If US-based anti-piracy groups needed a recognizable local icon to rival the flamboyance of Kim Dotcom, last week they appeared to get one.
Omar Carrasquillo – better known by his YouTube name OMI IN A HELLCAT – is the founder of ‘pirate’ IPTV service Gears Reloaded. Unlike his counterparts behind similar platforms, however, OMI never hid the fact that he was running one of the most recognizable brands in the business.
OMI’s wealth, which included a huge house, the most blingy of jewelry, and a supercar collection to die for, was paraded all over his YouTube channel for everyone to see. But last week it came to an abrupt end. Gears Reloaded unexpectedly closed down and hours later OMI claimed he’d been raided by the FBI and IRS, allegedly for copyright infringement and tax offenses.
When compared to any of OMI’s previous videos, his demeanor made it clear that something catastrophic had happened. Nevertheless, in the absence of any confirmation by the FBI, some people complained that the whole thing was an elaborate fake designed to generate clicks.
Today, following a TV report from Fox 29, any notion that the raid existed only in OMI’s imagination has been dispelled. In the segment, a Fox 29 reporter is seen knocking on OMI’s front door, a home that was previously owned by former Philadelphia Phillies shortstop, Jimmy Rollins.
While the TV crew appears to have received no answer, the channel did manage to speak with some of OMI’s neighbors who confirmed what the YouTuber had been saying all along.
“[The FBI] had like bullet-proof vests on and they had guns drawn and they were very slowly approaching the house next door,” said neighbor Liz Ware.
In respect of OMI’s supercar collection, which some doubters claimed were either still sitting outside or had even been moved by OMI for effect, another neighbor who saw the whole thing recalled what happened.
“They loaded them off one by one through the course of about four or five hours,” said witness John Ware, who appears to be OMI’s next-door neighbor. “They took all the cars. Probably thirty of them.”
Other than OMI’s claims, that the case against him revolves around Gears Reloaded and tax issues, there is still no official confirmation of the allegations against him.
Last week the FBI refused to confirm or deny any operation and after prompting by Fox 29 yesterday, still declined to comment. It’s believed, however, that OMI is yet to be charged.
Interestingly, in a video posted to YouTube a few hours ago by OMI himself, which shows part of the Fox 29 report, the YouTuber said that just a few weeks ago his people asked the IRS “if they were after him” and he was told they were not. However, he’s certainly not happy with the way his accounts were prepared by his tax advisor.
“Back in September when I prepared my taxes, it just didn’t look right. I’m a 100% sure of this, I have 100% proof. I’m not just saying it, it just didn’t look right. My CPA [Certified Public Accountant] …she had access to all my bank accounts. She was only filing the 1099 [forms] that I received and shit didn’t look right,” OMI says.
“I [said] ‘i’m making more money than what you’re filing’. Thank God I didn’t sign them because that would’ve been hiding money, that would’ve been way worse, way worse. We contacted the IRS to see if they were after me, the IRS sent back a letter to my CPA and said no, they weren’t after me.”
OMI says that if he hadn’t been raided last week, there would be a payment plan in place by now, with around $2 million paid upfront in taxes and the rest paid in installments. Clearly, however, time had already run out and according to OMI, the assessment that streaming is something that won’t be acted on probably doesn’t stand anymore.
“To all the other streaming services out there, this is proof that this is not considered a great area,” he adds.