Memphis Rapper Arrested After Bragging in Music Video About Scamming the Government For COVID Relief
A rapper has been arrested and faces federal charges after bragging in a YouTube music video about gaming the system.
Using a stolen identity, Fontrell Antonio Baines fraudulently applied and received $1.2 million in jobless benefits from a COVID-19 jobless relief program, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney’s Office for Southern California. Baines, 31, of Memphis, Tennessee, who goes by “Nuke Bizzle,” was arrested late last week.
“Nuke Bizzle,” who currently resides in the Hollywood Hills, was arrested for alleging a scheme to fraudulently obtain unemployment insurance benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Baines was slated to appear in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles last Friday.
According to the complaint, Baines possessed and used debit cards that were pre-loaded with unemployment benefits given to him by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The applications for these debit cards listed addresses to which Baines had access to in Beverly Hills and Koreatown.
The investigation discovered that at least 92 debit cards had been pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million in fraudulently obtained benefits mailed to those addresses. Baines and others allegedly accessed more than $704,000 from cash withdrawals, including in Las Vegas, and also utilized the cards to purchase merchandise and services.
Baines released a song and video titled “EDD” that bragged about what he had done to obtain fraudulent funds from the government. The rapper was arrested in Las Vegas on September 23, and the police officers found eight of the debit cards, seven of which were in the names of other people, on him.
In the video, Baines and another rapper brag about doing “my swagger for EDD.” They also hold up a stack of envelopes from EDD, and rap that they are getting rich by “go[ing] to the bank with a stack of these.” At another point in the video, the artists are seen checking the mail several times and walking away with envelopes that appear to be marked EDD as they rap, “You got to sell cocaine, I can just file a claim.”
The criminal complaint alleges he committed three felony offenses: access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and interstate transportation of stolen property. If Baines is convicted of all charges, he would face a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.
Watch the Nuke Bizzle’s “EDD” music video below.