A rapper who bragged in a YouTube music video about getting rich from an unemployment scam was arrested Friday on federal charges of fraudulently applying for more than $1.2 million in jobless benefits, the Department Of Justice officials said.
Fontrell Antonio Baines, 31, of Memphis, Tenn., is known online as Nuke Bizzle. Federal officials say he is currently a resident in the Hollywood Hills and is expected to make his first court appearance Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Baines was arrested Sept. 23 by Las Vegas police and was found to be in possession of eight EDD debit cards, seven of which were in the names of other people, according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint against Baines.
In the video, which apparently was posted on Sept. 11, prosecutors say Baines rapped about doing “my swagger for EDD” and getting rich by “go[ing] to the bank with a stack of these” while holding up a several envelopes from EDD. A second man in the video raps, “you gotta sell cocaine, I just file a claim…”
The criminal complaint alleges Baines exploited the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provision of federal coronavirus relief, or CARES Act, that was supposed to expand unemployment benefits to freelance and gig workers.
According to the affidavit, the investigation turned up at least 92 EDD debit cards preloaded with more than $1.2 million in fraudulent obtained benefits mailed to addresses that Baines had access to in Beverly Hills and Koreatown. Federal investigators say Baines and his co-schemers allegedly withdrew or spent more than $704,000 in cash from these cards.
Baines has been charged with access device fraud, aggravated identity theft and interstate transportation of stolen property. If convicted as charged, he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.