Lauren Love, a YouTuber with over 1 million followers, thought it would be a good idea to prank a Walmart employee by pretending to fire her.
Maria Leones is an elderly woman who immigrated to the United States with her husband to be closer to their family. Although she was a respected instructor in her native Philippines, Leones got used to working at the Walmart at Richmond, Texas. She was the victim of Love's prank.
"So, I'm going to be going up to Walmart employees and basically observing them and then I'm going to be, like, 'You're fired, let me see your badge," Love explained at the beginning of the video. When she approached Leones, she posed as the new store manager and asked why the cashier was working in another section of the store. She then "fired" Leones for trying to defend herself.
"Really, I was really so crushed, I felt so little, I felt so powerless," Leones told KTRK-TV. "At that very moment, I felt so little, because back home I had a very good reputation because I’m a professor..., At that moment, I thought about my husband, my husband." Leones' family depend on Walmart's health insurance
Although Love apologized and revealed the prank, Leones was in tears. She claimed she offered $50 because she "felt so bad," but Leones said she never received or wanted the money. Walmart denounced the stunt in a statement.
"This prank is offensive and the people responsible are no longer welcome in our stores. We’ve taken actions on behalf of our associates, including asking YouTube to remove the video and calling their attention to the bullying nature of this hoax," a statement from Walmart reads. "Our associates work hard every day to serve our customers. They do a fantastic job, deserve better than being subjected to such disrespect, and will continue to have our full support."
Although YouTube said it wouldn't take down the prank since it doesn't "lead victims to fear imminent physical danger, or create serious emotional distress in minors," the full video is no longer up.