A rapper who posted a YouTube video bragging about bilking California’s unemployment system was charged Friday with doing just that.
Prosecutors say Nuke Bizzle, whose real name is Fontrell Antonio Baines, was part of a scam that collected at least $1.2 million in bogus payments from California, using the coronavirus pandemic to rack up the cash.
In the video, titled EDD, for California’s Employment Development Division, the rapper shows himself going to the mailbox with stacks of applications, and bragging that “you gotta sell cocaine, I just file a claim.”
The video, where he’s joined by fellow rapper Fat Wizza, even gives a shout-out to President Trump, who signed the law making it easier to claim unemployment during the pandemic and boosting the weekly cash payments.”
Fox News’s Tucker Carlson featured Mr. Baines’ video on his show Sept. 22, in a segment about welfare fraud.
A day later, Mr. Baines was arrested by police in Las Vegas. Police said he was in possession of seven bogus unemployment benefit cards in six other people’s names with him.
Federal investigators have since tied him and “co-schemers” to 92 cards.
Investigators said someone added a disclaimer to the YouTube video in the last few saying it “was created with props and was made for entertainment purposes.”
But at one point in the video an application is shown — and it turns out a bogus application was filed under that name, according to the charges filed.
Even before this week’s federal arrest, some commenters on YouTube had sensed something was amiss.
“I have never seen a singer become so committed to their singing before,” wrote one.
By Friday night, commenters were ready to convict Mr. Baines.
“Exhibit A at your trial,” wrote one.
Mr. Baines now faces federal charges of aggravated identity theft, fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property, because prosecutor say he carried cards with more than $5,000 on them from California to Nevada.
Investigators tracked down the house in Beverly Hills where Mr. Baines stayed — at $1,500 a night — when he was filming videos.
The landlord and another employee at the house identified Mr. Baines and his rap partner, Fat Wizza, who the landlord recalled as “fat something.”
After Mr. Baines left the home, he still had mail coming there. Mr. Baines and others would come back to wait on their “checks,” the landlord said.
Mr. Baines also faces charges in Las Vegas. He has pleaded not guilty to those.