Local TikTok influencer arrested after posting fake crimes to gain an online audience
On July 5, a 27-year-old man was arrested after renting a U-Haul truck and driving around with a “free candy” sign on it. Gatineau police began investigating the suspect at the beginning of May after they received a complaint about an individual driving around with a rental inscribed with “free candy” to attract children. In the video the suspect drives by schools and even speaks with some children.
The suspect, Anthony Gagné, gained mild popularity on TikTok, a social media mobile app where users post short videos, by faking crimes to gain views and followers. The “free candy” video was not the only “fake” crime video he posted. It seemed that all Gagné's content revolved around faking crimes to get various police services, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to visit his home.
In one video, dated from May 25 of last year, the influencer claims to have succeeded stating that RCMP officers did show up at his home. “After 9 months of weird stuff, I finally got the FBI and RCMP’s attention!” Gagné wrote in the description of the video. “They said ‘now you got what you wanted’ and that if I continue I would be criminally charged and probably go to jail,” said Gagné in his video.”
“It is time people understood that gestures or words spoken on social networks are not without consequences. Inciting the police, whether virtually or in person, to launch an investigation under a false pretext is a crime,” said Gatineau Police spokesperson, Patrick Kenney. “The Gatineau Police will never hesitate to prosecute people who engage in reprehensible, threatening, hateful behaviour or forcing public security organizations to deploy resources inappropriately.”
The warning did not deter Gagné, as Gatineau police state that they found many similar videos that date back to 2021. He had several counts across various social media platforms which total approximately 500,000 subscribers.
On July 5, Gatineau conducted a search of the suspect's home and seized three cellphones, a tablet, a laptop, fake blood, a balaclava, a gas mask, and a vehicle rental contract.
Gagné faces charges of attempted public mischief, which is described as anyone, with the intent to deceive, causes a peace officer to begin or continue an investigation. He was released with several conditions. He is prohibited from posting content on social media, including YouTube. At the time of publication, Gagné’s main TikTok account has been removed from the application, but two backup accounts remain visible to the public. Gagné’s YouTube Channel is also public.
Photo Caption: Screenshots of videos posted by Anthony Gagné, a Gatineau resident who posted fake crime videos to social media to gain popularity by getting the attention of police
Photo Credit: Anthony Gagné’s YouTube account