(WHDH) — A rapper who boasted in a YouTube music video about getting rich by committing unemployment benefits fraud was arrested for allegedly bilking the COVID-19 jobless relief program, authorities said.
Fontrell Antonio Baines, who uses the stage name “Nuke Bizzle,” was charged by criminal complaint with fraudulently applying for more than $1.2 million in jobless benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, including by using stolen identities, according to the United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California.
Baines exploited the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance 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, prosecutors allege.
The 31-year-old possessed and used debit cards pre-loaded with unemployment benefits administered by the California Employment Development Department, according to an affidavit. The debit cards were issued in the names of third-parties, including identity theft victims, and the applications for the cards are said to have listed addresses in which Baines had access in Beverly Hills and Koreatown.
Evidence gathered during the investigation indicated that at least 92 debit cards that had been pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million in fraudulently obtained benefits were mailed to Baines’ addresses, according to the affidavit. Baines and his co-schemers allegedly accessed more than $704,000 in benefits through cash withdrawals, including in Las Vegas.
The affidavit further alleges that Baines bragged about defrauding the EDD in a music video posted on YouTube and in postings to his Instagram account, under the handles “nukebizzle1” and “nukebizzle23.”
When Baines was arrested in Las Vegas on Sept. 23, he was said to be found in possession of eight debit cards, seven of which were in the names of other people.
If convicted, Baines could face up to 22 years in federal prison.
An investigation remains ongoing.
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