LOS ANGELES — A Hollywood Hills rapper was arrested after fraudulently applying for more than $1.2 million in unemployment benefits, at times using stolen identities, officials said Friday.
Rapper Nuke Bizzle, whose real name is Fontrell Antonio Baines, 31, “boasted in a YouTube music video about getting rich from committing unemployment benefits fraud,” the Department of Justice said.
He was later arrested on suspicion of obtaining California Employment Development Department debit cards that were issued to other people, including those whose identities were stolen.
Baines, who’s originally from Memphis, Tennessee, got at least 92 EDD debit cards that had been loaded with more than $1.2 million and mailed to addresses he had access to in Beverly Hills and Koreatown, according to a DOJ news release.
The rapper and others involved were able to access more than $704,000 of the amount by making cash withdrawals with the debit cards, including in Las Vegas, and using the cards to pay for merchandise and services, officials said.
“Baines allegedly exploited the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision of the CARES Act, which is designed to expand access to unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and others who would not otherwise be eligible,” federal officials said.
In a music video titled “EDD,” Baines is seen holding up what appears to be a stack of envelopes from the unemployment agency and rapping, “My swagger for EDD” and “got rich off of the EDD.”
Another rapper in the video at one point says, “You gotta sell cocaine, I just file a claim.”
Las Vegas police arrested Baines on Sept. 23, finding he had seven debit cards in other people’s names, according to the Justice Department.
Baines is facing charges related to access device fraud, aggravated identity theft and interstate transportation of stolen property. He could face a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison if convicted of all the charges.