YouTube star Lauren Love dressed up in professional attire and toted around a clipboard during a visit to a Walmart in Richmond, Texas while recording what was intended to be a harmless prank.
What multiple media outlets are now referring to as a prank gone wrong features Love walking around the Walmart as she approaches multiple employees before asking for their vest and badge as she informs them they are fired.
The video was uploaded on the joint account of Lauren and her partner Joel Ashley’s account titled “Joel and Lauren TV” roughly a month ago. The account has accumulated over 1.3 million subscribers and they collectively have another half a million followers across three additional channels. The duo is well-known for uploading prank-themed videos to their channel.
Per Buzzfeed News, Love described the prank as a “social experiment” in a separate video on a different account.
“Hopefully it’s funny. I dunno if it’s going to go wrong or bad,” Love said.
While the prank video that has caused the YouTube star to come under fire has since been removed from the platform, ABC 13 News describes the employees filling with shock and horror as the prankster “fires them.”
The media outlet goes on to reveal one of the victims of the prank – Maria Leones – thought the YouTuber went too far. Despite being a member of the Walmart staff for nearly six years, Leones truly believed she was being fired when Lauren approached her.
While Lauren did apologize when Leones busted into tears, the Walmart employee remained tearful as she spoke to reporters about why the prank was so much harder on her.
“It might be fun for some people, but not for people who have already had a traumatic experience,” Leones said.
Maria’s husband was currently at home recovering from a triple bypass surgery he had a few months prior. The surgery not only forced Leones to be the only breadwinner of the house, but it put her in a situation where her husband was relying on the health insurance she had through her job.
A YouTuber named Lauren Love at "Joel&Lauren TV" filmed a "prank video" where she went to Walmart, pretended to be a boss, and told employees they were fired.— Stephanie McNeal (@stephemcneal) May 10, 2019
One employee told @abc13houston she was terrified bc her job provides $$ and insurance her husband, who just had surgery pic.twitter.com/QeKDPlU7XU
While Love declined to be interviewed, she did tell ABC 13 News she gave Leones $50 for the trouble she caused.
Maria, however, claims she never received any money from the YouTuber nor did she want any. What the Walmart employee wanted was a promise that Lauren would never pull a prank like that on anyone else.
A representative from Walmart issued a statement revealing that anyone involved in the cruel prank has been banned from their stores.
“This prank is offensive and the people responsible are no longer welcome in our stores. We’ve taken actions on behalf of our associates, including asking YouTube to remove the video and calling their attention to the bullying nature of this hoax.”
Initially, YouTube declined to remove the video because it didn’t violate their terms of usage. The video, however, has since been taken down. Previews and clips of the cruel prank are still floating around the internet.