YouTube stars who live double lives

When YouTube started out, it was basically just somewhere you'd go to watch people being pranked and cats being cute. You'll still find those types of videos in abundance today, but YouTube has evolved into a legitimate star-making platform, providing a space for musicians, vloggers, and content creators of all types to chase fame and fortune. Anyone with a camera and some charisma can become a self-made millionaire with a little luck, and that prospect is an appealing one to the creative youth of today. According to Metro, research suggests kids are now more likely to pursue careers as YouTubers than actors, but are these potential stars of the future aware of the many pressures that come with internet fame? 

Like Hollywood A-listers, the stars of YouTube may not always be as innocent and fun as they appear in the videos they post. While many viewers prefer YouTube to other media platforms because they feel like they really get to know the person they're watching, there's no guarantee the personality you see online is authentic. That's where we come in. From fake pranks to staged hate crimes, here are some whacked-out incidents in which YouTube's most famous faces revealed their true colors.

Austin Jones received inappropriate videos from teen girls

If things had gone differently for Austin Jones his name might have been getting mentioned in the same breath as Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes — two of the most famous musicians to get noticed because of YouTube. In June 2017, a 24-year-old Jones was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport after female fans came forward about videos they'd sent the singer. According to the Chicago Sun Times, two underage girls recorded sexually explicit footage for Jones, who had allegedly asked them to "prove" they were real fans. The two girls (both aged 14 at the time the videos were made) sent dozens of clips to the YouTuber, who was charged with two counts of production of child pornography — charges that could land him in prison for at least 15 years, the Sun Times reported. The criminal complaint (via Rolling Stone) stated that Jones admitted to "receiving videos from the victims, and he admitted it was for sexual pleasure." 

The bad news about Jones intensified as others began digging into his past. Reporters at the Daily Beast discovered that Jones had posted an apology video to YouTube two years prior to his arrest after he was accused of coercing underage girls into sending him videos of themselves twerking. "Here's the truth: I NEVER asked them to do anything more than send a twerking video," he claimed. "Nothing EVER went beyond that."

Lonelygirl15 had plenty of company ... and a degree

The infamous Loneygirl15, aka Bree, was able to dupe her thousands of subscribers into thinking she was just your average dorky-but-still-kinda-cute girl with a webcam. According to The New York Times, "The episodes suggested Bree was the home-schooled daughter of strictly religious parents who was able to find the time to upload video blogs of her innermost thoughts."

However, by way of schemes typically reserved for a detective movie, followers discovered that this lonesome lass was actually a character being portrayed by an actress named Jessica Rose 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 video in which she alludes to having been selected to join some type of weird-sounding cult, which may have been another joke. We think? We hope? Ugh.

Calum McSwiggan reportedly faked his own beating

In July 2016, British vlogger Calum McSwiggan claimed he'd been the victim of a horrendous hate crime, posting a photo in a hospital bed to Instagram. "Last night was the worst night of my life and I'm really struggling to find the words to talk about it," he captioned the pic. "After one of the most wonderful weekends at VidCon we went out to a gay club to celebrate, and towards the end of the evening I was separated from my friends and beaten up by three guys." 

In a bizarre twist, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department claimed McSwiggan had faked his own hate crime. A spokesperson for the department told Variety that McSwiggan was arrested that evening "after deputies observed him vandalizing a car" and "was then observed injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone" at the police station. It was then, cops say, that McSwiggan was transferred to a hospital before being released on $20,000 bail.

The Brit ultimately struck a deal with the court, which agreed to drop the charges of filing a false police report in exchange for the YouTuber pleading guilty to vandalism, reported the BBC.

These prankster parents put on a 'show' and lost their kids

Parents have been pranking their kids for the amusement of YouTube audiences from the very beginning, but there's a fine line between a practical joke and an act of child abuse, as the founders of YouTube channel DaddyOFive learned. In April 2017, Michael and Heather Martin were the subject of an exposé by YouTube commentator Philip DeFranco, who took a closer look at the controversial and allegedly cruel pranks they played on their children and step-children. According to New York magazine, DeFranco's video prompted a big backlash against the couple, who was forced to respond.

Speaking on Good Morning America, the parents admitted they had been living double lives. "[What] you see on our YouTube channel is not a reflection of who we are," Heather said. "It was a show. A bad show, but it was a show." Her frank admission didn't change what they had done, however, and the evidence was all over the internet for everyone to see. Court documents obtained by People confirmed that both Michael and Heather were each charged with two counts of neglect of a minor. They were sentenced to five years probation and lost custody of two of their kids. 

Sam Rader is not so squeaky clean

Sam and Nia Rader, aka the couple behind the viral hit "Good Looking Parents Sing Disney's Frozen," found viral fame once again in August 2015, when they posted a video in which Sam somehow manages to surprise Nia by revealing that she's pregnant before she even knows it. As that video racked up 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 prompted some to wonder if the whole pregnancy had been a hoax. 

It also led Internet sleuths to uncover some unflattering dirt on Sam. The devout Christian and doting husband and father had reportedly signed up for a subscription to the cheating website Ashley Madison. Sam claimed that account was created before his YouTube fame occurred and that he had already been forgiven by both Nia and God. However, soon after the Ashley Madison report leaked, Gawker published a story claiming Sam had been kicked out of a conference for allegedly threatening violence on one or more people. Again, Sam told his side of the story, but by then, his days of displaying a squeaky-clean image were over.

Jake Paul and the 'sociopath thing'

Jake Paul might not be as divisive as older brother Logan Paul (the guy who was on the verge of a Hollywood breakthrough before he posted footage of a suicide victim to his YouTube channel), but he still has his fair share of haters. Seth Rogen is just one of the big-name stars who's trashed the younger Paul brother publicly, but is there more to this former Disney actor than meets the eye?

According to fellow YouTuber Shane Dawson, Jake has allegedly shown sociopath-like traits in his vlogs. In 2018, Dawson made a documentary about Jake that aimed to get inside his head and see what makes him tick. Surprisingly, Jake allowed Dawson to follow him around. "[I] just told my truths about anything Shane asked me about different people or situations," Jake said (via Metro). "Even though it's about the sociopath thing, I know I'm not a sociopath."

Dawson's attempts to diagnose Jake (which were heavily criticized by The Verge) were inconclusive, but what Dawson did manage to do was show a previously unseen side of Jake — one that may not be as confident as his online image. Jake's girlfriend, Erika Costell told Dawson her famous beau is afraid to be alone. "I think it's the pressure of everybody relying on you like that," she said (via Business Insider). "When you wake up and everyone is relying on you to live — whether you realize it or not, that's a lot of energy being taken from you."

Jeffree Star is living that luxe life

Jeffree Star is yet another YouTuber who agreed to expose their private life to Shane Dawson. Star's makeup tutorial videos are regularly viewed by millions, and Jeffree Star Cosmetics (one of the ten businesses the YouTuber owns), has made a fortune. While Star often flaunts an extravagant lifestyle on Instagram, the true extent of this internet celeb's lifestyle became apparent in Dawson's documentary, The Secret World of Jeffree Star.

In real life, Star has three houses, two assistants, and one mountain. That's right, Star owns a mountain. In the first episode of Dawson's "iconic" docu-series, the self-made internet celebrity confirmed that those perfect teeth are actually made from zirconia crystals. "Five years ago I got every tooth in my mouth re-done," Star revealed (via Cosmopolitan). "They shaved them down to little points and put crowns over them, it was really painful but really worth it." Dawson spent much of the time with his subject being completely astonished by the extent of Star's luxurious lifestyle and bemoaning the fact that he couldn't afford half of the stuff he was seeing.

Sam Pepper says he 'faked it' to make it

British YouTuber Sam Pepper was once one of the biggest names in online pranks, but the constant drive to stay ahead of the competition led him down a dark path. With new prank channels starting to appear in droves, Pepper attempted to up the ante, but in doing so he destroyed his reputation and the YouTube channel that he worked so hard to build. The backlash against him began when he uploaded a video entitled "Fake Hand A** Pinch," in which he pinches the bottoms of random girls on the street. As it turns out, they weren't just random girls at all. They were in on the joke the whole time.

"Of course, I know in real life that I can't do that, that's why I faked it and I asked everyone before I did it," the shamed YouTuber says in an emotional apology video (via The Independent), admitting that he'd been living a double life for YouTube. "I've been faking my whole online persona. I was stupid. Instead of me thinking to myself like, 'Do I want my image to be portrayed this way?' I thought this is what everyone else is doing, this is what's going to make me money, this is what's going to get me views." Pepper is still on YouTube today but has only a fraction of the followers he once attracted.

FouseyTube or FalseyTube?

Yousef Saleh Erakat (best known by his YouTube alias FouseyTube) grew his channel with prank videos, some of which were later found to be 100 percent fake. In 2015, a man named Shane Barbera claimed he'd responded to an ad on Craigslist offering $30 to take part in a prank video. Supposedly, all he had to do was pretend to be a stranger and react angrily when Fousey jumped into his car and told him to drive, supposedly mistaking him for an Uber driver.

From that moment on, all of Fousey's content was put under a microscope. According to a dirt-digging YouTuber named The Prank Reviewer, the cheating girlfriend prank and the second Mortal Kombat elevator prank were also allegedly staged. Fousey tried to hang onto his fame by staging his very own concert, promising people that superstars likes Snoop Dogg and Drake would be performing, but nobody of note turned up.

In 2018, Fousey opened up about his double life. "When I was chasing the numbers, chasing the fame, I did some s*** that literally sold my dignity for views and money," Erakat told fellow YouTuber Adam22 in a candid interview (via Polygon). "That's YouTube. You start putting on an act. You become a slave to the numbers. You start doing s*** that you wouldn't do in your actual life."

Life with the 'living doll' could be a living nightmare

Swiss-German makeup and fashion vlogger Venus Angelic (real name Venus Palermo) has been on YouTube since the tender age of 13. In 2014, she was featured on TLC's My Strange Addiction, revealing that she thinks of herself as a "living doll" and has done so since the day she was born. She has more than 1.7 million subscribers, but her channel almost went under after a bitter dispute with her mother, Margaret Palermo.

In 2016, a row between Venus and Margaret became public, and we discovered that the living doll YouTuber wasn't quite as sweet and innocent as she'd have us believe — not according to her mom, anyway. It all began when Venus ran off to Japan to marry a man she'd met online, taking full control of the YouTube channel in the process. Margaret argues that she was the brains behind the operation and, legally, the channel is half hers. "She didn't go viral," Margaret said (via Vice). "It was my photo I arranged and shot, and [my] makeup that went viral."

Some Venus fans attacked her mother online, but others sided with mama Palermo, expressing deep concern over Venus' wellbeing. Her family and fans' worst fears were realized in 2018, when the YouTuber underwent weight loss surgery so she could look "naturally skinny" (per the Daily Mail), but her efforts to hoodwink viewers backfired. The surgery reportedly led to complications that had doctors fearing for her life. Thankfully, she recovered and is still making videos today.

Elijah Oyefeso may have big dreams and bigger delusions

When Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street hit cinemas in 2013, it inspired countless people to strike out on their own to make their fortune, Elijah Oyefeso included. The Brit was brought up in one of London's less-desirable areas, yet according to the content he was putting out on YouTube and Instagram, he was making around $38,000 every four weeks through savvy trading. In fact, Oyefeso claimed his financial venture, Dreams Come True Trading, was doing so well that he would never have to answer to anyone ever again. "I'm never going to work for someone," Oyefeso states in one of his videos, filmed inside a Rolls Royce. "Look what I've built; a foundation. A brand."

According to a 2018 investigation by The Guardian, the YouTuber hasn't really built anything at all. "Oyefeso has sent out thousands of invitations with the message 'join my team,'" the publication reported. "The problem is, his company does not have a trading floor. It does not have an office. Dreams Come True isn't registered at Companies House. It does not exist as anything more than a website and some social media accounts." Oyefeso even spent some time behind bars "after ploughing his car into a friend to whom he owed money, a claim he disputes," according to The Guardian. "[You] portrayed yourself as a very successful trader within the financial market," a judge reportedly told him. "Clearly this is not the case."

Does PewDiePie actually support white nationalism?

Superstar YouTuber PewDiePie makes this list because his reputation has become so polarizing that he's arguably lost control of his own image. Though the Swede (real name Felix Kjellberg) is one of the most popular people on the platform, he's also become one of the most loathed. In April 2019, a petition demanding his removal from YouTube made headlines. The petition called the YouTuber a "danger to society" and labelled his channel "one of the largest platforms for white supremacist content," though there's no real evidence to substantiate those claims. "A lot of these points are just flat-out lies," PewDiePie said in response. The YouTuber lost a deal with Disney in 2017 when The Wall Street Journal highlighted instances of "anti-Semitic jokes [and] Nazi imagery" in a handful of videos. PewDiePie maintains the content was taken out of context. 

Despite an apology, he's struggled to shake the Nazi tag. He believes he was treated unfairly at the time and has been ever since. "If you don't know anything about me and you don't know anything to challenge these points, then obviously it paints a really bad picture of me that just isn't true," he said. There's no denying that PewDiePie has made some huge mistakes on his way to the top, but others have noted that Kjellberg rarely discusses or drums up publicity for his charity work, which has reportedly raised millions for assorted causes, including HIV/AIDS programs.