HOLLYWOOD HILLS—A rapper who fraudulently received $1.2 million in unemployment benefits was arrested on Friday, October 16, after he boasted in a YouTube music video about how he got rich from committing unemployment benefits fraud, officials said in a press release.
The rapper was identified as Fontrell Antonio Baines, 31, who uses the stage name “Nuke Bizzle.” He is from Memphis, Tennessee and currently lives in Hollywood Hills.
Baines was in suspicion of exploiting the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision of the CARES Act, which aims to provide unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who would not otherwise be eligible.
According to officials, Baines was able to get 92 debit cards that were pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million in unemployment benefits by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). Those debit cards were mailed to places in Beverly Hills and Koreatown where Baines had access.
“Baines and his co-schemers allegedly accessed more than $704,000 of these benefits through cash withdrawals, including in Las Vegas, as well as purchases of merchandise and services,” said the Department of Justice.
The Department added, “Baines bragged about his ability to defraud the EDD in a music video posted on YouTube and in postings to his Instagram account.”
Las Vegas police arrested Baines on September 23 and found out he had eight debit cards with seven of which were in other people’s names.
Baines is facing three felony charges including access device fraud, aggravated identity theft and interstate transportation of stolen property. If convicted of all of these charges, he would face a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ranee A. Katzenstein, chief of the Major Frauds Section.