Jose “Chenel” Teran, a leader in perhaps the largest known YouTube music royalty scam in history, was sentenced to 70 months in prison on Monday. Though the official legal document has yet to be made publicly available, the news was verified by an IRS agent who worked on the case.
Teran claimed approximately 50,000 song titles that he and his company MediaMuv had no ownership rights to over the course of about five years. Victims were typically Spanish-speaking and Latin musicians, ranging from small, local talents to global stars like Daddy Yankee, Anuel AA, Julio Iglesias and Don Omar.
The MediaMuv scheme resulted in $23 million worth in stolen music royalties for both sound recordings and compositions. According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, a document filed on June 21 which details the sentence the government recommended for the fraudster, Teran personally pocketed more than $6 million of that total sum in personal profit “which he used to sustain a lavish lifestyle, including luxury vehicles, jewelry, and real estate.” This apparently included a 6,000 square-foot estate in North Scottsdale, which he paid $11,000 per month to rent.
Teran and his partner Webster “Yenddi” Batista Fernandez were originally indicted on 30 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft in November 2021. As a result of their indictment, their scam was the subject of a lengthly Billboard investigation published last summer.
While Batista accepted a plea deal, admitting to one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy within six months after the original indictment, Teran did not plead guilty and accept a plea deal until just before the start of his Jan. 17 trial date. Ultimately, Teran admitted guilt to single counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and transactional money laundering.
The government’s sentencing memorandum explains that the length of Teran’s sentence is “undoubtedly substantial” but reflects their desire to “deter future conduct” similar to the MediaMuv scam. The document adds that Teran is at high risk to reoffend, given his interest in returning to the music business after prison and the sheer scale and savviness of his scam. It noted that Teran’s legitimate work in the music industry, running a local studio called Digitlog, “yielded only modest gains” over the course of his career which could lead to “temptation to find similar schemes with exponentially greater income potential.”
“In particular, the government is alarmed that even news of his indictment did not stop Teran,” says the court document. After his indictment, the document revealed that Teran siphoned another $190,000 of stolen royalties and moved those funds to a bank account “out of the government’s reach.”
Ultimately, the document says the substaintial sentence is necessary “to deter others from replicating this scheme. Without it potential fraudsters would be encouraged to attempt similar efforts, believing any potential punishment is worth the payment… this case is about greed and the great lengths Batista and Teran went to steal.”
Batista’s sentencing is set to take place Aug. 14.
Many of the artists whose works were claimed and stolen from by MediaMuv are still unaware. To check and see if you are a victim, please click here and contact victim witness specialist Todd McKenney, firstname.lastname@example.org.