Nuke Bizzle aka Fontrell Baines is the rapper who was arrested in October 2020 and accused of running a government benefits scam.
A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern California on October 16 said Baines, 31, was facing charges of illegally gaining unemployment benefits through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The press release said that Baines is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, but now lives in the Hollywood Hills in California. If convicted on all charges, including access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and interstate transportation of stolen property, Baines could face up to 22 years in prison.
According to Baines’ Facebook page, he lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Baines said that he attended Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis and that he studied at the University of Memphis. In a Facebook post a few hours before his arrest was announced, Baines wrote about how he sends money to his friends who are currently in prison. Baines has close to 5,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and over 30,000 followers on his Instagram page.
Baines is accused of exploiting the government program through third parties including the stolen identities of persons in the Koreatown and Beverly Hills neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Investigators say that Baines and others accessed $704,000 in cash withdrawals using government-issued debit cards. In total, Baines had access to 92 different unemployment debit cards with 1.2 million dollars stored on them, the press release said. One cash withdrawal took place in Las Vegas, according to investigators. Baines was arrested in the city on September 23 and was in possession of eight unemployment debit cards, the statement says.
Investigators Says that Baines Bragged About His Alleged Fraud on the Song, ‘EDD’
The last section of the press release is dedicated to accusing Baines of bragging about committing benefits fraud in a song titled “EDD.” EDD is the initials of the Employment Development Department in California.
In the video for the song, Baines says at he does “My swagger for EDD.” When holding up a bunch of envelopes from the department, Baines said, “Go[ing] to the bank with a stack of these.” The press release says the lyrics are “presumably a reference to the debit cards that come in the mail. A second rapper in the video intones, “You gotta sell cocaine, I just file a claim….””
According to his Instagram page, Baines launched the song on September 11. Baines wrote in the caption, “Just last night I was selling P’s till I woke up to 300 G’s.”
Days Before Baines’ Arrest, a California Politician Warned of a Possible ‘Inside Job’ in an Unemployment Benefits Fraud Scam
Two days before Baines’ arrest was made public, ABC Sacramento reported that alleged culprits in an unemployment benefit scam in California “allegedly spent their newfound fortune in Las Vegas.” Fresno assemblyperson Jim Patterson told the station, “I’m not going to make the claim that the EDD is an inside job, but I’m getting close.”