How The Established Titles Scam Really Works

Folks who've spent any amount of time pounding that tiny "skip" button in their YouTube videos might have noticed a video sponsor that's been making the rounds. The premise of this sponsor — Established Titles  — is simple enough to be worthy of skepticism from the get-go. There are huge tracts of land in Eddlestone, Scotland owned by something-something private estate, Established Titles declares. Due to an unnamed "historic Scottish land ownership custom," you or anyone else can buy "one square foot of dedicated land" that shall bequeath to thee thine right to use "Lord" or "Lady" as an official, legal title. There's a little "printable certificate with a crest" you can frame and stick on the wall, and for the eco-minded, each plot of land purchased plants a tree in thine honor

Alright, so it's goofy and suitable for an 8-year-old's birthday gift. And perhaps you, the parent, get to endure your kid strutting around the house for a day wielding a paper towel roll like a scepter and speaking in a horribly cringe, vaguely "British" accent of the non-specified variety. Or maybe you get to endure your husband or wife doing the same. Or maybe you have to confront yourself in the mirror doing the same thing and have to live with the memory. Reason being, there's no land and no lords involved in Established Titles. There's nothing, as PuinikaWeb explains, but a piece of paper purchased from a Hong Kong-based scam operation.

A shady network

If a YouTuber wants to amp up income, there's a number of sponsors someone can go with. Maybe educational videos can go with the learning platform Brilliant or documentaries with Curiosity Stream. Politically leaning channels can go with Ground, which analyses and compares news outlet biases. And then, there's always VPN software like NordVPN or ExpressVPN. All of these options are legit. Established Titles, however — which seem to target quirky or all-encompassing channels like SomeOrdinaryGamers or TheQuartering — has been dubbed "YouTube's biggest con", as a Reddit thread calls it, for good reason.

The con was exposed by YouTuber Scott Shafer, who winds us through a web of interlocked companies that form various arms of shady operations connected to Established Titles. Heading over to the Established Titles' About Us page, for instance, links to founder Katerina Yip, whose LinkedIn page lists a host of other businesses. These businesses include Fail Ventures, a venture capital outfit, and Galton Voysey, an e-commerce company. Yip is listed in lead roles in those companies along with William Wolfram, founder of the excessively deceptive DealDash, per Crunch Base. DealDash is a timed, gambling-like bidding website where people make chunks of bids for low-priced items in a high-pressure situation. Even if they lose the item they've bid on, they've got to pay any and all bids they've made. On and on we go, as Insider Paper describes, until we discover that Established Titles doesn't make anyone a lord at all.

Detractors, defenders, and tree saviors

Since Scott Shafer posted his video exposing Established Titles, other YouTubers like Internet Anarchist, Simply Explained, Vailskibum, and Sully have done the same. At the same time, folks previously sponsored by Established Titles have posted apology videos. Meanwhile, Established Titles has backpedaled a bit and inserted a disclaimer on its About Us page saying the whole thing is "a fun gift, meant for a good laugh and not to be taken too seriously." It also vows to give refunds, no questions asked, but still plant the tree it promised to plant. And to be fair, it does seem like the whole tree-planting aspect is legit, even if purchasers are not actual lords, ladies, lairds, etc. That being said, as Shafer says in his original YouTube video, this is like stealing from someone's house, pawning something off to plant some trees, and saying it's okay because, "ultimately, I did something good."

And yet, Established Titles has already entrenched itself deeply in the YouTube community and general public. There's an Established Titles Instagram page featuring beautiful Scottish landscape shots, people smiling while dreamily gazing in various directions, and iconic Scottish paraphernalia like bagpipes. It's got a TikTok where users post videos of how the company has "transformed" them from regular old chumps into royalty for a mere $49.95. There are also defenders on Twitter, Trustpilot, and more. Meanwhile, Established Titles itself is still up-and-running.