A California social media star was charged Friday with stealing the identity of a Suffolk County woman and using it to pay for a trip to from New York to Hawaii and buy thousands of dollars worth of high-end handbags.
Christian Aaron, 19, now of Hollywood but a native of St. Petersburg, Florida, pleaded not guilty to an eight-count indictment charging him with two counts of first-degree identity theft, third-degree grand larceny and other crimes. State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro ordered Aaron held on bail of $15,000 cash or $30,000 bond. Aaron faces 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison if convicted of the top count.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Lightstone said that in December 2017, Aaron and an unnamed co-defendant got the woman's American Express account information and had replacement cards in her name sent to them.
Aaron used the American Express account to buy plane tickets to Hawaii and to stay at the Aulani Disney Resort & Spa on Oahu, Lightstone said. He opened a second American Express account in her name and bought $19,000 worth of handbags by Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and others, she said.
He planned to buy more handbags in stores using the account, but backed out of it, Lightstone said. Aaron also impersonated the woman on recorded phone calls to American Express, she said.
Defense attorney Mark Muccigrosso of Manhattan said his client intends to fight the charges and hopes to post bail soon.
Aaron's Instagram page indicates he has 184,000 followers, and he has almost 43,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel.
His social media persona is that of a high-living young man focused on staying in fancy hotels, shopping and wearing the latest fashions, traveling to high-end hotels and navigating drama with his boyfriend and other friends. Instagram photos show him posing in various states of undress and different kinds of makeup, in front of a Lamborghini, on the hood of a Mercedes-Benz and traveling to Paris, New York, Las Vegas and elsewhere.
His YouTube videos consist of fast-paced monologues, apparently shot with a selfie stick. In the videos he shows himself walking down streets in different cities, describing purchases he's made, spa treatments he's gotten, the room service food that's disappointed him and how he was displeased with how he was presented on an episode of the Dr. Phil show about social media stars.
The monologues often skip from topic to topic, veering from his shopping to his boyfriend to his travel plans and beyond.
In one video from January, titled "addressing everything i've avoided," he talked about how it is sometimes difficult to believe him and attempts to address how he finances his lifestyle.
In the video, he said he had a handbag reselling company for six months. "I had accumulated a few hundred thousand dollars of designer goods," he said, and sold it all to finance his lavish lifestyle, which he said he did to keep up with his friends.
In doing so, he said he racked up enormous credit card debt. But then he said he "happened to fall back into the IT world, which is where I'm now making more money." That job, which he didn't describe further, allowed him to pay off his credit card debt and resume buying handbags again, he said.
"I buy bags because they're art pieces and collectible to me," he said.
He added later, "I'm not like super, super wealthy, but I'm not poor," before discussing his role as "a background extra" in the 2012 movie "Spring Breakers" and showing his diploma from Dixie M. Hollins High School in St. Petersburg.