The man behind a plane full of “private club” members so badly behaved in-flight that airlines refused to take them home has been revealed as an aspiring musician who’s already changed his name at least once and whose business dealings prompted warnings from the Canadian government.
James William Awad, who was known as Kevin Awad until 2019, is a 28-year-old from Montreal with a penchant for flashy clothes and self-promotion, his social media accounts reveal. He’s also a musician releasing songs under the name Senior; that Instagram account has 1million followers and consists mostly of clips from his music videos and photos of Mr Awad dressed expensively, counting money or posing broodingly in swanky locations.
He changed his name, he told The Independent in an email Saturday, “cause people always used to call me James. In reference to James Bond.”
Mr Awad was the mastermind behind a chartered Sunwing flight from Montreal to Cancun last week in which revelers were filmed drinking, vaping and dancing – all maskless. The flight was organised by Mr Awad’s members-only 111 Private Club, with passengers including influencers and reality TV personalities.
Footage from the flight sparked outrage, especially after many passengers allegedly later tested positive for coronavirus. The partiers were left stranded when Sunwing and other airlines, following their behaviour on the first flight, refused to take them back to Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in French, called the group “idiots” and “barbarians”. His government has launched an inquiry.
“Most people left Mexico already and are back in Montreal,” Mr Awad told The Independent on Saturday. “Some stayed in in Mexico to enjoy the sun a bit more and some are waiting for the big plane to return home. I am working on the plane right now. Almost done negotiations (sic).”
Those negotiations have been going on for days. As headlines and controversy swirled regarding the group’s travel plans, Mr Awad on Thursday released a statement on a blog seemingly created just this month.
“The 111 private club is a dream and a vision that I poured my heart and soul into creating,” he wrote. “This was my first travel event. I have significantly learned, and I am still learning from this experience. Learning from them is what makes the difference.”
A video he posted to Twitter on Friday, however, was more defiant – and arguably tone-deaf during the pandemic that has killed millions across the globe.
Mr Awad – who has fewer than 4,000 Twitter followers – wrote that “trying to make this world a better place, is a death bed, i guess (sic).”
He continued: “Did a new years travel event to make every body happy and build a system where every one can enjoy entertainment safely and together, spent hundreds of thousands, only to get killed by media again in the end.
“Building a decentralized system where every one can work together to build projects and make life better for everybody, and I know, it could be my final death bed. I’m still gonna do it…,” he wrote, ending the post with a sad emoji.
The words were set to music, one of his own songs as Senior in which the lyrics mention police and a “covid party”.
The entire incident called to mind the disastrous Fyre Festival, organised in the Caribbean nearly five years ago by another smooth-talking self-promoter, Billy McFarland. While that debacle took place years before the pandemic, travellers were similarly stranded after plans and promises from organisers turned out to be little more than wishful thinking.
One Twitter user, @j_jaj23, on Friday responded jokingly to a statement from Mr Awad, writing: “Ja Rule, Billy McFarland and the entire Fyre Festival wants to talk to you for a possible collab.”
This isn’t the first time Mr Awad has attempted a major undertaking, however – nor the first time he’s landed in hot water.
According to a glowing press release issued in April 2020 about his business efforts, the 28-year-old first began programming at age 11, later becoming a freelance developer at 14 and lying about his age to get work.
He tells The Independent that, growing up in Montreal, “my dream was to build video games.”
His skills, however, got him “his first real project” for “a bank in Mexico,” according to the 2020 release. “He was tasked with fixing and creating features for a user management system. Luckily, they never asked to speak on the phone with him, as they easily could have guessed his age.
“James ended up making a couple thousand bucks while working on multiple projects. He took all this money to buy C++ coding books and pay his parents mortgage for the year.
“At the age of 15, James got serious about playing video games. He found a trick in an online game by generating coins. James then sold the coins to a company in China. That company would then sell them to players all around the world.”
The release claims he also went on to start a successful online clothing store before setting up TripleOne, a “decentralized company where users around the world work together to build and manage it … James says that one day users of TripleOne will manage and operate e-commerce, real estate, and other businesses as a decentralized team.
“Each member will be paid out on a monthly basis based on the value brought to the table. Value such as coming up with business ideas, and fulfilling related work that comes with any business venture.”
The release calls the idea behind TripleOne “revolutionary” – but potential participants could be dissuaded by Mr Awad’s track record.
In a 2015 press release from Canada’s Financial Markets Authority, the body warned about the activities of Kevin Awad and KJRVS Inc., of which he is president and shareholder.
“Kevin Awad is not registered with the Authority,” the release said. “He cannot therefore solicit or act as a broker with Quebec consumers to invest. Kevin Awad reportedly approached people through his Facebook page claiming to offer a unique investment system.
“On his company’s webpage, investors could open an account that allowed them to submit securities proposals, determine the amount to invest in investment sessions, and more.
“Although it seems that the activities of the company KJRVS inc. have ceased and its website is no longer accessible, some information suggests that Kevin Awad could resume soliciting investors.”
Mr Awad, however, takes issue with the allegations.
“I lost only because I didn’t have money to pay lawyers,” he told The Independent. “Even the judge was surprised and asked me ‘where are your lawyers.’
“I am not guilty. I ended up having to pay a $2000 fine.”
In addition to his business and music dealings, however, the Canadian claimed on Twitter in November that his “book is coming out in 2025”. His personal website, james.com, and his LinkedIn page were both disabled for much of Friday, with Mr Awad citing high traffic volume.
His YouTube channel as Senior has fewer than 10,000 subscribers.