Meet the first Assamese singer who faked tens of millions of views on Vevo
IN A NUTSHELL:
Pranab Jyoti Hazarika a.k.a. Axl Hazarika (VILL/TOWN KAINADHARA PS BASISTHA, SUB DIVN GUWAHATI, OPP. KHANAPARA OVER BRIDGE, GUWAHATI 781022, ASSAM, INDIA) is directly suspected of fabricating tens of millions of video views on Vevo and YouTube between May 2014 – July 2015. Vevo never reported any suspicious activities or imposed any sanctions on Axl Hazarika during that period. Eventually, Vevo has left an enormous debt of hundreds of thousands of dollars unpaid to our company and its clients, while they have never come out with an official explanation on this matter and never offered any compensation. Every effort we made to reach an agreement and settle the matter was arrogantly ignored.
Date of submission to the IC3 via WWW.IC3.GOV: November 15, 2017
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On May 12th 2015, the Coordinator at Content Operations at Vevo sent me an email stating that "we have detected some suspicious actvity from your account which we are currently investigaing. In order to properly protect ourselves during this process, your videos have been temporarily hidden until further notice."
On May 22th 2015, the Coordinator at Content Operations at Vevo sent me another email stating that "with the exception of the below videos, all VIDYPS79 uploads will be live again within ~2hrs"; there was a list of 25 blacklisted videos that were not supposed to go live again, but despite the said, most of the "incriminated" videos were restored too
A client of Blue2Digital's, Conchita L., whose video was one of those blacklisted, contacted Vevo on June 19th 2015, saying that "she is absolutely devastated and have no idea why her video is not there anymore"; on the same day she was replied by another Coordinator at Content Operations at Vevo saying "Vladimir, please confirm this video should be live again and we will push out"; finally, on June 22nd 2015, the Coordinator at Content Operations at Vevo confirmed with "Hi Conchita, I'm very sorry for the trouble. Your video is now live with views and statistics intact"
On June 2nd 2015, the Head of Business Affairs at Merlin sent an email to John De'Bey (I, Vladimir Milicev, was on copy) addressing Axl Hazarika and Elektrokore as artists to have committed "fraudulent activity"; the Head of Business Affairs at Merlin underlined that "Vevo did not utilize any software specifically intended to detect fraudulent activity or views; in this instance, this activity was caught by their analytics, data and finance teams"
In other words, Vevo had no idea what was going on, but at the time they were supposed to pay the royalties, they found it was "too much" and just aborted the payments
Why it was Merlin replying instead of Vevo, and why it took them months to reply anything at all, none of them could ever explain
According to this letter, Vevo was not capable of counting video views and providing accurate royalty reports and statistics, which implies that the advertisers were paying for their ads to run on videos with millions of fabricated views; Vevo never reported if they had returned the money to the advertisers
According to the Head of Business Affairs at Merlin, Merlin allegedly had to imburse Vevo for the amount paid to my company, and therefore he required that my company should "reimburse Merlin" in return; I asked from the Head of Business Affairs at Merlin to present the document proving that Merlin had to reimburse Vevo for any reason, but I never received any reply
the Head of Business Affairs at Merlin required from the Finance at Merlin to send me an invoice, but they never did; instead of it, Merlin confiscated all the money my company had with them (between $22,000 and $30,000 by that time) for the sake of "reimbursment"; this amount must have increased over the past two years
A couple of months later, Merlin sent "the adjusted Vevo reports" for the period June-December 2014; the reports for March and April 2015 were missing through the whole year of 2015 and were finally sent in November 2015; Vevo, in actual fact, couldn't have revised any reports, because deleting IP addresses representing video views is illegal
In September 2015, the Royalties Manager at Merlin left Merlin
As soon as John De'Bey got involved, Merlin stopped seeking the reimbursement, but they never returned the money they had confiscated; instead of it, by falsifying and forging federal, state and court documents, engaging fictitious attorneys to represent my company in fictitious negotations with Vevo and just as same fictitious lawsuit against Merlin, John De'Bey took $87,554.75 away from me, which was more than enough to "reimburse" Merlin and their partners; he offered me a forged music distribution deal with "Universal Music Group" which was supposed to distract me from filing a lawsuit against Vevo
It is impossible that it would take Vevo more than 8 months to notice there were tens of millions of fabricated views, unless taking money away from the advertisers was the final achievement
My company's reputation and music distribution business is irreparably ruined; my clients lost all video views and money they had invested into them
Despite my repeated requests, neither Vevo nor Merlin provided me with any document, evidence or statistics which would help me investigate the matter on my end; the Digital Music Distribution Agreement between my company and its clients would enable me to open an investigation, but I had no documents I could have started with; therefore I had to start collecting evidence by myself and thus found that my client, Axl Hazarika, turned out to be a criminal himself
On Elektrokore's website I once noticed that an investor from the U.S. was willing to invest thousands of dollars to their artists; Axl Hazarika introduced me on Skype to an alleged producer from Dublin, Ireland named "John Henry" (Skype ID "pahsurf", allegedly born in 1952) and being Elektrokore's CEO; I couldn't find any information about such a producer, but looking through Hazarika's profiles on Facebook, I noticed he was actively supported by a guy from Brooklyn, NY, born in 1951 (or 1952, depending on the sources) and who also presents himself as a "producer"
Nowdays, Axl Hazarika is working in a film studio named after Bhupen Hazarika, a legendary singer from Assam, India; Bhupen Hazarika's songs on Vevo were published by Sony Music India, one of Vevo's owners
The alleged producer and Elektrokore's CEO, "John Henry", also suggested that a well-known businessman from the United States, Chris Sacca, should be an investor of my company's future projects
I contacted the guy from Brooklyn and "Bhupen Hazarika's Foundation", but received no reply
Having contacted Elektrokore's ex-clients, some of them told me that they had no idea of their videos being on Vevo; it turns out Hazarika and Elektrokore were downloading some videos they liked from YouTube without permission, re-encoded them to higher video bit rates in order to present them as originals and redistributed them as such
The question is if approving a label channel for Elektrokore was a part of the plan prepared in advance and how come there were no copyright claims for these videos, although they were previously published on YouTube by other users
Having been accused of producing fraudulent activity, Axl Hazarika admitted that he had taken assistance of services for boosting video views and paid them "cash in hand"; on May 20th 2015, he was asked to provide the screenshots of the Facebook account(s) where he and/or his colleagues were allegedly doing their video promotion from
* Axl Hazarika and Amrita Sonowal meet "honourable Chief Minister Shri Sarbananda Sonowal Sir to discuss the initiative of kickstarting the Startup Assam Scheme"; the criminal complaint about Axl Hazarika reported to the Assam Police is obviously not a matter of Sarbananda Sonowal's concern (Photo: Facebook)
The screenshots he provided were, however, fake; apart from revealing no artist names, video titles or Facebook account holder's name and with content written in German, both screenshots were taken in February 2014 – Hazarika had no videos distributed by Blue2Digital in February 2014
On June 16th, 2015 I also sent Axl Hazarika an Affidavit in English to be publicly notarized to ascertain that he and his colleagues didn't use any robotic software to produce fake views; Hazarika procrastinated and gave many lame excuses for not sending it on time – he finally sent the signed Affidavit three weeks later, having been translated to Assamese; I didn't suspect anything, I presumed it was the official language in his country
When I got his Affidavit translated back to English, it turned out to have been forged too: Hazarika lied about his name, about his age and above all, he modified the content; it was translated into Assamese in order to leave me mislead
Axl Hazarika has been representing himself as highly influential and politically connected in Assam and is currently launching "the largest digital Archive of Northeast India & Jyoti Chitraban Hall of Fame", along with taking friendly photos with the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal