TikTok Fraud & a Great Spot by Ben Oliver

In the wake of multiple impersonations, lots of you have asked what I’ve decided to do about my actual presence on Tic Tok. To be honest, I still haven’t made up my mind. So far, we’ve shut down over a dozen Mike Rowe impersonators on that site, but more and more keep popping up. Part of the reason there are so many, is because I don’t use the site. Currently, I’m holding a page called The Real Mike Rowe, which I reserved a few years ago, before I realized the Chinese government was calling the shots. At the moment, though, that page only contains three videos. One of me and John Rich singing Santa Clause Gotta Dirty Job, and two more recent videos of me warning people to be careful. Thus, lots of other pages claiming to be me look more like me than I do. And that’s a problem.

Here’s one example of the fraud being perpetrated. A guy in Arkansas named Benjamin Oliver wanted to make a commercial for my whiskey brand. He asked for my permission, via Tic Tok – specifically, from “The Official Mike Rowe” page with nearly 100,000 followers and a LOT of Mike Rowe-related content. The impersonator then gave Ben “my” permission, at which Ben began to make a commercial for Knobel Whiskey. In fact, he documented the process, which you can watch here. bit.ly/3NKufZF It’s pretty cool. Then, a few months later, my office received this email from Ben.

“Hello – My name is Benjamin Oliver. I’m a video director based in Northwest Arkansas. Reid Turner (CC’d on this email) and I unfortunately fell into the fake email scheme on Tic Tok a few months ago.

Starting back in March, we had plans to create a 30 second commercial for Knobel Whiskey. We spent weeks coming up with concepts, scripts, hiring talent, etc… We even got CAT to loan heavy machinery for the shoot. We filmed the commercial in late May, had the script sent off to be recorded, and then spent the next few weeks piecing the video together.

After sending the commercial to Mike, he said it looked good, and asked if we wanted to have a bottle of Knobel shipped to us. We said sure, and then he began harassing us with his venmo account, trying to get us to send him money. That’s when Reid found the video Mike Rowe posted, warning everyone that he was being impersonated.

We do not want anything in return. But we would love it if Mike Rowe could watch the commercial we made for his incredible whiskey brand. We think it’s our best work to date!
Benjamin Oliver

Hi Ben –
First of all, thanks! The spot looks great! I know how hard it is to get a break in the advertising business, and I admire the initiative you guys took in creating something on spec. The fact that someone took advantage of that initiative is unfortunate, to say the least. Hopefully, the villains who did this will experience a level of profound incontinence, as chronic as it is unpredictable. In the meantime, I’m happy to share your work on this page, and grateful for your efforts to help our cause. (A Knobel Cause, if you will?) Perhaps someone in need of your talents will see what you’re capable of doing and reach out. Crazier things have happened. Because online sales are a fundraiser for mikeroweWORKS, Knobel isn’t spending money on external production services. If or when that changes, we’ll certainly keep you in mind for future work. In the meantime, please accept a bottle of signed bottle, with my compliments. (I know how to get it to you…)

Thanks again,
Mike Rowe

PS. As for the rest of you, be advised – I never have and never will use social media to invite anyone to contact me at a personal email. My foundation has an info account where I receive a steady stream of love letters, hate mail, and various other inquiries, and that account is info@mikeroweWORKS.com. But that’s it. If I ever do post again on Tic Tok, I will hold my nose and do so under “The Real Mike Rowe.” But of course, I won’t be able to prove that it’s really me, and I would never ask you to take my word for it. So, in the words of a dead emperor – Caveat Emptor.

PPS At the risk of turning this into an actual commercial, Knobel really does taste delicious, online purchases really do benefit mikeroweWORKS, and three different types can be found at knobelspirits.com.

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