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YouTube crypto commentator Ben Armstrong, who brands himself as BitBoy Crypto, announced Wednesday that he was dropping his lawsuit against Erling Mengshoel Jr., a.k.a. Atozy, because he never intended it to be made public.
"I guess I didn't understand that my name is now so big that if I file a lawsuit, it will be found and made public," he said in a 16-minute prologue to his regular daily livestream show. "Obviously, if [I knew] this would have been public, I wouldn't have done it."
All federal lawsuits are a matter of public record. Armstrong's suit was a federal case because it involved claimed impact and losses in excess of $75,000, and because Armstrong and Mengshoel live in different states. Armstrong's legal counsel filed the complaint with jury demand on Aug. 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta.
"We are going to drop the lawsuit, 100%," Armstrong said. "I'm sorry this became public, I'm sorry that this has been misconstrued."
"This was not about a slapstick lawsuit," he explained, likely referring to so-called SLAPP lawsuits, which are intended to silence criticism. "When someone implies you can be in trouble from the SEC, that is not frivolous, that's a very, very big, serious, serious matter."
"I do believe I'm probably the most misunderstood person in crypto," Armstrong noted.
The dispute revolves around a video that Mengshoel posted in November 2021 entitled “This Youtuber Scams His Fans... BitBoy Crypto.” In the video, Mengshoel calls Armstrong "an absolute sleezy dirtbag of a YouTuber" and says he promoted failed cryptocurrencies and failed to properly disclose sponsored content.
In response to the lawsuit, Mengshoel posted a video titled, "I got sued" yesterday. He recapped the dispute, noting that when he received a cease and desist notice from Armstrong in December, "that was the first time I vomited from stress— zero out of 10, would not recommend."
Reiterating that his channel is intended to "cover dumb stuff that happens on the internet," he said the escalation to a lawsuit is "a massive inconvenience." Still, Mengshoel said he intends to fight.
"I'm going to be standing up for myself because I don't believe people should just be able to throw money at lawyers to make their shady actions go away," he said. "I don't think that people should be rewarded by filing outrageous lawsuits."
"I think it's insane that I'm being sued for expressing my own opinions," Mengshoel continued. "Imagine how thin-skinned you have to be to do this."
Mengshoel also noted that he could be looking at legal bills of $50,000 to $500,000. He posted a link to a GoFundMe campaign as well as a Bitcoin and Ethereum address for donations.
"Thank you guys so much for the support because I really need it at this point and it's been rough—this whole situation has been unlike anything I've ever dealt with," he said. "If there's any leftover funds from this, I will be donating this to various charities, because I have no intentions of profiting from raising money from you guys."
The GoFundMe campaign has raised over $53,000 as of this writing. In addition, in response to Mengshoel's plea for help on Twitter, prominent crypto Twitter member Jordan Fish, known as @Cobie, donated $100,100 in USDC.
In response to Armstrong's announcement, Mengshoel posted on Twitter that his cause had raised about $200,000, and that—once the lawsuit is officially withdrawn—he would be refunding the donations. "Thank you guys for saving me," he wrote.
From what I’ve heard Bitboy will be pulling the lawsuit.
I’m blown away from the support.
In less than 24 hours we raised roughly $200,000 USD
Once I have the confirmation it’s officially pulled. I will be refunding everyone who donated.
Thank you guys for saving me.
— atozy (@atozy) August 24, 2022
Armstrong said that he was only trying to defend his reputation and to get Mengshoel to remove the video—or edit it to remove false information.
"That was all I wanted, it just wasn't supposed to get this far," he said.
"He's the winner, I'm the loser, and I really hope he listens to this," Armstrong concluded. "I'm sorry you've had to go through this... and remove the video, or at least go back and edit the wrong parts and keep it up."