- The Washington Times
Friday, December 2, 2022

Established Titles, a company that sells certificates of ownership of souvenir plots of Scottish land with the accompanying laird or lady title, has been dropped by some YouTube content creators since the operation might be a scam.

Established Titles owns plots of land in Scotland and also promises in its YouTube promotions to donate money to charities Trees for the Future and One Tree Planted, which work to mitigate deforestation worldwide.

The souvenir plots of land are considered too small to be registered for ownership, and a disclaimer on the Established Titles website explains that “This is a purchase for a personal dedication for a souvenir plot of land. You may choose to title yourself with the title of Lord, Laird or Lady.”

The titles are intended, Established Titles told NBC News, to be “a fun gift, meant for a good laugh and not to be taken too seriously.”

Scott Shafer, a YouTube content creator, uploaded an expose on Nov. 23 alleging that some people believed they were receiving a genuine title through their purchase from Established Titles.

“I know a lot of people have been saying, you know, ‘Everyone should know this is just a gag gift.’ But I did some research online, and there were a lot of people who clearly believed they had legitimately bought land in Scotland through this,” Mr. Shafer told NBC News.

Established Titles has since uploaded a page on its website addressing the allegations. 

In briefs to YouTube partners for ad reads, Established Titles notes things to avoid saying, including claims that the noble titles are part of the British peerage, that the titles can go on official documentation, and claiming that the company itself plants trees instead of specifying its charity partners.

“It is not possible to technically move the legal title of a souvenir plot to our Lords and Ladies, which eliminates worries about tax or other implications of owning a tiny souvenir piece of land. … Your dedicated plot of land is part of an estate that Established Titles has purchased and pledged to conserve forever,” the company explains further.

The firm has bought six land plots, exceeding 200 acres in total.

Established Titles has lost some of its content creator promotional partners and addressed the scam allegations in a letter to YouTube creators.

“We have recently come under a targeted, completely unfounded attack based on bogus claims, from someone making a career out of personal attacks in an attempt to gain viewership. … If you want to cancel any existing bookings or future contracts with us, we will accept all cancellations without question, but with great regret,” Established Titles wrote.

Paige Christie, a YouTube channel commentator who is staying on with Established Titles, told NBC News the main point of confusion stems from verbiage around who is planting trees.

“When you change that from first person to third person, and you change that verbiage to ‘they plant a tree’ or ‘Established Titles plants a tree,’ it puts a level of ownership onto Established Titles that wasn’t there previously, when you read it in first person,” Ms. Christie told NBC News.

Charity partner Trees for the Future, based in Maryland, notes on its website that donations from Established Titles have led to the planting of 2.1 million trees.

Those trees were planted in sub-Saharan Africa, the charity told Scotland’s National newspaper.

It reports that One Tree Planted does grow trees in Scotland, having planted more than 40,000 of them in a project near the Scottish-English border.

Established Titles and Trees for the Future have not yet responded to requests for public comment on the matter.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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