A rapper who boasted in a music video about getting wealthy by fraudulently making use of for unemployment advantages has been accused of utilizing stolen identities to acquire greater than $1.2 million in jobless advantages, the authorities stated.
Fontrell Antonio Baines, 31, who performs as Nuke Bizzle, was arrested on Friday and charged with three felonies: entry system fraud, aggravated id theft and interstate transportation of stolen property, federal prosecutors said. If convicted, he faces as much as 22 years in jail.
Mr. Baines, who’s from Memphis and lives in Los Angeles, used stolen identities to use for unemployment advantages by way of California’s Employment Development Department, the U.S. lawyer’s workplace for the Southern District of California stated in an announcement.
The cash was distributed as a part of a federal program that prolonged unemployment advantages to self-employed employees, unbiased contractors and others who discovered themselves and not using a security internet throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The authorities stated that 92 debit playing cards loaded with a complete of greater than $1.2 million in advantages had been mailed to addresses that Mr. Baines had entry to in Beverly Hills and the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles. Mr. Baines gained entry to greater than $704,000 by way of money withdrawals, a few of which had been made in Las Vegas, the authorities stated.
When the Las Vegas police arrested Mr. Baines on Sept. 23, he was in possession of eight debit playing cards, seven of which weren’t in his title, in keeping with courtroom paperwork.
Mr. Baines didn’t reply to requests for touch upon Sunday. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.
In a music video for the track “EDD” that was posted to YouTube on Sept. 11, Mr. Baines and one other rapper, Fat Wizza, boasted about getting “wealthy off of E.D.D.,” an obvious reference to the Employment Development Department.
The rappers brag in the video about their “swagger for E.D.D.” whereas holding stacks of E.D.D. envelopes, and about getting wealthy by going “to the financial institution with a stack of those.”
A disclaimer under the video says that it was made with props “for leisure functions.” It will not be clear when the disclaimer was added.
Mr. Baines additionally bragged concerning the scheme in movies posted to his Instagram accounts, in keeping with an affidavit.
Fraud linked to id theft accounted for about 3 p.c of all unemployment claims final yr, in keeping with authorities audits. But as unemployment has skyrocketed due to the coronavirus disaster, so have fraudulent claims for unemployment help.
In September, Arizona stated it had flagged as probably fraudulent multiple million of two.4 million unemployment claims — greater than 40 p.c. During a six-week interval over the summer season, Colorado discovered that 77 p.c of latest claims submitted beneath the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program weren’t professional.
Since March, Washington State has turned up practically 87,000 circumstances in which cybercriminals have stolen or purchased different folks’s identities and used them to file fraudulent unemployment claims. From January 2018 to June 2019, there have been simply 184 such circumstances.