A rapper known as Nuke Bizzle was arrested on Friday for an alleged unemployment benefits fraud scheme — after he had boasted about that type of fraud in a YouTube music video, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Bizzle, whose real name is Fontrell Antonio Baines, 31, was arrested for allegedly obtaining fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The release states the Bizzle allegedly applied for $1.2 million in jobless benefits and used stolen identities, according to the release.
Bizzle is accused of exploiting a provision in the CARES Act called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which expands access to unemployment benefits to those who would otherwise be ineligible for the benefits. This includes self-employed workers and independent contractors, according to the release.
An affidavit states that Baines used debit cards that had been pre-loaded with unemployment benefits from the California Employment Development Department. The cards used by Bizzle were allegedly issued in other people’s names, including those who were the victims of identity theft, according to the release.
Ninety-two debit cards were sent to an address linked to Bizzle with more than $1.2 million in fraudulently obtained benefits, the affidavit states. Bizzle and co-conspirators were able to allegedly access more than $704,000 of the benefits, according to the release.
Prior to his arrest, Bizzle — under the usernames nukebizzle1 and nukebizzle23 — posted videos to his Instagram account and on YouTube, in which he bragged about defrauding benefits programs in a music video. In the video, he holds up a wad of envelopes from the Employment Development Department and claims he got rich by going to the bank with those envelopes — likely a reference to the debit cards that had allegedly been sent to him.
Another rapper states, “You gotta sell cocaine, I just file a claim.”
If convicted, Bizzle could face a maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison. It was not immediately clear if Bizzle had retained an attorney.
Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security.