The leader of a Los Angeles rock band apparently created a fake fanbase and industry profile in order to secure a European tour which sold almost no tickets.

A man known as Jered Threatin, who performs as Threatin, removed various social media profiles after U.K. venues and support bands reported that shows had been played to empty rooms.

Metal Sucks reported that Threatin appeared to have bought likes to make it seem that his band had 38,000 followers on Facebook, and that one of his videos had secured over 960,000 views. He also created his own record label, booking agency, press agency, and even an award to present the image of being a rising-star artist.

After the opening show at London’s Underworld on Nov. 1, the venue operator tweeted, “What happened to the 291 advance ticket sales your agent said you’d sold? THREE PEOPLE turned up. Please don’t lie about ticket sales, and please don’t contact us again for a show.”

“It REALLY seemed weird when the only people to arrive were on the support band’s guestlist,” a staffer at the Exchange in Bristol reported, saying they’d been told 180 tickets had been sold in advance. “We had to ask Threatin to pay the venue hire / staff costs before anyone else played. The singer eventually huffed off and withdrew the money so the show could continue and the could play to literally zero people (aside from their tour manager and a couple of guys from one of the support bands because they felt bad for this guy.”

“Throughout the whole night Threatin didn’t approach anybody or talk to anyone but his own people,” said Adam Gostick of support band The Unresolved. “I heard him speak twice. Once when [local hire furm] Robannas Studios showed up because Threatin hadn’t payed backline hire. And once again was a quiet ‘thanks’ cos I held a door open for him. Overall everyone involved with him are very rude and ignorant. There were 13 people in the room when we played. The sound engineer, bartender, 10 people we brought and 1 who actually got a ticket.”

You can watch Threatin’s video for “Living is Dying” below:

Metal Sucks described the videos on Threatin’s YouTube channel as “bizarre,” adding, “To start, there are a couple of live clips designed to give the impression that the band has a room packed full of fans, but all of them either show only the band on stage or only the crowd — never both in the same video. What’s more, although there’s no way to prove this, one gets the sense from the audio on these videos that they’ve been overdubbed with the sounds of screaming fans (the performance videos) or music by Threatin (the crowd videos).”

On the subject of how Threatin had managed to fool venue operators, a staffer from the Underworld explained, “the £780 hire fee was paid in full in advance, so we didn’t really bother to do background checks. We watched a YouTube video, was shocked that anybody would bother to hire the venue for this guy but took the money and figured it was a day’s work for our crew and staff!”

Other commentators suggested that Threatin had rich parents who’d bankrolled an imaginary attempt to be a rock star, that he’d actually made a profit from the YouTube views resulting from the news coverage, and that he’d worked harder to pull off his “scam” than many bands work on their real careers.

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