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Louis Vuitton US

A North Carolina woman allegedly went on a shopping spree with nearly $150,000 she illegally obtained from a coronavirus relief loan.

Federal prosecutors say Jasmine Johnnae Clifton, 24, spent most of the money on high end luxury bags and shoes at Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus and jewelry stores.

Clifton appeared in court on Monday and was later released on $25,000 bond, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

The press release detailed how Clifton lied on an application to fraudulently obtain relief funds for an existing business during the coronavirus lockdowns.

She falsely claimed $350,000 in gross revenue for her online clothing business, Jazzy Jas, despite filing paperwork in 2020 that shows the business was dissolved, according to ABC News.

The loan application was approved in early August for $149,900, which she later spent during shopping sprees at over two dozen retailers, including Ikea and Rooms to Go.

On Feb. 17, Clifton was indicted on wire fraud in relation to a disaster benefit and fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits.

If convicted, she faces 30 years in prison on each charge, plus a possible $1,250,000 fine.

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A woman who believed she was communicating with pop singer Bruno Mars via text messages was scammed out $100,000 -- her entire savings.

The 63-year-old victim, a resident of Texas, believed she was "in love" with the 35-year-old singer.

The woman told police she assumed she was in contact with 11-time Grammy Award winner "Bruno Mars" after she received text messages showing Mars performing while he was on tour.

In September 2018, "Mars" asked the woman to send him a $10,000 check to help cover his touring expenses, and she agreed, according to authorities.

She went to a local branch of the Wells Fargo bank in North Richland Hills and withdrew a cashier's check made out to "Basil Chidiadi Amadi," a person described as a "friend of the band," according to authorities.

The woman deposited the check into an account at JPMorgan Chase bank.

Two days later, "Mars" contacted the woman again and asked for another $90,000, which she withdrew in a cashier's check that was made out to "Chi Autos" at the request of "Mars," according to TMZ.

The $90,000 check was deposited on September 14, 2018 into a separate bank account at JPMorgan Chase, according to investigators.

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TMZ

Investigators subpoenaed bank records and traced the two JPMorgan Chase accounts to Nigerian scammer Chinwendu Azuonwu, 39, and his co-conspirator Basil Amadi, 29, both residents of Houston.

Azuonwu, 39, appeared in court on Tuesday to face charges of impersonating Mars on Instagram to swindle the victim out of her life savings.

Azuonwu said he did not know how $90,000 was deposited into his account, according to the criminal complaint. He also denied knowing Amadi or the woman.

Azuonwu and Amadi are charged with third-degree felony money laundering, KPRC-TV reported. Azuonwu's bail was set at $30,000.

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Instagram

U.S. defense lawyers representing Nigerian scammer Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, applied to withdraw from his case.

Gal Pissetzky and Vicki Podberesky said Abbas stopped communicating with them after he retained a new attorney to represent him.

The attorneys announced their decision after months of negotiations with the federal government, according to Premium Times.

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Instagram

Abbas, 37, was arrested in June in Dubai and extradited to Chicago to face money laundering and wire fraud charges.

Video shows a stunned Abbas being taken from his luxury apartment in Dubai by special operations forces and Emerati police officers in June.

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Instagram

His lawyers told a judge that Abbas is the father of five children, including a child who lives with his mother in Virginia. But the judge ordered Abbas detained until his trial, and said Abbas would not be allowed to stay with a girlfriend's uncle in Homewood, Illinois, because he is a flight risk.

The federal prosecutor said Abbas "never visited" the girlfriend or their child in the United States and there is no evidence that he has ever even met this 'uncle.’
 

Abbas' lawyer said his client is a social media influencer who earned his millions legally by promoting high end luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi on Instagram.

After his arraignment in Chicago, Abbas was transferred to Los Angeles, California where his trial is set to begin in May 2021.

According to an affidavit obtained by Premium Times, Abbas and his co-conspirators stole hundreds of millions of dollars from 1.9 million victims around the world.
 

Abbas, pictured above in his $10,000-a-month apartment at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, also convinced hundreds of social media users around the world to set up bank accounts to launder that money.

He used the money to finance his extravagant lifestyle which he flaunted on Instagram.com.

Authorities seized his fleet of cars including a Ferrari, Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Lamborghini. He rocked $150,000 diamond-studded wristwatches and he purchased a Rolls-Royce SUV just to ferry his luggage to the airport.

Abbas regularly mocked his 2.5 million followers, telling them to get their money up and referring to them as "peasants."
 

Abbas and his crew swindled victims by sending emails that appeared to come from law firms.

"Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran was duped into sending $400,000 cash via a wire transfer after receiving a phishing email that she mistakenly believed was an invoice for a real estate transaction.

According to a Secret Service agent who investigates Nigerian email crimes, victims are tricked into sending money to bank accounts that the criminals control.

"These crimes are heartbreaking," Brian Krebs, the editor of KrebsOnSecurity.com, told The New York Post. "Victims send payments to the wrong place and, nine times out of ten, the money is gone."

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A former U.S. postal service employee plead guilty to stealing gift cards and cash from U.S. mail letters.

Markeyta McAllister, 30, pleaded guilty on Dec. 17 to Obstruction of United States Mail for stealing thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards between July 7, 2014 to December 3, 2019.

"While most U.S. Postal Service employees serve Americans with integrity and honesty – McAllister did not," said U.S. Attorney Byung J. 'BJay' Pak. "By opening peoples' mail to steal money and gift cards, McAllister betrayed both the citizens she supposedly served and the reputation of her fellow employees."

Pak says McAllister, of Jefferson, Georgia, opened mailed letters to steal prepaid Visa gift cards and cash from letters addressed to residents in Duluth, Georgia, where she worked at a U.S. mail facility.

McAllister later used the stolen gift cards at stores such as Kroger and Walmart.

After pleading guilty, McAllister confirmed that she "fully underst[ood] that it is a crime, punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, to knowingly or willfully obstruct or delay the mail, or to steal or attempt to steal mail of any kind."

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Atlanta US Attorney's Office

The feds are cracking down on Georgia employees who submitted fake medical excuse letters that claim they fell ill after testing positive for Covid-19.

Santwon Antonio Davis, of Atlanta, was charged with wire fraud for emailing a phony Covid-19 medical excuse letter to his employer in May 2020.

Davis, 35, also pleaded guilty to bank fraud related to the scheme to defraud a mortgage company while he was out on bond for the Covid-19 wire fraud charge.

"The defendant caused unnecessary economic loss to his employer and distress to his coworkers and their families," said U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak. "We will take quick action through the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force to put a stop to Coronavirus-related fraud schemes."

Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said Davis caused "undue harm to the company he worked for and their employees," after the corporation sent employees home and shut down the Atlanta facility for cleaning.

Employees were paid to stay home - a loss in excess of $100,000 to the corporation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Georgia.

According to the complaint, the defendant was hit with an additional charge for submitting fraudulent documentation to obtain benefits from his employer prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Davis allegedly submitted a paid bereavement leave claim for the death of his child in the fall of 2019. But a subsequent investigation determined the child did not exist.

Davis' arrest is among the first in Covid-19-related employee fraud investigations currently underway in Georgia.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General.

"The FBI and our federal and state partners remain vigilant in detecting, investigating and prosecuting any fraud related to this crisis we are all facing," said Hacker.

Prince Williams/Wireimage

A federal judge in Massachusetts has allowed rapper G Herbo to travel to New Jersey to visit his pregnant fiancee, Taina Williams.

Instagram blogger Akademiks broke the news on Wednesday, after the rapper appeared before a judge via Zoom and pleaded not guilty on fraud and identity theft charges.

Herbo, real name Herbert Wright III, was arrested last week and released on $75,000 bond.

The judge expressed concern that Herbo's $75,000 bond set during his initial court appearance was too low.

"I know that Mr. Wright earns one million dollars a year; it's a substantial sum," the prosecutor told U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson.

The judge restricted Wright's travel from his home in California to Georgia to visit his son, Yosohn, with ex-fiance Ariana Fletcher.

Wright will also be allowed to travel to New Jersey to visit Williams, who is four months pregnant with his second child. He began dating Williams in 2018.

The news stunned Wright's fans who were unaware that Williams was pregnant. The 22-year-old Instagram model is the daughter of reality TV personality Emily Bustamante and stepdaughter of rapper Fabolous.

Wright is one of 6 defendants in the federal case involving hundreds of stolen credit cards and over 100 businesses defrauded to the tune of $1.5 million.

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Lil Wayne came out in support of President Donald Trump, and now he has just been hit with a federal weapons charge and could face serious prison time if convicted.

The internet is questioning the timing of the federal charges.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida has charged the rapper with 1 count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

According to TMZ, the charge is for a December 2019 incident where federal agents Searched Weezy's private jet at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. He was a passenger on that plane, which made a stop in Florida on its way to California.

At the time, Wayne's attorney said his client was "cleared" to leave even though guns and drugs were reportedly found on the plane.

Some are questioning why the feds waited to charge Wayne of being wrongfully in possession of a weapon and ammunition.

He is scheduled to appear in court next month. TMZ reached out to Lil Wayne's team for comment, but they did not respond.

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Screenshot: YouTube

Federal authorities arrested rapper Nuke Bizzle after he appeared in a music video flashing stacks of cash and bragging about defrauding the federal government to obtain unemployment benefits.

"I just got rich off of EDD/ I just woke up to 300 Gs," he bragged. "Unemployment so sweet/ We had 1.5 land this week." Rapper Fat Wizza added: "You gotta sell cocaine, I can just file a claim."

Bizzle, whose real name is Fontrell Antonio Baines, is accused of stealing more than $1.2 million in unemployment benefits preloaded on 92 debit cards from the Employment Development Department (EDD).

The hip-hop artist was arrested Friday and charged with access advice fraud, aggravated identity theft, and interstate transportation of stolen property.

According to a criminal complaint, Baines, who lives in the Hollywood Hills, was arrested in Las Vegas while riding in a Cadillac Escalade. He was detained with 7 EDD debit cards in other people's names.

According to the complaint, Baines filed claims for 92 EDD debit cards preloaded with more than $1.2 million in other people's names. The cards were mailed to multiple addresses that Baines had access to.

Baines posted a disclaimer under his "EDD" music video on YouTube: "This video was created with props and was made for entertainment purposes."
 

Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

A member of the hip-hop group Pretty Ricky was arrested and charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Diamond Blue Smith, also known as "Baby Blue", was hit with federal charges after investigators say he attempted to obtain $24 million in PPP funds to buy lavish items, including a Ferrari.

Smith, 36, is accused of fraudulently obtaining a coronavirus relief loan and then using the money to purchase a $96,000 Ferrari among other luxury items.

Smith, of Miramar, Florida, along with Tonye C. Johnson, of Pennsylvania, appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Georgia on Monday.

According to the federal complaint, Smith and Johnson falsified loan documents to obtain a $426,717 loan under the Federal Paycheck Protection Program for his company Throwbackjersey.com LLC.

The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Trump to help small businesses suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith also applied for another loan in the amount of $708,065 for another company, Blue Star Records LLC. And he allegedly applied for loans in the names of other individuals, using falsified documents.

The Ferrari and other luxury items, as well as his bank accounts were seized by the feds.

Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Smith, 2nd from right, is best known as a member of R&B/hip hop group Pretty Ricky. The other members are (L-R) Slick 'Em, Spectacular and Pleasure.

The group enjoyed modest success in the mid-2000s with their platinum singles "Grind With Me" and "On The Hotline".

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Toledo PD

The founder of an Atlanta-based Black Lives Matter group was arrested and charged with misappropriating over $200,000 in donations to the social justice organization.

Sir Maejor Page, 32, was taken into custody in Toledo by the Toledo FBI office on a warrant for money laundering and wire fraud. He is accused of spending $200,000 in BLM donations on clothing, a security system, and property.

Page, who is albino, made it easy for the feds to catch him by bragging on social media. He posted photos of himself on private jets, wearing expensive clothing, and club hopping in Atlanta.
 

Page founded Black Lives Matter Atlanta in 2016. The Atlanta-based group took in more than $466,000 in public donations in a matter of months.

Authorities say Page immediately went on a spending spree, racking up thousands of dollars in personal purchases. Page told his Facebook followers that every dime went to protest the killing of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer.

"In sum, Page has spent over $200,000 on personal items generated from donations received through BLMGA Facebook page with no identifiable purchase or expenditure for social or racial justice," FBI agent Matthew Desorbo wrote in the federal complaint.
 

The complaint detailed Page's expenditures. He spent $2,065 on tailored suits and accessories. He paid $112,000 as a down payment on a house for himself in Toledo. He also bought the property next door. He filled the house with $12,000 worth of furniture and a security system set him back $1,310.

The house was purchased in the name of Hi Frequency Ohio, an organization for which Page served as treasurer and general counsel.

Page was released Friday on $10,000 unsecured bond pending trial. If convicted on all charges he faces between 10-20 years in prison and fines between $250,000-500,000 each.