An Instagram post Wednesday claimed Lil Tay, a young influencer with more than three million followers, had suddenly passed away. Now, a new report has surfaced that the teenager is still alive – and her former manager is questioning "an alternative motive behind this occurrence."
Tay quickly rose to internet fame in 2018 when she was just nine years old, gaining notoriety by posting energetic and expletive-filled videos featuring cars she claimed to have purchased herself and fistfuls of cash that she waved around in her hands.
The girl disappeared from the public eye as quickly as she'd entered it. On Wednesday, a post was shared to her Instagram account, the first since June 2018, that claimed she and her older brother Jason had both died.
On Thursday, Lil Tay reportedly told TMZ, "I want to make it clear that my brother and I are safe and alive." She also claimed that her "Instagram account was compromised."
In response, her former manager Harry Tsang exclusively told Fox News Digital that he finds "relief in the fact that she is safe."
"However, I believe the reported hacking incident may not have occurred," Tsang, who noted that he hasn't spoken to the family in two years, stated. "My rationale for this perspective is two-fold: firstly, the restoration of a compromised account on platforms like Meta/Instagram typically does not necessitate a 24-hour timeframe.
"Secondly, the actions of Liltay’s brother, renowned for his propensity for extreme measures, lead me to hypothesize an alternative motive behind this occurrence," Tsang alleged before claiming: "It is conceivable that the intention behind these events could be rooted in an endeavor to illicitly extract funds from devoted supporters and unwitting bystanders.
"Simultaneously, if the underlying motive is indeed to rekindle Liltay's prominence within the public sphere, I contend that such actions demonstrate a certain degree of irresponsibility," Tsang concluded. "It's essential to consider the potential repercussions of employing such tactics, particularly given their potential impact on the perceptions and sentiments of the broader audience."
Fox News Digital has reached out to Meta, the parent company of Instagram, for comment. Fox News Digital contacted the Vancouver Police Department Wednesday, where her father Christopher Hope currently lives and where the family is from.
Vancouver authorities confirmed no deaths had been reported and officials were not investigating.
Police in Los Angeles, where her mother lives, also confirmed there was no active investigation. The county coroner's office reported that they did not have records for either Lil Tay or her brother Jason.
When reaching out to her father, his assistant told Fox News Digital on Wednesday, "He says he doesn't have anything to say about it, can't comment on it." His professional profile on his law office's site was later removed.
The original statement announcing the death of Lil Tay – which references the star's real name as Claire Hope – read, "It is with a heavy heart that we share the devastating news of our beloved Claire's sudden and tragic passing. We have no words to express the unbearable loss and indescribable pain. This outcome was entirely unexpected, and has left us all in shock."
"Her brother's passing adds an even more unimaginable depth to our grief," it continued. "During this time of immense sorry, we kindly ask for privacy as we grieve this overwhelming loss, as the circumstances surrounding Claire and her brother's passing are still under investigation."
"Claire will forever remain in our hearts, her absence leaving an irreplaceable void that will be felt by all who knew and loved her."
Following the initial news of her passing on Wednesday, Tsang urged caution regarding "the situation." "At approximately 9:00 AM Pacific Standard Time, Liltay's family released an official statement announcing her passing, as well as the passing of her brother," Tsang said. "Subsequent to this announcement, I have been in communication with individuals who have an intimate understanding of the family's situation."
He continued, "Given the complexities of the current circumstances, I am at a point where I cannot definitively confirm or dismiss the legitimacy of the statement issued by the family. This situation calls for cautious consideration and respect for the sensitivities involved. My commitment remains focused on delivering updates that are both reliable and appropriately timed."
"In times like these, it is imperative that we prioritize accuracy and empathy. I encourage everyone to rely on reputable and official sources for information. We must exercise patience while awaiting further developments before drawing any conclusions."
Lil Tay's brief time in the spotlight was loaded with controversy. Besides the very nature of her online persona – she repeatedly told her viewers that she was wealthy because she'd just decided to obtain money and that she was a Harvard dropout – there were several issues concerning her family.
Speculation began that her mother had been encouraging her to behave the way she did in her videos so that she could garner attention, so much that the two appeared on "Good Morning America" together to dispute those rumors. As part of the show's reporting, a former boss for her mother, who had worked as a real estate agent, claimed that the young influencer had actually used his properties and even his car without his permission to film videos.
"I didn't shoot in anyone else's house," Lil Tay said at the time. "No one can prove I did."
Shortly after, the mother did an interview with Buzzfeed News in which she claimed that her son, Lil Tay's older brother, was actually the one who directed her videos. Just before the interview was published, a video leaked that showed Jason, who was 16 at the time, feeding her lines filled with aggression and profanities.
She abruptly stopped creating her videos the summer of 2018, but occasionally her followers would still receive updates from her social media page – most notably about the allegedly explosive custody battle between her parents.