Oh sure, the video is awesome, but then there's the follow-up, here and here. It seems that Vayner is something of a huckster-in-training:
Now let's turn to Vayner's charity, Youth Empowerment Strategies -- not to be confused, of course with this Youth Empowerment Strategies. Why are there two? Well, we're gonna break it down real simple: one is real, and the other isn't.
Vayner's site has a "Charity Navigator Four Star Charity" logo from Charity Navigator, an organization that ranks good charities and weeds out frauds. We called them this morning. "Oh, we've heard of them," Leonie Giles, a program analyst there, said immediately. They asked Aleksey's site (which lists a non-existant Manhattan address on its "Donate Another Way" page, btw) to take down the fake "Four Star" logo two months ago, and are considering legal action against them. Giles recommended we contact the freaking Connecticut attorney general.
Vayner lists on his resume his self-published book, Women's Silent Tears, which he calls a "gendered look at the Holocaust." You can't read the whole book online, but you can preview the first few pages. We examined a section on euthanasia, and guess what. The entire passage is lifted from the online Holocaust Encyclopedia.
Of course, the real joke is that the only people who seem to have fallen for Vayner's schtick were the ones at the Yale admissions office.
Bonus: But wait, there's more!
Turns out Aleksey is somewhat infamous among Yalies as the "Crazy Prefrosh" profiled in 2002 by Yale's Rumpus tabloid. If you thought Vayner's credibility was shaky after seeing the video, wait til you read the profile. It is devastating. For starters, his name back then was Aleksey Garber. He claimed to have spent much of his childhood in a Tibetan monestary in post-Soviet Uzbekistan before moving to the United States, where he was employed by both the Mafia and the CIA. He was also a tennis instructor whose students include Harrison Ford and Sarah Michelle Gellar. And oh yeah: he met the Dalai Lama along the way and is the second greatest martial arts fighter in the world.