The crimes of Josh and Ben Popkin...
If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I exposed the scam artist that is Josh Popkin of Carter Agency. I won’t go into much detail in this particular article. If you want more details including evidence, watch the video HERE.
Quick synopsis, I, unfortunately, came into contact with the Conman that is Josh Popkin last year when he offered a campaign with Kinlo Skincare under the name “Ben Carter”. At the time, I assumed he was Naomi Osaka’s manager/agent. A few weeks later, I started receiving messages from young black girls who look up to me in the industry saying “Oh my! Your manager reached out to me to recruit me”. I was flabbergasted as it is well known in the industry that I do not have a manager. I set up a phone meeting to confront him & in that meeting he was able to convince me to work alongside him (NOTE: NOT MANAGE), to make extra income. Not knowing at the time what was seemingly an innocuous conversation will turn my life & the myriad of young girls lives upside down. "He was confident, assertive, and full of promises."
The name Con-Man was derived from “Confident Man”, and that “Ben Carter” Aka Josh Popkin was. He was confident, charming, assertive and full of promises.
“I am going to change your life.”
“You are going to meet everyone important through me"
"You will make a lot of money."
These are just a few of the promises he told me. I! bought! it! I was hoodwinked & bamboozled.
I was in New York When Susan Yara of Naturium and I got to the bottom of the scam. We didn’t think twice about going public. We said at the same time “It’s the right thing to do.” Five minutes later, I put the camera in front of my face and filmed the now-viral video.
I was devastated when my inbox started filling up with one person after another claiming that they too were scammed. I felt tremendous hope when they started making their videos with evidence of how they were scammed by Josh Popkin. However, slowly they started to take down their videos. Few of them expressed that they simply didn’t want to be sued. The PR agencies who willingly reached out to me echoing the same sentiments “we’ve all known that he was a crook for 2 years, we are happy that it finally came to light.” They too went silent suddenly and asked for me not to mention that we ever conversed.
Watching the influencers' videos come down one by one, the PR agencies who had previously promised to hand over my contracts suddenly changing their minds and slightly covering up for him was gut-wrenching. I remember turning into a petulant child calling my Mum crying and saying “but, you said it pays to tell the truth, YOU LIED!”
These scammers were able to pull off such an elaborate scheme, and scam so many influencers because society has permitted Josh Popkin to be a scoundrel. A criminal who was in and out of jail all of 2020, but faced not one modicum of consequence. So much so, he came out and started this fraudulent agency the same year.
Perhaps, it is completely coincidental that he started his “agency” at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement when brands were being called out for racism & unfair wages of POC creators. His scam was calculating, sinister & brilliant if he hadn’t gotten caught. As an example, he’ll allegedly go to the brands and ask them to pay a black influencer let’s say $15,000 for one video. If the brand says “No, that’s preposterous”. He’ll simply say “I’ll go online and tell the world that you are racist”. Then turn around present $1500 to the creator and say “you know how racist these brands are, sorry this is the best they would offer you”. He used an already established, albeit broken system to his advantage.
Each day, I ebb and flow between seeking justice, and just wanting to close this chapter of my life. Considering that Josh Popkin has a history of evading justice, I have very little faith that all my efforts will amount to much in the court system. Especially considering the very LOUD silence of everyone who knows the truth. Knowing that the chances of these thugs — and that is what they are, THUGS — facing any accountability let alone justice is slim to none has been beyond heartbreaking.
"This corruption runs throughout the industry."
I know with certainty that what has been uncovered is just a small fraction of their web of crimes. But, I also know that there is a different justice system for a cis white male in America. A system that has been weaponized by the morally bankrupt Popkin Brothers and has allegedly allowed him to purchase the silence of the agencies involved, as well as the influencers that are victims of his.
I’ve been racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out why the industry is silent. I am starting to believe that their silence is self-protection because this corruption runs throughout the industry. Perhaps, not as elaborate as the ‘Carter Agency Scam’, but he is hardly alone.
I understand that influencer marketing is the last stage of capitalism. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. If they can’t be an influencer (like Josh Popkin tried and failed at), they’ll try to manage, or be an agent to influencers. I also understand it’s incredibly difficult to humanize influencers as we are stereotypically vapid & undeserving. However, we are humans nonetheless.
I want to take a moment to express my sincerest gratitude to Jessy Grossman of WIIM who used her platform to help break the story & continues to do so. Susan Yara, the whistleblower & owner of Naturium, didn’t think twice and handed over the conversation with “Ben Carter” that blew this story wide open. The real Ben Carter of Dulcedo, who although devastated that his name is being used in a sinister way, has been courageous and has lent his voice to shed some light on this ever-so-perplexing story. Of course, my Mother who raised me to use my voice not only to advocate for myself but for others who do not possess the inner strength to do so for themselves. Mama didn’t raise a coward.
"Predatory behaviors like his need to be called out publicly in the hopes that influencers that are coming into this industry can be cautious, and protect themselves."
This has been one of the most violating, vulnerable, isolating & heartbreaking experiences of my life. I know this whole thing has me probably blacklisted from the industry for speaking up. However, I am incredibly proud of myself & I’ll be able to sleep at night knowing that I did the right thing. Predatory behaviors like his need to be called out publicly in the hopes that influencers that are coming into this industry can be cautious, and protect themselves. To Josh Popkin: Feel free to continue to underestimate me. You might be able to outrun the law. But, you can’t outrun yourself. Everywhere you go, there you are. I wholeheartedly believe that one day you’ll be held accountable. As particularly grueling as this has been for me, hand over heart, I’ll do it all over again. As much as he has tried to attack my credibility, I’ll remain steadfast in the truth, because well, the mountain of evidence is compelling on it its own. "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." — Desmond Tutu