A TikToker influencer's obsessive investigation into unsolved murders has spiraled into fierce backlash and the loss of his job

Screenshots of Ken Waks' viral TikTok series, which culminated in an apology.
Waks's controversial TikTok investigation culminated in an apology.tiktok.com/@ken
  • TikTok creator Ken Waks is no longer employed by Foresyte, the travel-planning app he cofounded.

  • Waks and Foresyte have apologized for promoting the app amid his "investigation" into a true crime theory.

  • Waks' videos about a murder theory have sparked intense support — and then widespread doubt.

Ken Waks, a TikTok creator who launched an obsessive, independent investigation into what he claims are a string of unsolved murders across the country, is no longer employed by the company he co-founded. His TikTok series has sparked fierce concerns about its ethics and widespread doubt about claims he's made during his investigations.

Foresyte, a one-year-old startup that helps users plan and budget travel with friends, told Insider on Monday that it has "decided to part ways" with Waks, who served as its chief marketing officer, in the wake of "recent events."

"While Ken did not violate any of Foresyte's company policies, his content choices and the resulting impacts of those choices made it difficult for both parties to move forward in a positive direction together," the company spokesperson said in an email statement.

Waks no longer has a financial stake in the company, they confirmed.

Over the last two weeks, numerous TikTok users have begun poking holes in the creator's monthslong armchair investigation into a string of unsolved murders across cities like Chicago and Austin. While he had gained a loyal and trusting fanbase when he launched his TikTok investigation in March, Waks has now become the subject of scandal. Fans are accusing the creator of exaggerating or outright falsifying details of his inquests — and have been troubled that he's been promoting the app throughout.

@ken I’m sorry. These two parts of my life should have been kept seperate. I won’t make excuses for what has already been done, but moving forward it will never happen again. I hope you can forgive me for what was an honest mistake that stemmed from trying to do too many things at once. This lesson has been hard learned, but a necessary one as I move into the next chapter of my life. #apology #controversy #update #imsorry #kencontroversy #ken ♬ Ambient-style emotional piano - MoppySound

Blurring ethical lines, as Waks issued his first public apology

Waks has garnered millions of views since he began posting about his theory that serial killers across the country have been targeting young men at night with free rides home, and then killing them and dumping their bodies in rivers. He has built a fanbase of one million followers on the platform in part by raising the alarm on a "major public safety problem" that he claimed news outlets and police departments have been ignoring.

In April, however, viewers were outraged that Waks began posting sponsored content for Foresyte in the context of the murder investigations. He was accused of capitalizing on actual tragedies to promote his startup.

In his latest TikTok, posted on May 3, Waks apologized for overlapping mentions of his startup with the investigation and said he'd gotten "lost in the sauce" over the topic. In a statement to Insider, Waks added he "never planned to promote the app" and "the references just happened organically."

A spokesperson for Forestye told Insider that it was "initially excited by the potential increase in visibility" after Waks's armchair sleuthing TikToks went viral. The company had apparently touted Waks' viral marketing efforts in posts on StartEngine and LinkedIn, which was captured and criticized by the TikTok culture critic Meredith Lynch. (The LinkedIn post has since been deleted.)

The company added that since it's "learned the fuller details of the situation," it will ensure that employees no longer intermingle personal matters with those of the company.

"While Ken brought energy and ambition to our team as CMO, the unrelated developments that have unfolded in his private life over the last couple of weeks require both parties to move forward in other directions," the company said. "We wish him the best in his transition."

Further skepticism into Waks's investigations

@ken Replying to @jamiesize2 the PI just left. I’m ok! They’ve been trying to get in touch with me, now they have, and I’ll be helping their investigation into Chicago, Austin, Boston, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Utah… we’re going national, and we’re going to get them. #update #safe #investigation #smileyface #chicago #austin #boston #pi #staysafe #missingperson ♬ Chill Vibes - Tollan Kim

Doubts about Waks's sleuthing and theories first started to blow up on TikTok in late April, when he told followers that a private investigator who had been working a case about unsolved murders in Chicago had come to his home to discuss his research.

Waks told viewers that the private investigator showed up to his residence unannounced to ask him to be "part of the team," suggesting the man had validated his theories about the murders.

Viewers began growing suspicious about whether these events actually happened. In response to these doubts, Waks began posting screenshots and email exchanges as evidence that he was engaging with a real detective. Waks has also provided Insider with some of these correspondences, including an email exchange discussing a meeting in late April.

On April 26, Waks told viewers that he had "cracked the case."

@ken I’m sorry. These two parts of my life should have been kept seperate. I won’t make excuses for what has already been done, but moving forward it will never happen again. I hope you can forgive me for what was an honest mistake that stemmed from trying to do too many things at once. This lesson has been hard learned, but a necessary one as I move into the next chapter of my life. #apology #controversy #update #imsorry #kencontroversy #ken ♬ Ambient-style emotional piano - MoppySound

However, the tide had already started to turn against Waks. Fans and commenters theorized that he was either imagining or elaborating on some of these dramatic updates.

"I have a gut feeling bro is playing make-believe," a commenter wrote. "This seems...off," another weighed in. "It's like he's roleplaying lol."

Waks maintains that these accounts are true to reality and that he's been in touch with local police and private investigators.

"I began diligently collecting information and sharing it online, as well as with law enforcement, private investigators, and other authorities in an attempt to bring awareness to these crimes," he told Insider in a statement.

 

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