The social media star who went by the name “Paul Zimmer” had more than 7 million followers on Musical.ly before he vanished from the platform following accusations that he had scammed his fans.The 24-year-old influencer returned to social media last year as a new personality: a 16-year-old aspiring actor named Troy Becker, as first documented in an article in the New Statesman. According to court records obtained by Insider, “Zimmer” — whose legal name, sources said, was previously Paul Josef Gutowski — legally changed his name to Troy Becker in March 2019.Following criticism, Becker has once again vanished from social media, leaving questions about why he seemingly lied about his age and identity.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.A social-media star, known to fans as Paul Zimmer, rose to online fame on Musical.ly (now TikTok), gaining millions of followers by 2018. Zimmer seemingly found early success on the app by making run-of-the-mill dancing and lip-syncing videos and mobilizing his good looks and charm.Following accusations that he had scammed his young fans, however, he disappeared from the internet. About two years later, he reemerged on social media as an entirely different person — 16-year-old Troy Becker — as was reported by Sarah Manavis in the New Statesman on January 8.The report left many with more questions than answers.Court documents obtained by Insider connect Paul Josef Gutowski — the legal name of Paul Zimmer, according to sources — to Troy BeckerNew documents obtained by Insider show that the influencer legally changed his name to his new alias, Troy Becker, last year, and that his legal name was never actually “Paul Zimmer.”In the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, Paul Josef Gutowski — which multiple sources confirmed to Insider had been Paul Zimmer’s legal name — successfully changed his name to Troy Becker in March 19, 2019, according to court records.This was months after Zimmer had crafted the identity of Troy Becker through YouTube videos, Facebook pages, and a website, according to several online sleuths. The vanishing act of ‘Paul Zimmer’As the New Statesman first reported, the once-popular “Paul Zimmer” disappeared from the internet in 2017 along with his partner, known as Jamie Rose, amid calls for him to be banned from Musical.ly following accusations that he failed to deliver things like shoutouts and DMs to his fans — primarily young girls — in exchange for monetary “gifts.” @username7265824 i love you cuties 😍❤️ Instagram: PaulZimmer ♬ original sound – greatsound But the man known as Zimmer didn’t stay away from social media forever. He reappeared online with his new identity in 2019, claiming to be a 16-year-old aspiring actor known as Troy Becker (Becker sometimes claimed to be as young as 15). After 11 posts were made to @TroyBeckerIG, “Zimmer” introduced fans to his new persona. In a series of October posts to his since-deleted Instagram account with nearly one million followers, he pointed fans toward the Instagram account for Troy Becker.”Zimmer” admitted he bore a striking resemblance to the teen actor, though he continued to insist in a series of posts through December 2019 that he and Becker were not the same person.”This actor @TroyBeckerIG kid literally looks like a younger sexier version of me,” the account for @paulzimmer wrote in the since-deleted post. “I don’t even use social media anymore but had to post this hahah.”At one point at the end of December, the Instagram page for @paulzimmer told fans that he was permanently leaving social media, and would be giving all of his social-media accounts to the young actor Troy Becker.Both the @paulzimmer and @TroyBeckerIG Instagram accounts were deleted following last week’s report from the New Statesman. All recent content posted to Becker’s TikTok also vanished without a trace, though his account still exists, and was renamed with a generic username, leaving the account’s seven million followers in limbo. Fans noticed similarities between Paul Zimmer and his ‘doppelgänger’ Troy BeckerJennifer, a 20-year-old from Ontario, Canada, told Insider she caught on to the apparent bait-and-switch in the first half of 2019. A photo posted to Instagram with the #paulzimmer hashtag, which seemed to depict Zimmer at an acting class with his partner, Jamie, caught her attention, she said. She later noticed the tag had been changed to #troybecker, raising her suspicions. Insider could not verify that the caption to the photo had been altered.The Heller Approach, the acting school which posted the photo of Zimmer/Becker, said it was unable to confirm the identity of its students to the press.
In May 2019, days before Becker’s legal name change, The Heller Approach posted a video of Becker identifying himself by his new identity.
In October, Jennifer — a former fan of Zimmer — launched an Instagram account dedicated to exposing the Zimmer/Becker debacle. She said her friends told her the account, @paulzimmerconspiracies, which has 510 followers, had the potential to “blow up.” “Well, at first I really didn’t care basically at all,” Jennifer, who asked to keep her last name private out of fear of trolls, told Insider. “He’s allowed to live his life and try to move on, and if changing his name helps him do that, then sure. But as soon as he started saying Troy was 16, when in reality he’s 24, that’s where I started thinking it wasn’t OK.” @username7265824 if you want me to like some of your musicallys just spam me with likes 😘❤️ ♬ original sound – chill.melodies Across the continent, in Georgia, 15-year-old Kelsey wanted to show Zimmer that she supported him, so she too, created an Instagram account at the end of last year. While she said she wanted hate toward Zimmer to stop, she said she believed Zimmer and Becker were the same person, and she thought it was weird the 24-year-old was posing as a teen. “I think it’s normal for people to want to change who they are,” she said. “I just don’t think many people go through with it.”Kelsey told Insider that she’s received hate messages and even death threats since creating the Becker fanpage. The attacks were amplified when popular YouTube creator Danny Gonzalez posted a video on his channel at the end of December that dove into the controversy. That video currently has more than two million views and likely propelled the story into the mainstream. There’s an IMDb page for Troy Becker that lists his nickname as ‘Paul Zimmer’While most of Becker’s online footprint has been wiped, an IMDb page for Becker (with zero acting credits) exists and offers a brief bio of the supposed 16-year-old.”Troy Becker is an all American actor,” the IMDb entry reads. “He has been acting from a very young age and has received high praise for the charm and realism he brings to his characters. Recently Troy moved to Los Angeles to take his career to the next level.”A version of Becker’s IMDb page, cached in October, lists “Paul Zimmer” as a nickname for Becker, as the New Statesman reported. The current version of the page has no mention of the name. In a statement, Los Angeles-based ATM Anchor Talent Agency, which represents Becker, said it was unaware of the situation until recent media reports. “We know Troy Becker as Troy Becker, and are only hearing about what is trending as of yesterday,” a representative for ATM Anchor Talent Agency told Insider. One of Paul Zimmer’s collaborators told Insider he isn’t surprised by the recent controversyDaniel Nodar — known better as Danny Edge on YouTube — was a years-long collaborator with Paul Zimmer who said he and Zimmer were childhood friends.
fashion week 2015. 🚂 A post shared by Piano Dan (@dannyjedge) on Nov 18, 2015 at 3:24pm PSTNov 18, 2015 at 3:24pm PSTNodar, who used to post to YouTube with Zimmer as part of a duo called “Exclamation Point,” told Insider his friendship with the star turned sour in 2016 when he said he confronted Zimmer about supposedly scamming his followers on Live.ly. Nodar told Insider that Zimmer was obsessed with becoming famous, another reason he credits for the downfall of their friendship and partnership, so the idea that Zimmer had created a new identity as Troy Becker was unsurprising.”I think it’s his inflated ego that lets him think he’s just so much smarter than all of his followers. He really does think he’s above them in a weird way,” Nodar said.”I think he knows that most of his followers are preteens or very young teens, and he thinks he’s smarter than probably everyone, but he absolutely thinks he is so much smarter than his followers,” Nodar said. “I don’t think he knew that other people would pick up on it, and I can say without proof, but with confidence from knowing him, that he 100 percent thought that it was just going to work.” Becker did not respond to Insider’s numerous requests for comment for this story.Read more:US troops are still posting to TikTok despite partial ban over Chinese spy concerns, and there’s not much the Defense Department can do about itYouTuber David Dobrik surprised fans with Justin Bieber and one of them said his new single was ‘not that good’ without realizing the singer was in the car with himA 50-year-old built a lucrative business on YouTube by posting videos about the snakes, geckos, and alligator he ownsEmma Chamberlain, YouTuber and Gen Z influencer, says the term ‘influencer’ is ‘disgusting’ in cover story for Cosmopolitan
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