When the pandemic first came to light in early January 2020, most American’s continued with their lives as normal. When March 2020 came around, however, Covid-19 lockdowns started, leaving many people without jobs or access to money.
The United States government attempted to subvert the economic disaster they were facing by providing COVID-19 relief loans for business owners, entrepreneurs, and other people affected by the pandemic.
These Paycheck Protection Program loans had strict rules governing who could and could not apply to receive relief funds. The applicant must have had a certain number of employees and needed to agree to the limited number of ways they could use the loans.
Naturally, a lot of people that did not qualify for PPP loans or simply did not want to abide by the strict rules. As a result, some people borrowed money through traditional means such as installment loans or Small Business Administration loans and others decided to try and “finesse” the government by fraudulently claiming benefits. As the government began cracking down on false claims, many celebrities including rappers got caught red-handed trying to get some extra “C.R.E.A.M”. Read on to learn which rappers got busted for finessing COVID-19 relief loans.
1. Nuke Bizzle
Fontrell Antonio Baines, better known as Nuke Bizzle, was arrested on charges stemming from an alleged identity theft scheme around the Employment Development Department (EDD) and their Covid-19 relief funds.
The California rapper apparently created false businesses with stolen identities of real people. After stealing close to $1 million dollars, the rap artist went on to produce and release songs that discussed the scheme.
Soon after the release of the song, the feds picked him up on charges related to the incident. The rapper made his first appearance in court in October and the case is still ongoing.
2. Diamond “Baby Blue” Smith
Diamond Blue Smith, aka Baby Blue, is a Florida-based rapper that is part of the group Pretty Ricky and a cast member of “Love; HipHop: Miami”. The famous rapper was caught falsifying documents for a Paycheck Protection Program loan.
The federal government alleges that Smith obtained over $1.4 million dollars from the PPP loan program meant to cover expenses for those out of work due to Covid-19. Instead of using the loan as intended, Smith apparently purchase a $400,000 Ferrari.
The rap artist is currently facing charges of bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit both. At this time, he is on bond and awaiting trial.
3. Ace Hood
Another rap artist accused of finessing Paycheck Protection Program loans is Antoine Franklin McColister, better known as Ace Hood. While the PPP loans we set for individuals with employees, Ace Hood, who had none applied for the loan anyway.
Shortly after McColister obtained the loan, the mother of his child turned him in for falsifying documents related to the loan. While many people thought she was wrong to do that, others agreed that turning him in was the right choice.
The case is currently still under investigation by the FBI and local authorities.
4. Mo Fayne
Another “Love; HipHop” star, Maurice Fayne, aka Mo Fayne, was caught and sentenced for his role in obtaining PPP loans under false pretenses and operating a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme.
From 2013 to 2020, Fayne operated a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of millions related to a trucking company Fayne said he operated. Under mounting debts, Fayne applied for a PPP loan in 2020 stating his business had over 100 employees and millions of dollars in revenue.
The federal government and Small Business Administration soon learned of Fayne’s lies and of his Ponzi scheme. Instead of the PPP loan being used properly, Fayne had used it to pay off old debts.
In September of 2021, the rapper was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison. The Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s case stated he wanted to make Fayne an example to others looking to steal from the program.
Perhaps the worst offender on this list, Jacquavius “9lokkNine” Smith has been arrested on identity theft and aggravated theft for his role in stealing $10,000 in PPP loan money. The funds, meant for struggling businesses during the pandemic, were applied for by Smith using a stolen identity.
While the police were executing a search warrant at the home, they found multiple unregistered firearms that had been reported stolen or missing. Due to violations in Smith’s teenage background, he was unable to keep any firearm in his possession.
While Smith did plead guilty to the theft of the loans and the firearms charges, it would appear that the rapper is in more trouble than just that. During the FBI’s investigation, they also tied Smith to a string of gang activity in the Florida area. The rapper is currently in an Orlando jail awaiting additional charges of racketeering and attempted murder.