Earlier this month, Rosalia, a dancer in Las Vegas, decided to hop on a trend popular on StripperTok showing off how much she makes in a few busy days. In the video, captioned, “What a weekend looks like as a Vegas stripper,” Rosalia shows off her earnings with Bia’s “Whole Lotta Money” in the background, displaying the grand total on a whiteboard: $33,700 in three days. “I just happened to have a really good night on the third night,” she tells Rolling Stone. “So it went viral,” racking up more than 48 million views.
Then Rosalia noticed people commenting on her page saying they were going to report her to the IRS, or worse, that they were going to rob her. That’s when she saw her video had been reposted by Ethan Keiser, a babyfaced, moderately balding TikTok creator with more than 840,000 followers. In the video, Keiser includes a screengrab from the IRS “Whistleblower Office,” telling his followers that anyone can report someone and earn 30 percent of their money if they are not paying taxes. “It’s business, baby,” he concludes.
Over the past few weeks, Keiser has pivoted from “dark humor” sketches and trollish social hacks to encouraging his followers to report women on StripperTok to the IRS, apparently based on the (demonstrably false) assumption that exotic dancers do not pay taxes. He has even posted a detailed guide for how to “snitch,” encouraging his followers to go to Instagram and search stripper-related hashtags to “find someone flexing cash.” In the video, he claims to earn $60,000 a month from “snitching” on exotic dancers to the IRS, though, when reached for comment, he did not provide evidence to Rolling Stone supporting this claim.
Keiser, whose LinkedIn says he is a software engineer at Cisco, is also a founder and CEO of an app called StudyTree, and has participated in the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in this capacity. Now, however, he appears to be actively cultivating a following among aggrieved men on TikTok. After a female TikToker posted a video about him with the caption “worst date ever with a TikToker,” documenting how he brought his own pool cue to a first date and asked her to buy him a drink before leaving, he posted a rebuttal: “Boys, it is no simp September, I don’t care what you look like, how good-looking you are, if you’re gonna compete with me, I’m gonna win,” he said, urging men to “like and follow if you’re not a simp.”
After being called out by the Instagram account @TheDancersResource, Keiser claims the videos about snitching on strippers are intended as a “joke for educational purposes,” with the subtext being that they are intended to discourage women from showing off their cash online. But they have had a proven negative impact on the women featured in his TikToks.
Last June, Ashley DiMeo, a Tristate-area exotic dancer and popular TikTok creator, posted a video in which she put piles of cash into a drawer, with the caption, “How many days of work does it take to fill a drawer.”
“A lot of people are interested in dancers’ lives,” DiMeo tells Rolling Stone of her TikTok account. “And I’m open about my job so I don’t mind letting people know about strippers and breaking down stereotypes and stuff.” (It’s worth noting that dancers and OnlyFans creators showing off how much they make on TikTok is somewhat controversial, with some claiming that it glamorizes or misrepresents the industry, but the trend is an undeniably popular one.)
After that video went viral, racking up 77 million views, she was horrified to find that Keiser had stitched it, encouraging his followers to report her to the IRS for not paying taxes on her income. DiMeo responded by posting a video showing her tax forms, prompting Keiser to delete his video, she says. But TikTok removed her rebuttal video on the grounds that it was depicting “regulated goods and illegal activity.” (TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone regarding Keiser’s page or why it had removed DiMeo’s video and not his content.)
DiMeo is doubtful that Keiser is actually reporting strippers on TikTok to the IRS, or even that his followers are capable of doing so without knowing their legal names or personal information. But she says his videos constitute a clear invitation to harass women on the platform. “He’s making it worse for us. We get so much hate and he creates so much more hate,” she says. “Even if he’s not getting money from us, it’s not right what he’s doing.”
According to its website, the IRS does offer between 15 and 30 percent of the proceeds collected via its Whistleblower Program, provided the accused makes more than $200,000 a year. Those who submit to the program are required to fill out a detailed form including “copies of books and records, ledger sheets, receipts, bank records, contracts, emails, and the location of assets” supporting the claim of alleged tax noncompliance.
The IRS did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment regarding clarity on its Whistleblower Program or whether it would even be possible for Keiser or anyone else to earn $60,000 a month reporting people to the IRS. But a spokesperson did direct Rolling Stone to the IRS website, which specifies that a claim will not be processed if it is submitted under an alias or anonymously or if it is “found to have no merit [or lacks] sufficient specific and credible information.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Keiser reiterated that his videos are intended to raise awareness of internet safety issues. “Workers should be aware that there is a form anyone can fill out to report tax evasion. My message is clear, keep pre-taxed money private.” He denied explicitly targeting or mentioning strippers or exotic dancers in his videos, saying, “some industries are known for exclusively hiring 1099 workers, there [sic] my videos was targeting them. My videos nor I condone harassment of anyone.” (It is false that Keiser does not explicitly mention dancers in his videos, as his “how I make $60k a month snitching” video specifically directs viewers to stripper-related hashtags on Instagram.) Keiser did not respond to repeated questions as to whether he was actually reporting women to the IRS or earning $60,000 a month as a result.
Additionally, Keiser also seems to be sharing information with his follower on how to doxx the women. In an Instagram Live that was screen-recorded by the meme page @officialcamgirlmemes, Keiser appeared to be encouraging his followers to resort to unethical means to procure personal information about dancers. “Social engineering and mental manipulation can be used on the average person very easily to get whatever information you want out of them. Let’s say for example I can’t get in contact with them, you can get in contact with their parents, say, ‘Hey, your daughter’s so-and-so, we’re calling from the HR department, she listed you as an emergency contact, we’re just calling to make sure your information is correct. Bro, it’s the easiest thing in the world.” He later says, “There is a plentiful number of things that are illegal in life that no one cares about. If you got information of someone and you reported them, no one knows that you broke the — no one cares. Who cares?” (When asked whether he has impersonated an HR department to procure dancers’ personal details, Keiser says @officialcamgirlmemes’ clip was “taken out of context”: “never did I say I have actually done this,” he says.)
Keiser is far from the first man to weaponize the IRS Whistleblower Program against sex workers. In 2018, a campaign known as the Thot Audit started circulating among men’s rights groups on Twitter and Reddit, which specifically targeted online sex workers. Due to the detailed requirements the IRS has in place to report tax evasion, the campaign was largely ineffective, as Christopher Kirk, a tax attorney, previously told Rolling Stone. “The Service wants actionable information about significant tax issues, not guesses, and the program is not a forum for people with an ax to grind,” he said.
Yet that campaign, as well as Keiser’s targeted action against strippers, continues to fuel stigma against an already-marginalized community that is already subject to a great deal of harassment on social media. “It’s not a joke,” says DiMeo. “I don’t know if he’s just doing this for clout, but even if he is, he has all his followers coming for dancers and making them feel uncomfortable.”
For his part, Keiser appears to be doubling down. He posted the full legal name and location of the poster behind an Instagram account warning dancers about him, and threatened to pursue legal action against the poster. After another Instagram account, the Dancers’ Locker Room, posted about his TikTok page, Keiser added a screengrab of his post to his Instagram Stories, adding the caption, “Lmao every stripper will fear me.”