Million-dollar YouTube scam hits Latino artists
According to Billboard, it is one of the largest thefts in the platform's history.
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Two Phoenix men perpetrated one of the largest thefts in YouTube history the deed by charging up to $23 million for song royalties on the platform.
Among those affected are Latin music's biggest stars like Daddy Yankee, Anuel AA and Don Omar.
One scammer is José "Chenel" Medina Terán, a music producer who began to attract attention when he went from being middle class to driving a Lamborghini. The other was Webster "Yenddi" Batista Fernandez, a Phoenix-local bachata artist and music video director who also went on to own his own Lamborghini and numerous pieces of jewelry.
In November 2021 is when it all came out about the source of the two men's newfound wealth became known.
"According to authorities, Terán and Batista had been running what is now one of the largest, if not the largest, music royalty scams known on YouTube in history," reported Spain's La Sexta.
The scam was also investigated by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), both have been charged with 30 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.
Terán and Batista were also found to have created a company they called MediaMuv to siphon off $23 million in royalties from Latin music copyrights they did not control. They claimed to own more than 50,000 copyrights to songs and compositions of these Latin singers, and did so for four years.
They claimed these royalties through the rights management company AdRev, owned by Downton Music Holdings, which has external access to YouTube's CMS. It helps the artists manage their digital royalties.
For his part, Terán has not accepted the charges and pleaded not guilty. Batista accepted a plea deal, admitting to one count of felony wire fraud and one count of conspiracy.