CBC’s subsidiary in Philadelphia has a report about a local man, Bill Omar Carrasquillo, said to be currently “living off of his YouTube revenue.”
If true, that’s not good news at all, because according to the article, “nearly all” of Carrasquillo’s assets were confiscated in November by US federal authorities. The assets in question apparently amount to “millions in bank accounts, more than 30 cars” – and that’s among other properties, such as “a mansion in New Jersey.”
To his YouTube and Instagram followers, Carrasquillo is known as “Omi in a Hellcat” – whose “influencer beat” covers such items as diamonds and exotic cars. To the US federal authorities – according to Carrasquillo himself – his star power on social networks turned out merely to be a reason to pay attention, and then go after him.
“Bro, when I told you they took everything, they took every SD card, every camera, every television in my house, houses. They took every car,” Carrasquillo is quoted as saying in one of his videos.
What the creator is now facing is an investigation into tax evasion, copyright, and money laundering violations.
To Carrasquillo, it’s a massive personal drama – in his own words – “I was a multi-millionaire a week ago, and now I’m down to nothing.”
To a broader community of people increasingly relying on social media giants like YouTube and Instagram as legitimate, and worse still, sole sources of their income – whether this case does or does not set a precedent, the reasoning behind it may be enough to serve as a wake-up call.
Carrasquillo argues that he merely “streamed” his real-life business, a construction and rental company, into an online app, Gears TV Reloaded – which is what reportedly “made him a multi-millionaire.”
The report said that Carrasquillo is not facing criminal charges at this time – “but in August, the Department of Justice shut down two similar IPTV streaming apps, announcing charges against eight people for violations of federal copyright law.”
The report suggests that federal authorities may be going after the influence” for copyright violations rather than any other charge – and here, he pleaded his innocence to the press by claiming that no copyright holders ever challenged him on that point before.
“I just saw a loophole, I sought counsel on it, they told me it wasn’t illegal and I went for it. And now I’m being punished for it,” he is quoted as saying – adding that his failure to pay all of his due taxes was down to “a lack of financial literacy.”