Jake Paul And Ricegum Promote Gambling Website Scam To Kids
Some of YouTube’s biggest channels are facing backlash from both viewers and other YouTube creators after promoting a form of loot box-style gambling with a company called Mystery Brand. Both Jake Paul and Brian “RiceGum” Le have run sponsored videos promoting Mystery Brand a $100,000 offer that other YouTube creators said they’ve also received and turned down.
We noticed MysteryBrand after seeing a Motherboard report pointing out that YouTube Jake Paul & Brian “RiceGum” Le, among others, is promoting the site to his millions of subscribers. Their majority of subscribers are Kids.
In the videos, Paul and Le spend thousands of dollars on boxes (not Their own money), and winning everything from $4 fidget spinners and $60 Converse sneakers to AirPods, an iPhone XS, and sneakers worth $1,000. The thumbnails on the creators’ videos include expensive items like designer shoes, iPhones, and iPads. Le’s video is titled simply “How I got AirPods for $4.”
But three days after Le’s video went up, something changed. Within 24 hours, he and Paul were facing callout videos from Ethan Klein, Kavos and, perhaps most damaging, PewDiePie, who named the sponsorship as an “oopsie,” and called promoting the website “a bad idea in general,” especially considering both Le and Paul have young fans.
Once you’ve opened a box, you can have whatever popped out shipped to your home or ‘sell’ it back to MysteryBrand. The sell back option is key: when a player receives an item more expensive than they box they purchased, they’re tempted to turn it in to try a pricier box. Unless they score something they really want and have it shipped, they can potentially whittle down their credit going for a car or laptop until they’re stuck with whatever they got from the last box they opened.
Jake Paul & RiceGum are running a nice little gambling scam to usher in the new yearhttps://t.co/nKLHjnq3KU
— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) January 2, 2019
You can also create your own boxes. I put together one which contains only two items: a Lamborghini Centenario, which MysteryBrand values at $2,500,000, and a $1.10 sticker you can put on your toilet that says ‘iPoop’. I set the chance of getting a Lambo to .001% and the chance of getting an iPoop sticker to 99.999%. With no referral fee for myself, the auto-calculated cost for the box is $28.48.
Furthermore, commenters on both Paul and Le’s videos allege that MysteryBrand was a “scam” that didn’t deliver the goods it purported that users had won. One viewer noted that when Le got his winnings shipped to his house, the pair of Nike Air Max 97’s he’d won online, worth around $225, were replaced with Nike Off-White Air VaporMaxes, worth around $725 with the suggestion that he may have gotten an amped-up version of the service for the sponsored video.
“Jake, I tried this website and I completely got scammed out of a large amount of money,” another commenter wrote. “I am very upset to see that you would be sponsored by a company that scams people out of money.”
Keem also tweeted:
“No amount of money would be worth me promoting a scam to you guys,”
It’s disgusting seeing these you tubers promoting mysterybrand lmao
— Unic (@TristanUnic) January 1, 2019
This is not the first time Paul has been in trouble for controversial promotional tactics aimed at his young viewership. Back in September, Nerd City released an expose alleging that his relentless hawking of merch to kids was so aggressive it could violate laws that limit the amount of advertising aired during children’s programming.
The company’s terms of service has raised more doubts stating that those who participate may sometimes not receive the products they’ve won.
“During using the services of the website You may encounter circumstances in which Your won items will not be received,” the terms of service reads.
The terms also say the company will try to rectify the situation. “In this case, the Web site will make every effort to resolve this situation and try as soon as possible to resolve Your problem. The maximum term of consideration of the defect/error is 45 working days.” The document also notes that Mystery Brand operates under Polish law.
The MysteryBrand website itself, as you’d expect, looks far too shady to trust with the acquiring and shipping of a limited edition $2.5 million car. (Where do they intend to get one?)
- The text is poorly-written.
- It accepts payments from G2A Pay, which is owned by G2A, a Steam key marketplace with a bad reputation.
- The listed prices for many items are heavily inflated. MysteryBrand values a Samsung 860 EVO 250GB SSD at $114.38, for instance, when it’s actually $53 on Amazon right now.
- Incredibly, it reveals the email addresses of some of its supposed ‘top winners.’
In many of the cases, it’s hard to distinguish between bad customer service from malicious intent. But according to YouTube’s policies, as long as the promotions are clearly disclosed, Paul and Le are in the clear.
“YouTube believes that creators should be transparent with their audiences if their content includes paid promotion of any kind,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Verge before Le’s apology video was posted. “Our policies make it clear that YouTube creators are responsible for ensuring their content complies with local laws, regulations and YouTube Community Guidelines. If content is found to violate these policies, we take action to ensure the integrity of our platform, which can include removing content.”
YouTube’s policy allows for responsible gambling ads, with restrictions and protections for those watching, but the site doesn’t consider Mystery Brands or loot box-style games as gambling. Essentially, Paul’s and Le’s videos exist in a very specific gray area. YouTube’s policies do state that creators can not promote spam, deceptive practices, or scams, even through partnerships. If YouTube determines a company is taking advantage of users, its policy is to take down sponsored videos for violating the company’s community guidelines — but so far, it’s not clear whether Mystery Brand has broken those rules. But those policy nuances haven’t stopped other creators from calling out Paul and Le for intentionally misleading their followers.
By the way, if any panicked parents who just looked at their credit card statements are reading this, please note that MysteryBrand’s poorly-written TOS contains a double negative which unintentionally guarantees refunds: “The web site under no circumstances does not return the money spent on a mystery box.” and above all it is a SCAM website.