YouTube has become the entertainment hub of the modern world. There are 30,000 hours of new video posted to the website every single hour of the day. With all of that content, it’s not hard to imagine you’re getting a mixed bag. Some are really interesting and entertaining stuff. Some are nonsense that isn’t interesting at all. And then some oddball videos just end up getting the people who made them tossed in jail.
10. The “Chick Bank Robber” Who Gloated Over her Crime in a Video
There are all kinds of people in the world and morality is by no means static. What one person is comfortable doing may be absolutely abhorrent to another. In part, this is why we have laws at all. We need to set standards by which we can all agree to live in a civilized society. Obviously, that doesn’t work out all the time, but we’re doing what we can. So how does YouTube fit into this? Well, some people commit crimes and then brag about it online, like Hannah Sabata did back in 2012.
When Sabata was 19-years-old she robbed a bank which, in and of itself, is never a good idea. This poor decision making was exacerbated when she got home and filmed a video of herself showing off the money and some drugs and detailing how she stole a car and then robbed the bank. She titled the video “Chick Bank Robber.” The description was, “I just stole a car and robbed a bank. Now I’m rich, I can pay off my college financial aid and tomorrow I’m going for a shopping spree. Bite me. I love GREENDAY!”
As expected, once law enforcement saw the video, she was quickly arrested. She was sentenced to 10 to 20 years and though she was released on parole at one time, that was revoked and she was sent back.
9. The Boyfriend Shooter
Prank and stunt videos rose to prominence on YouTube over a decade ago and for a time, they were some of the most popular videos around. People staged pranks against strangers and loved ones or engaged in dangerous stunts, all in the name of more views. Some were simple and harmless, but over time these videos began to get more and more intense and dangerous. Sometimes they go wrong in a way that becomes deadly.
In 2018, Monalisa Perez and her boyfriend were trying to stage a YouTube stunt that was intended to mix danger with something unbelievable. Monalisa would shoot an encyclopedia being held by Pedro Ruiz, at point blank range. The idea was that the book would be so thick the bullet would be stopped.
According to Ruiz, the point was to see if a .50-caliber bullet could go through a book. It was to be his first ever stunt on a new YouTube channel. And though Perez protested, she finally agreed to the stunt. While a camera recorded the action, she pulled the trigger. The bullet tore through the book and hit Ruiz, killing him.
Perez was charged with second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 180 days in jail, the light sentence as a result of her clear lack of intent.
8. A Couple Were Arrested for Hiding in Target
The things that people are inspired to film and put on YouTube are more varied than most of us could ever imagine. That’s part of what makes it such an entertaining place. But in the quest for clicks and likes, people tend to push the envelope and do some questionable things. That’s what happened when Charlotte Fischer and Johnson Larose thought it would be fine to hide in a Target store as it was closing, then film a video of their overnight adventure locked inside.
On the one hand, you can see how this is at least a potentially interesting premise. Two people stuck in a big store overnight. That’s something most of us have never experienced. On the other hand, this is also trespassing. The couple say they expected to maybe get a fine, meaning they understood it was not legal. What they got instead were criminal charges and a potential seven-year sentence.
The official charge is criminal trespassing and also conspiracy. They’ve also been banned from going back to Target. The video is still up on YouTube and the couple gained several thousand followers after the fact.
7. YouTuber Edited Videos of Singing to Children and Got a Felony Charge
In one of the most infamous cautionary tales about what constitutes a prank versus what constitutes a crime, Evan Emory achieved international press thanks to his terrible judgment in trying to make a joke.
The Michigan man had arranged to go to a classroom at a local school and entertain the kids by singing a song. The kids were all in first grade and the song was called “innocent” by the school superintendent. That was how it was at the time. But then things changed.
Emory was planning a prank. What he did was take the video showing kids reacting to his innocent song and then he edited it. The new video swapped out the innocent song for one that was sexually explicit and offensive. Even though the kids never heard the offensive version, parents were disgusted and offended. And you can imagine how you’d feel if you saw your own 6-year-old in a YouTube video edited to make it seem like they were listening to something offensive.
Emory was charged with manufacturing child sexual abusive materials, a felony. He was facing up to 20 years. Although he was found guilty, he was sentenced to 60 days behind bars and 200 hours of community service.
6. YouTuber Posted a Video of his Pot Garden
These days, marijuana use is becoming more and more mainstream. It’s legal in 18 states and decriminalized in over a dozen others. Odds are it’s just a matter of time until it’s legal and regulated, much like alcohol and cigarettes. But it’s not there yet, and it wasn’t there in 2013 when William Bradley showed off his weed crop on YouTube.
Bradley was from Connecticut and suffered from terminal cancer. He made a video of himself standing among his many giant marijuana plants that got police to come to his home and check things out. Once there, they found not just marijuana but oxycodone and cocaine.
It’s possible police never would have found Bradley, even with his face shown, but the man made it pretty easy. Not only was he visible with the drugs, he took the time to give his name and even a PO Box where donations could be sent so that he could share his weed with others.
5. One of the Biggest Piracy Cases Ever Is Against a YouTuber From New Jersey
No doubt you’ve seen or heard about a YouTuber’s video being taken down over a copyright claim. This happens when someone includes music or images that they don’t own. YouTube is able to flag videos automatically when it recognizes copyrighted songs, but sometimes copyright holders scan for clips of movies or TV shows and notices are filed. It can lead to a loss of your YouTube channel and also serious fines. But that’s just low key stuff. Bill Omar Carrasquillo was not low key.
Known as Omi in a Hellcat, Carrasquillo faces almost unheard of piracy charges. The YouTuber was running an entire illegal streaming service. And he documented his rags to illegal riches story on YouTube. He even used the platform to advertise his pirate streaming service, where subscribers could watch pay-per-view events, Game of Thrones, live cable channels and more. Even his arrest was filmed and live-streamed when the FBI came for him.
According to charges, he and partners made $30 million from subscription fees taken from customers of his service. He used the money to buy jewelry, flashy cars and a mansion, all of which he showed off to nearly 800,000 YouTube subscribers.
Carrasquillo has pleaded guilty to fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and copyright crimes. He was facing up to 514 years in jail if convicted, though details of the plea agreement weren’t released.
4. A Wanted Mob Boss Became Born Again and Posted His Baptism on YouTube
Let’s say you’ve led a life of crime and then gone on the run. While a fugitive, you turn over a new leaf and become born again. What now? Do you turn yourself in to face consequences or do you just try to be a good person on your own terms?
Mob boss Antonio Montello was a fugitive from the law when he supposedly saw the light. His conversion was so complete, he even got baptized. The problem was the baptism was filmed. Police found the video and were able to recognize both the landscape and the pastor to figure out where Montello was. Despite his newfound faith, he hadn’t decided to take responsibility for his past actions, so police had to track him down and arrest him. He was already on the run from a five-year sentence for drug trafficking.
3. A Pair of Guys Posted Themselves Speeding in Porsches
You may have seen videos on YouTube of street racers and occasionally people who own supercars just tearing up the highway at insane speeds. You might wonder how it’s legal to film a video blasting down the road at around 200 miles per hour in a McLaren, and the answer is that it’s not. Just ask David Murray and Timur Khayrov.
The two men filmed a video for a channel called Vehicle Villains, which saw them racing Porches from Scotland to Wales at 100 miles per hour. They posted the videos and were probably enjoying their views and interactions until police saw the video as well.
Since the video was essentially a chronicle of a crime in action, the men were arrested. They ended up receiving 8-month prison sentences..
2. A Mafia Fugitive Was Caught Because He Started a YouTube Cooking Channel
You can imagine the thrill of getting an audience on YouTube and actually realizing you can make a living off of being a YouTuber. There are people out there making a lot of money, after all. It’s estimated Mr. Beast made $54 million in 2021. Even someone with reason to stay off camera like Marc Feren Claude Biart might be tempted by that.
Biart, a former mobster, has been on the run since 2014. But the man also had a passion for cooking. So much so that he started his own YouTube cooking channel. Being a fugitive from justice, he was aware on some level that being on camera was bad, so he never showed his face on camera. The problem was that he’s covered in distinctive tattoos and none of those were hidden. He was arrested in the Dominican Republic and extradited to Italy.
1. Serial Robber Caught Thanks to Wearing Same Shoes in TikTok Videos
Okay, so this one’s a cheat because it’s not YouTube, but it’s still social media video and it’s actually pretty clever. The criminal wasn’t clever, but how law enforcement used the video was.
A man trying to make a name for himself on TikTok was arrested by the FBI thanks to his shoes. The shoes he wore in his TikTok dance video were identical to shoes caught on camera in a recent robbery. The suspect was disguised, but the shoes were clear to see.
The well-shod criminal committed four armed robberies in the span of two months. But the TikTok video posting featuring the shoes was done the same day as the first robbery. An anonymous tip directed law enforcement to the video and he later admitted to all the crimes.