RICHMOND, Texas – A Richmond woman and her family are upset after she was the target of a YouTube user’s online prank.
YouTuber Lauren Love has more than 100,000 people who subscribe to her page.
On April 23, she posted a video titled “CEO Firing People Prank.”
She begins the video explaining that she dressed up pretending to be a high ranking Walmart manager.
"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 said in the video.
The video shows her going up to some employees, praising their work, and to others saying they’re not doing a good job and “fires” them. She then tells them it’s a prank, but on the last clip, a woman she pretended to fire broke into tears.
"Really, I was really so crushed, I felt so little, I felt so powerless,” said Maria Leones, who has worked at Walmart for six years. “At that very moment, I felt so little, because back home I had a very good reputation because I’m a professor.”
Leones, who is originally from the Philippines and moved to the United States to be with her children and grandchildren, was the last prank that showed in the 10-minute video that has been viewed more than 42,000 times.
Love questions Leones, who is a cashier, as to why she’s working in a different section of the store.
"I’m in charge now and I don't appreciate the way you're working so I'm going to need to see your badge and vest," Love says.
As someone secretly films the ordeal, Leones defends herself and her hard work and then breaks down into tears.
"At that moment, I thought about my husband, my husband,” cried Leones as she reflected on that day.
Her husband of 43 years recently had a heart attack and underwent a quadruple bypass. Her job covers his medical expenses and said that’s why she was so upset.
Love then backed down from her character and revealed it’s a prank and that there is a cameraman.
“I’m sorry, don’t cry. You’re OK. I’m sorry. You’re not fired. You’re doing a really good job,” said Love, who hugged Leones.
In a statement, Walmart said Love and the camera person have been banned from Walmart.
“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. 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."
The video has since been taken down from YouTube.