A Memphis rapper who bragged in his music videos about getting rich through unemployment fraud has been arrested on charges of fraudulently obtaining $1.2 million in COVID-19 unemployment benefits.
Nuke Bizzle (real name Fontrell Antonio Baines), 31, was charged Friday with allegedly obtaining and using debit cards that were pre-loaded with unemployment benefits administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The debit cards he received were issued in the names of third-parties, according to a 32-page complaint filed against him by U.S. State Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California.
The investigation found that 92 debit cards pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million in fraudulently obtained benefits were mailed to addresses in Beverly Hills and Koreatown that Baines had access to, according to an affidavit submitted by the Department of Justice.
Baines was not shy about having an abundance of cash on hand. In a series of since-deleted posts, his Instagram account reportedly showed him holding stacks of $100 bills, wearing expensive gold watches and boasting of renting a $6,500/month Hollywood Hills home. He also posted a music video on YouTube for a track entitled “EDD” in which he brags about doing “my swagger for EDD” while holding up a stack of envelopes from the agency and getting rich by “go[ing] to the bank with a stack of these,” according to information provided by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). When he was arrested on Sept. 23 in Las Vegas, Baines had eight debit cards in his possession, seven of which were in the names of other people, according to the DOJ affidavit filed in the case.
He is being charged with three felony offenses – access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and interstate transportation of stolen property. If convicted of all charges, Baines would face a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison. His arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 5.