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A professional YouTuber from Abbotsford has been ordered to pay $350,000 in damages for making false claims about a Texas company and its owner.

The company, I Buy Beauty LLC, provides marketing and point-of-sale service to nail and beauty salons in the U.S. and Canada.

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B.C. Supreme Court Justice Amy Francis said that YouTuber Phil Dong defamed the company and its owner, Vuong Pham, when he said they were stealing customer data and laundering money.

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Dong also accused the company of selling defective computer software, manipulating reviews of its nail spas and setting up ghost construction projects.

Francis said Dong’s audience is mostly Vietnamese citizens living outside the country and that he has close to 250,000 subscribers on one of his YouTube channels.

On June 3, 2022, a temporary court injunction was made against Dong, instructing him not to post anymore about Pham or his company, pending a defamation ruling.

Dong continued to post and, on June 21, 2023, he was found in contempt of court and arrested. Dong was detained overnight, handed an 18-month suspended sentence and has stopped posting about Pham.

Francis said that in the defamation case, “Mr. Dong did not plead the defences of justification or fair comment; indeed, he pleaded no defences at all.”

Francis found that Dong’s defamation had “a profound damaging impact on Mr. Pham personally” and on his family business.

She said Dong’s behaviour was outrageous.

“He appeared to have no qualms about inciting an internet mob against an innocent man and his young family through a campaign of falsehoods and half-truths, all in the name of, as he describes it, ‘analysis,’” Francis wrote.

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“To do so was clearly profitable to Mr. Dong. He, like many social media personalities, understood that he could get more subscribers and views, and therefore more income, by saying increasingly scandalous things.

“He appears to this day to be untroubled about the fact that the things that he said were not true. This behaviour is highly reprehensible and attracts an award of punitive damages in order to send a clear message of deterrence to the community.”

Francis ordered Dong to pay $250,000 in general damages and $100,000 in aggravated and punitive damages.

She noted Dong transferred his home to his wife in the summer of 2022 and had later claimed to be homeless without any assets.

“There is a real possibility that the plaintiffs will not be able to enforce the monetary judgment against Mr. Dong,” Francis wrote.

Francis issued a permanent injunction against Dong posting anything about Pham or his company.

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