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 suspected of fabricating tens of millions of video views on Vevo and YouTube during the period May 2014 – July 2015, including but not limited to forgery, criminal breach of trust and cheating. Every effort we made to reach an agreement with him and settle the matter was arrogantly ignored.
Vevo, an on-demand advertising supported video streaming service, owned and financed by a few major labels, however, never reported any suspicious activity 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.
Date of submission to the IC3 via WWW.IC3.GOV: November 15, 2017
>> Written by Vladimir Milicev, CEO of VIDYPS 79 d.o.o. and Blue2Digital
VEVO AND MERLIN VS. AXL HAZARIKA:
On June 2 2015 Charlie Lexton, Head of Business Affairs at Merlin B.V sent an very confusing and messy letter which attempted to elaborate on the Vevo issue;
the idea was to abolish their responsibility of anything and lay a guilt trip on VIDYPS 79 i.e. Blue2Digital and its clients;
it was rather unclear why Vevo would choose someone from a "global digital rights agency for the world's independent label sector" to represent their interests
This letter and the other one sent by Mr. Lexton some time later would not deserve review for any particular reason, but two details have managed to catch our attention:
1. It is said 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"
2. The two of our clients, Axl Hazarika and Elektrokore, are directly suspected of "fraudulent activity"
This was a signal for us to start our own investigation regarding the matter;
the fact that Vevo was not capable of detecting fraudulent activity and providing accurate royalty reports and statistics implied that the advertisers could have been paying for their ads to run on videos with potentially millions of fabricated views;
also, if any of our clients was engaged in any kind of fraudulent activity, we should have been the first to find it out
Despite the repeated requests, neither Vevo nor Merlin provided us with any document, evidence or statistics which would help us investigate the matter on our end; the Digital Music Distribution Agreement between our company and its clients would enable us to open an investigation, but we had no documents we could have started with; therefore we had to start collecting evidence by ourselves and thus found that our client, Axl Hazarika, turned out to be involved with criminal activities too
AXL HAZARIKA CAUGHT IN THE ACT:
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; we couldn't find any information about such a producer
"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
Nowdays, Axl Hazarika is working in a film studio named after Bhupen Hazarika, a legendary singer from Assam, India;
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) presenting himself as a "producer" too
I sent an inquiry to the Brooklyn guy (as for now, we will not reveal his name) and "Bhupen Hazarika's Foundation"; expectedly, they never replied
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 downloaded some videos they liked from YouTube (asking for no permission), re-encoded to higher video bit rates in order to present them as originals and redistributed as such
(poor experience with people like Hazarika or this guy from New York, USA and companies, like this one or this one from New York, USA and particularly, this one from the Netherlands, have made us launch our own digital watermarking service to help people protect their copyrights)
Two questions are raised here:
1. Was the approval of the label channel for Elektrokore part of a pre-prepared plan?
2. How come there were no copyright claims on these videos, although they had already been published on YouTube by other users?
Having been accused of being engaged in fraudulent activity, Axl Hazarika admitted that he had taken assistance of services for boosting video views and paid them "cash in hand"; on May 20, 2015 he was asked to provide the screenshots of the Facebook account(s) 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 submitted 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 16, 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 after he had it translated from English 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, his age and above all, he modified the content; it was translated into Assamese in order to leave me mislead
Before we became aware of Hazarika's fraudulent activities, our company had already sent several installments totalling thousands of dollars to Hazarika's bank account based on the revenues generated from his videos on Vevo and YouTube; Hazarika had accounts in two banks, Bank of India and HDFC, and both banks rejected to deliver the last installment several times in February 2015, which was highly suspicious
Axl Hazarika has been representing himself as a highly influential person with significant political connections in Assam and is currently launching "the largest digital Archive of Northeast India and Jyoti Chitraban Hall of Fame" while posing for a photographer with the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal (click to see the photo above)