Rapper Arrested For Fraud After Rapping About His Unemployment EDD Scam

Brunilde Fioravanti
Ottobre 18, 2020

Department of Justice officials confirmed the arrest of the 31-year-old from Memphis, whose real name is Fontrell Antonio Baines.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Baines faces up to 22 years in federal prison.

Baines, originally from Memphis Tennessee but who now resides in the Hollywood Hills in California, was allegedly exploiting the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision of the CARES Act which the DOJ says is created to expand access to unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and others who would not otherwise be eligible. Baines also posted a music video on Youtube which has amassed more than 400,000 views in which he boasts about getting "rich off of EDD".

Investigators allege that is a reference to the debit cards that are mailed recipients of unemployment insurance. A second braggadocious rapper says: "You gotta sell cocaine, I can just file a claim". According to the affidavit, he consented to a search.

He was found with eight EDD cards bearing seven different names and $49,734 in the vehicle.

Las Vegas police also found $49,734 stashed under Baines' seat, according to the affidavit. The cards used by Bizzle were allegedly issued in other people's names, including those who were the victims of identity theft, according to the release. Baines pleaded not guilty to charges related to the arrest and was released on bond.

"Baines allegedly exploited the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision of the CARES Act, which is created to expand access to unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and others who would not otherwise be eligible", federal officials said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Ninety-two debit cards were sent to an address linked to Bizzle with more than $1.2 million in fraudulently obtained benefits, the affidavit states.

The rapper and others involved in the scheme accessed more than $704,000 of the $1.2 million in benefits by making cash withdrawals using the debit cards and using the withdrawn money to pay for goods and services.

Federal prosecutors said on Friday that Baines, a Memphis native residing in Hollywood Hills, fraudulently applied for more than $1.2 million in jobless benefits, including by using stolen identities.

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