream of him playing the video game Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. According to Variety, the scandal prompted video game developer and Campo Santo co-founder Sean Vanaman to tweet that his company was planning to file a "DMCA takedown" of a video in which Kjellberg plays one of their games, Firewatch, as well as "any future Campo Santo games."

"I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make," Vanaman wrote in separate tweet

Calum McSwiggan

One of the strangest stories ever to involve a YouTube star came in July 2016, when British vlogger Calum McSwiggan was accused of faking his own hate crime,

According to Variety, McSwiggan originally claimed on social media that he had been beaten up by three guys after leaving a gay club near West Hollywood, adding that authorities who "should have been there to help and protect" him actually treated him "like a second class citizen."

Bizarrely, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department disputed McSwiggan's story to Variety, claiming that McSwiggan had been arrested that evening "after deputies observed him vandalizing a car" and "was then observed injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone" in his jail cell. It was then, cops say, that McSwiggan was transferred to a hospital before being released on $20,000 bail.

Sam Rader

In August 2015, Sam and Nia Rader, aka the couple behind the viral hit "Good Looking Parents Sing Disney's Frozen," found viral fame once again when they posted a video in which Sam somehow managed to surprise Nia that she was pregnant before she even knew. However, just as the video was racking up millions upon millions of views, things took a turn for the fishy when Sam and Nia posted a subsequent video announcing that Nia had miscarried.

The miscarriage video raised a number of brows, leading some to wonder whether the whole thing had been a hoax. It also led Internet sleuths to uncover some pretty unflattering dirt on Sam, who, despite being a devout Christian, father and husband, had signed up for a subscription to the cheating website Ashley Madison.

Sam confessed to his crimes, so to speak, but also claimed that the account was created before his YouTube fame happened and that he had already been forgiven by both Nia and God. So, in his mind, everything was A-OK.

And yet, it kind of wasn't. Just days after the Ashley Madison report leaked, Gawker published a report claiming Sam had been kicked out of a conference for allegedly threatening violence on one or more people. Sam quickly clarified his side of the story to People magazine; but by then, in that same "Taylor Swift isn't so innocent" kind of way, Sam's days of displaying a squeaky-clean Christian image were pretty much over.

Michael and Heather Martin

Michael and Heather Martin, of the YouTube channel "DaddyOFive," found themselves in a whole lot of trouble in the spring of 2017 after the aggressive and profanity-laced video pranks they played on their children and step-children led to allegations of child abuse and threatened to send them to the slammer.

As the controversy reached peak drama in April, Michael and Heather claimed to ABC News that the family represented in the videos were merely characters and not their true selves and that some of the videos were actually staged and acted. "They would get excited when they would get a lot of views, and it was more for shock value," Heather said of her kids. "The characters that you see on our YouTube channel [are] not a reflection of who we are … It was a character, a show. A bad show, but a show."

But that didn't do much to stop the bleeding. In May, ABC News confirmed that Michael and Heather had temporarily lost custody of two of their five children, Emma and Cody, to their birth mother. Then, in July, they were both charged with two counts of neglect of a minor and faced up to 10 years in jail. 

Although they managed to avoid jail time, they were still sentenced to five years probation for the charges. Among other things, the couple also cannot come in contact with Emma, Cody or their mother without permission from the court, per the Baltimore Sun, and "cannot post video recordings or images of Emma and Cody to social media unless it is for legitimate family purposes."

Suffice it to say, their days of posting prank videos are likely over.

Lonelygirl15

Hard as it may be to believe, kids, YouTube has actually been around for some time—or at least long enough to have a scandal that happened over a decade ago.

In this case, it was the infamous Loneygirl15, who for a good while was able to dupe her thousands of subscribers into thinking she was just your average dorky-but-still-kinda-cute girl with a webcam. Eventually, though, through schemes typically reserved for a detective movie, people discovered that, shocker, Lonelygirl15 was actually a character being portrayed by an actress with a degree from the New York Film Academy.

Of course, this being the internet, the revelation did not mark the end of Loneygirl15 for good. In fact, to mark her 10th anniversary in July 2016, she returned to the internet with a bizarre-o video in which she basically alluded to having been selected to join some type of weird-sounding cult. Which must have been another joke. We think? We hope? Ugh.