Editor Note: Out of respect for the LGBT community, all efforts have been made to use desired pronouns in this story. It’s important – and relevant – to note that Yaniv was still living a male life and using Jonathan during this era, and only transitioned in the last 18 months. Yaniv’s behaviour and actions in this story were all while Yaniv presented as male, except a few reference to current claims JY has made.
If you look at Jessica Yaniv Simpson’s resume, you’ll notice JY is listed as Social Media Manager for Cimorelli. Not a bad title, right? Except, it’s not true.
Thanks to unprecedented access to insider information telling the Cimorelli side of the story, I can now decisively tear down the illusion that JY continues to perpetuate across social media and the real world. For the first time, sources close to the Cimorelli family are speaking up to set the record straight on how they became involved with JY, what JY’s role was in their media empire, and how they felt then and feel now about JY’s impact on some of their fans.
Cimorelli is a singing group comprised of five sisters that gained massive popularity on YouTube. They’ve released five albums, countless EPs and covers, and won a Teen Choice Award in 2013. Their single “Made in America” landed on the Billboard Top 200 the same year. At the time, the girls ages ranged from 13 (Dani) to 23 (Christina). Their YouTube channel has 5.4 million subscribers and has amassed nearly 1.3 billion views. Their fan base consists largely of young women in the same age range as the girls – an important detail considering the broader JY story.
The details of JY’s relationship with Cimorelli depend on who you ask. If you ask JY, he was an integral part of their online presence and a close personal friend, with intimate access to the girls’ private lives. Cimorelli fans, the few that knew JY at the time, came to see JY as a cyberbully and a predator.
JY created a persona online – a self-described superfan and tech guru – and desperately wanted Cimorelli to notice him. JY integrated into the fan base and caught the eye of a family friend, who introduced JY to Cimorelli as someone that was promising to help the band take down fake accounts pretending to be the girls. Cimorelli took him up on his offer to volunteer his tech services.
JY was admittedly successful at getting some of the fake accounts closed down, although it’s widely speculated that many of those fake accounts were JY’s own. Much of the local JY Knows IT business was built on this exact premise – spam businesses with fake reviews or illicit content, then leap in with an offer to help clean it up.
Soon enough, JY was in his glory – surrounded by underage girls and sitting in a position of perceived power. JY, a master manipulator and expert liar, could – and often did – exaggerate his role with the girls, telling young fans that they could connect them with the Cimorelli girls if the fans did something for JY. JY told some fans that he could get them a Skype call with the girls, and others that they could record a “radio drop” for the band. No doubt this was extremely appealing for excited young fans! At no point did Cimorelli authorize Yaniv to record ‘radio drops’ or consent to JY representing them in this manner.
JY would tell young girls that he could do special things for them and only them. Of course, JY was making these same statements to multiple people, and word spread. Young girls would approach JY and think they could meet their idols – if only JY would help them.
To this day, if you ask JY, he’ll tell you that he was in full control of the entire Cimorelli social media presence. JY claimed to have all their passwords and free reign of Cimorelli’s social media. It was, according to JY, his job to oversee the social media kingdom, from Facebook to YouTube. JY claimed to be employed by Cimorelli – and stands by this today.
The fact that JY continues to operate at least one Facebook page impersonating one of the Cimorelli girls in 2020 is really a sign of how deranged JY really is, considering the fact that JY’s business relationship with them started in 2012 and was ended less than a year later. They briefly reconnected in 2015 when JY approached them about a partnership deal with Andrew Barron over an indiegogo project for Cimorelli branded headphones. Cimorelli gave JY a second chance, but Yaniv hadn’t changed. It didn’t help that the entire indiegogo project went up in smoke and everyone lost their money – JY included.
The reality is that JY’s role was very small in the grand scheme of things. He volunteered his time, and there were no contracts or agreements signed. JY was once paid a token fee for helping the band get Dani’s Instagram account sorted out, but that was it. No salary, no wages, no anything.
His access to their accounts was much more limited than JY would have you believe. At one point, the Cimorelli Facebook page was being spammed with porn comments (coincidence?) and JY was given access to the page to clean it up before too many young fans saw it. That access was allowed from time to time, such as announcing contests. Cimorelli monitored the conversations and nothing inappropriate was observed originating from their account. He later had similar extremely limited access to their Twitter, and it was also observed carefully by Cimorelli insiders.
Yaniv’s resume goes on to say that he managed Cimorelli’s YouTube and VEVO channels. This is completely false. JY never had access to the Cimorelli YouTube channel, and not even Cimorelli had access to their VEVO channel. VEVO channels at the time were managed by the record labels, not the band. Cimorelli had no control over it and they themselves couldn’t even get the pornographic comments removed from the comments section of that channel.
Yaniv was granted an official Cimorelli email address for a short time because JY told Cimorelli that it would help in filing DMCA complaints to protect the band’s intellectual property by making JY look more official. This was probably true, but it was short lived.
The professional relationship ended when it was discovered that Yaniv had been sending cyberbullying messages to fans. JY was warned to stop, and when he didn’t, access was immediately cut off. The Cimorelli email address was cancelled, and the Facebook page locked from JY’s access. Yaniv complained about this and tried to blame it on fans. One of Yaniv’s most famous lines has become, “I don’t know why you’re doing this all of a sudden”. How many times have we seen Yaniv say that to teenage girls in recent years? Yaniv tried to play the victim, saying the fans were harassing them, not the other way around. Yaniv claimed that he didn’t know why people were doing this to him and that he had gotten tons upon tons upon tons of hate on something he didn’t even do.
According to my source, Cimorelli told JY the decision had come from the label, and they wanted only the official Cimorelli team on their social media going forward. They thanked JY for previous tech services and that was to be the end of it.
Yaniv continued to message the Cimorelli family from time to time. Despite not getting responses, Yaniv sent the family frequent messages, sometimes with dozens of links to things JY felt were inappropriate for their page. Yaniv tried to tell them that they should follow their instructions to remove the NSFW content before their page was flagged, even saying it would not be good for their fans.
In late 2013, after Yaniv had been released, the band contacted JY because fans had been complaining that about still being harassed and reported by them. Yaniv, always quick to have an excuse, denied that and said he was reporting Cimorelli fans that were using Yaniv’s own photos, and that there were fans that blame Yaniv for everything. JY said they should blame Twitter’s suspicious behaviour algorithms and not him.
The bridges were burned. A source close to the Cimorelli family states that to their knowledge, JY never posted anything coming from the band that was inappropriate. The disgusting posts that they became aware of came from JY directly, apparently grossly exaggerating the relationship with the Cimorelli family and using that to act like JY was a big deal and then taking it to levels that they have only seen screenshots of. The Cimorellis only met JY once when he traveled to LA. JY messaged them a lot, because he was doing volunteer work for them, and they were always cordial to JY because that’s the way they are with everyone, but there was no “friendship” there. They were never involved in his personal life in any way, which is normally required to actually have a “friendship”. Social media has blurred that definition by “friending” people.
My source was also clear – at no time did Yaniv have access to the girls’ personal social media accounts or their passwords. To this day, Yaniv claims he had access to all of it.
According to Yaniv, the way JY ended up working for Cimorelli was much different. While working for Karotz, a company that produced “smart rabbit” devices that could connect to the internet, play music, and communicate between each other, JY says he stumbled across one of the band’s cover songs and wanted them to do a commercial for Karotz. That didn’t happen and Yaniv later lost his job with the company for unrelated reasons.
Later on, while searching for an unrelated Cimorelli story online, JY stumbled across a story about a close family friend allegedly raping Dani. Yaniv contacted the band claiming to be a member of the media and told them he could clean that story up for them.
In JY’s version of events, the band was thrilled, and Yaniv was immediately given full access to their social media pages, including the girls’ personal accounts.
My source confirmed the false rape story did exist, and Yaniv was thanked for his help in getting it taken down, but everything else was false. There was never any access to the girls’ personal accounts, nor was there ever full access to their social media pages. Knowing JY’s past, it isn’t unlikely that JY was behind the rape story being published originally.
It’s unfair to say that everything Jonathan did for Cimorelli was bad. Yaniv was quite helpful in getting a lot of spam removed and some trolls banned. While the family was busy with tours or filming, JY helped them keep tabs on their social media activity and alerted them when something needed their attention. Yaniv seemed to have countless hours to scour the internet for anything harmful about Cimorelli, and did a decent job cleaning some of it up. The hard truth of the matter is the power probably went to JY’s head. Yaniv went from being helpful and rational to abusive and spiteful.
Above board, Yaniv spent a year with his head in the clouds. JY was someone with “power”, at least in his own mind. Behind the scenes, Yaniv was a predator, scouring the Cimorelli fan base for young girls to impress with his newfound authority. JY told people he worked for Cimorelli and could hook them up with the band, and he often bragged about having the power to shut people’s social media accounts down if desired. Yaniv abused this power by filing false reports against users to Twitter, using a Cimorelli email address as a credential. Several girls have accused Yaniv of asking them to file false reports on his enemies as well.
Several fans spoke up but Yaniv did what Yaniv does – ignored them and moved to new prey. Yaniv tried to cover his Twitter history by deleting messages, but you can still find mentions of him back as far as 2012.
During the time JY “worked” for Cimorelli there are countless tweets about Yaniv and to Yaniv telling him that he was abusing his power. There are numerous instances of fake accounts on Twitter and Ask.fm saying things like, “Do you guys know Jonathan from Cimorelli? He’s such a sexy beast”.
Yaniv even describes themselves as being “best friends” with the Cimorelli girls, despite the fact that they had only briefly met JY once. Yaniv still claims to have “known them for a while”. In fact, as recently as April 18, 2019, Yaniv stated he was still really good friends with the band and nothing has changed. JY even claims that he still helps them out occasionally.
There are complaints from fans about Yaniv trying to call themselves the seventh Cimorelli sister, a lie propagated by Yaniv directly. Remember how Yaniv tried to bribe fans with Skype calls? One of the things JY would often ask in return is for them to spread misinformation for him. There have been similar, albeit unconfirmed, rumours of Yaniv calling himself a brother of the Cimorelli girls. Note that Yaniv still used male pronouns during this time.
In late 2012, while JY’s father’s health was deteriorating, Yaniv contacted Cimorelli to ask to join them for Thanksgiving. Yaniv opened his message with a few sentences about how bad his dad’s health was and that he needed to get away. JY said that he really wanted to meet them and stay with them in Malibu for a few days to experience a “real” Thanksgiving. The family declined.
Another tall tale happened just a couple of months later. According to Yaniv, he told the family of plans to be in California for business, and when the family heard this, they offered to pick up him at the airport and take him to a hotel. The next day, as he tells it, they offered to pick him up and take him to their home in Malibu. On his 3rd day in California, the family invited him to attend church with them, which he states he did. This is all Yaniv’s version of events.
The truth is that Yaniv messaged the band in advance to say he would be in LA for a trade show and asked them for a ride from the airport to his hotel, as this would save him $130 each way in cab fare. They agreed to let him come over for a short meeting. There was an underlying desire to meet this person and see who was helping with their social media.
My source is crystal clear – they did not invite Yaniv over, he was there for a very short time, he did NOT spend the night, and they didn’t attend church with him. The Cimorelli family was polite about it yet still maintained distance.
Yaniv still talks about how Dani, 13 at the time, was attracted to him when they met. JY says she was staring, almost as if she was admiring JY, which of course, is patently false.
Yaniv’s obsession with the youngest Cimorelli continued for years. He told other girls how Dani was hormonal and dirty. Yaniv operates a Lauren Cimorelli “fan page” on Facebook and the most frequently mentioned Cimorelli girl is Dani. JY rarely comments on Cimorelli now, but as recently as January 2020 Yaniv mentioned Dani on his personal Twitter, saying he loves her so much.
People responded by calling him a creep and saying Yaniv was obsessing over Dani. Yaniv responded that all the girls were over 19.
They weren’t when JY started following them 6 years ago.
Despite being cut off from Cimorelli in 2013, and then formally shut out of the Cimorelli world in 2015 after the headphone debacle, Yaniv continues to tell people about ties to Cimorelli. In 2019, JY told The Post Millennial that he managed Cimorelli’s Facebook page from 2012 until 2017.
Why hasn’t the band spoken up before? 99% of fans don’t know JY, and the band has other problems with stalkers. There’s a real fear that speaking out publicly about JY could create a bigger platform than Yaniv has now. The band has asked to be removed from Yaniv’s resume on several occasions, and JY has ignored this each time. As of 2020 it is still there, and there isn’t much they can do. I highly doubt they’re giving good references though.
When asked if the band has considered legal action against JY, they responded that there isn’t much they can do as JY didn’t do anything directly to them, and most of the things JY did crossed international lines. Even if they could sue Yaniv for something, it would be nearly impossible to have a judgment enforced in Canada. It seemed better to let Yaniv fade into oblivion, but JY didn’t get the message.
Lacking the time or desire to fight Yaniv the way Yaniv wants them to doesn’t mean the Cimorelli family supports Yaniv. According to my source, the Cimorelli girls cut off JY for cyberbullying, and learned only recently about JY sending explicit messages and pictures to some of their fans. They were shocked and stunned that anyone would misuse that connection to prey on young girls. It is their hope that all girls who were harassed in this way will come forward and report it to the proper authorities, whether they were harassed by JY or anyone else. Times have changed, and cyber crimes are now being taken seriously across international lines.
The family is in that middle zone of fame. They’re well known in certain fields, and have certainly been successful, but they’re still a down to earth close family. They’re famous, but they’re also everyday people like you and me. They deal with daily security concerns, including people driving across multiple states to “accidentally” meet the girls. Tragically, they knew Christina Grimmie, a young singer that was shot by an obsessed fan outside a venue in Florida, a venue they had played just months before.
My source informed me of conversations between them and men who thought they had befriended the girls online but were conned by impersonators. These fake accounts would flirt with the men and make them think they were in relationships, sometimes for months, and later invite the men to the Cimorelli home, unbeknownst to the real Cimorelli family. One of these fake relationships went on for a full year, and the man ended up hitchhiking across the country to show up at their front door to meet his “girlfriend”.
While some have called out the Cimorelli family for not making a public statement about Yaniv, they fail to see that the Cimorelli family is still just a family. They have their own fears, and they know things that we don’t know.
It’s for those same reasons that Cimorelli has never told their story to media before, despite being approached multiple times by major media. They feared it would be sensationalized and misquoted. It took months of conversation to get inside sources to open up to me and consent to this story. Knowing what I know now, and being a father of a daughter myself, I can very much understand why.
Silence about Yaniv doesn’t mean they endorse Yaniv, and it certainly doesn’t mean silence towards the greater issue of bullying. The Cimorelli family has spoken out against cyberbullying on several occasions. They’ve participated in several fundraisers and played shows partnered with a company to raise awareness about the cause. Most importantly, perhaps, is that Cimorelli’s music and message is consistently positive and uplifting – a clear sign of who they really are.
We all have those things we wish we could delete from our internet history. To the Cimorelli family, Yaniv is one of those things.