It was one of the largest cryptocurrency websites going, with huge celebrities in ads, MLB umpires wearing their logo and more. But when things went belly up with FTX, the lawsuits came calling. Rumor is Shaquille O’Neal, one of the company’s celebrity endorsers, is hiding so he doesn’t get served legal documents. Well, two Las Vegas YouTubers have been named in a lawsuit that has financial internet influencers in the crosshairs.
A man named Edwin Garrison filed a lawsuit in United States District Court Southern District of Florida Miami Division against several YouTubers including three who reside here in Las Vegas: Graham Stephan, Andrei Jikh and Jeremy Lefebvre. The three operate their own, independent YouTube channels that talk about trends in the financial world, encourage smart ways to save your money, and also sell ads against their content. All three, the suit alleges, accepted and promoted FTX as a product to use if you are in the market to get cryptocurrency.
Who are the Las Vegas residents named in the FTX Lawsuit?
Andrei Jikh is a financial influencer and magician (no, seriously, he does magic tricks while he talks about finances) who has promoted frugal living and smart saving to his 2.21 million subscribers. He posted a video last year about his new Las Vegas home that he purchased for over $1.3 million.
Graham Stephan has 4.25 millon subscribers on the platform and moved here in late 2020 from California. While typically a home investor, Graham started talking more and more about crypto, especially when the pandemic hit. He’s been featured on CNBC for his frugality as well. He bought his home in Summerlin for a cool $1.4 million dollars before adding a custom fish tank, new pool construction and more in the backyard.
Jeremy Lefebvre is a financial YouTuber with a more modest reach. His Financial Education YouTube Channel boasts 720,000 subscribers, with several other alternate channels as well. He recently bought his “dream home”, after all improvements, for over $1.4 million.
The one trend you see in many of these videos is that they have used their YouTube virality, and financial prowess, to reach the “American Dream”. Get a sweet pad, have no debt, and live the life. So it goes without question that the viewers of the videos would tend to trust their advice. While it is worth noting every creator does state in one form or another it is “not official advice, seek a financial advisor”… the popularity of their channels is based upon their “opinions” of how to save.
What does the FTX lawsuit allege?
According to The Block, the class action lawsuit alleges these influencers, among others, “of promoting FTX and then scrubbing their channels of clips endorsing the collapsed exchange”. It also claims that the influencers did not disclose their sponsorships adequately to show their promotion of FTX was more than a personal suggestion but a purchased advertisement.
The one common thread behind many of the influencers is Creators Agency LLC, also named in the lawsuit. The firm helps connect internet creators with advertisers and is likely where the financial connection between FTX and these YouTubers began.
The lawsuit is seeking damages of $1 billion dollars.
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