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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.

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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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In an unprecedented monetary overhaul, the Federal Reserve is preparing to deposit "digital dollars" directly to every American.

According to Zerohedge, the Fed is preparing to "radically overhaul" its monetary system to reduce inflation and stimulate the economy amid pandemic shutdowns.

While the Democrats and Republicans bicker over how many more trillions to pay into another pandemic relief package, the Fed is proposing a monetary tool that they call recession insurance bonds, which will be wired instantly to Americans.

The Fed would activate a lump sum that would be divided equally and distributed to households in a recession, according to Zerohedge.

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The money would come from insurance bonds purchased by the Fed on the open market. The digital dollars would be deposited directly into household apps.

"It took Congress too long to get money to people, and it's too clunky," said former Fed official Simon Potter.

"The Fed could buy the bonds quickly without going to the private market. On March 15 they could have said interest rates are now at zero, we're activating X amount of the bonds, and we'll be tracking the unemployment rate -- if it increases above this level, we'll buy more [bonds]."

During a speech to the Chicago Payment Symposium on Wednesday, Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester said, "legislation has proposed that each American have an account at the Fed in which digital dollars could be deposited, as liabilities of the Federal Reserve Banks, which could be used for emergency payments."

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But there's a catch. According to Zerohedge, the Fed giveth and the Fed taketh away (you drug dealers will want to pay attention to this part).

Once physically currency is replaced by digital dollars, the Fed would then be able to scrap "anonymous" physical currency entirely, and track every single banknote from its "creation" all though the various transactions that take place during its lifetime. And, eventually, the Fed could remotely "destroy" said digital currency when it so decides.*

Oh, and say goodbye to your banks, as the Fed would both provide loans to consumers and directly deposit funds into their accounts, effectively making the entire traditional banking system obsolete.*

*(bold emphasis mine)

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Atlanta entrepreneurs Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker appear to have closed their new restaurant before it even opened.

A loyal reader emailed a photo that shows the RHOA cast members took down that gigantic "Blaze" sign over their shuttered steak & seafood restaurant in Southwest Atlanta.

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If you recall, Kandi and Todd announced the opening of their newest establishment in the Camp Creek Marketplace last month. They also placed a "NOW HIRING" sign in the window.

But, according to my spy, the big Blaze sign came down days ago and there is no indication that the restaurant will be opening its doors anytime soon.

The new restaurant was inspired by their infant daughter, Blaze Tucker, who was delivered via surrogate on Nov. 22, 2019.

The couple already own and operate three "Old Lady Gang" soul food restaurants around the metro Atlanta area.

My spy noted that Blaze steakhouse may have been in conflict with Blaze Pizzeria restaurant chain in Atlanta.

But a quick search of Atlanta businesses turns up other "Blaze" establishments, such as Blaze strip club, the Atlanta Blaze men's lacrosse team, Blaze radio, and Blaze Sports America, among others.

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Another explanation is that the funding for Kandi and Todd's new restaurant fell through. They managed to secure funding for Blaze restaurant through the government's PPP coronavirus stimulus relief package.

According to Screenrant.com, the couple received between $150,000 and $350,000 in PPP funds set aside for struggling small businesses amid the pandemic.

The loans were approved on April 29 and the funds were disbursed through TruFund Financial Services, despite the fact that Kandi allegedly has a net worth of around $30 million.

According to Screenrant.com, Kandi and Todd shouldn't have been entitled to the PPP loans in the first place since they pass themselves off as a wealthy couple.

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Instagram

Rapper Tip "T.I." Harris shared advice for people taking advantage of the government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Harris noted the empty racks and shelves at high end stores, and he advised his followers to stop spending money on brand names and buy property instead.

"All y'all getting all this money from the government... ain't no more mink coats in the stores. And it's summertime - ain't that some sh*t? Ain't no more Cartiers. It ain't no more Louboutins, no more Louis [Vuitton]... Go get you some property please! Please y'all, go buy some property."

T.I. held up a baseball cap with the word "Owner$hip" on the front, before urging his followers to buy a "patch of dirt" in their neighborhood. "It ain't got to have a house on it," he said. "Just buy it. Just buy it and hold it.

In unrelated news, there are reports that federal agents are knocking on doors and arresting people who fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits using false information.

Residents in California report that agents are disguised as utility workers and census workers to catch people who committed unemployment fraud.
 

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NFL wide receiver Josh Bellamy is among 57 people charged with Covid-19 relief fraud after FBI officials say he misused PPP funds to buy Gucci and other high end luxury goods.

The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the $2 trillion Cares Act, which provided $349 billion in PPP loans to struggling small businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic via the Small Business Association (SBA).

The FBI says Bellamy participated in a scheme to fleece the federal government out of $24 million in Paycheck Protection funds.

Bellamy, 31, was cut by the NY Jets 2 days ago. It isn't clear if his termination is linked to his arrest.

Prosecutors say Bellamy and his associates applied for $24 million in PPP funds for their businesses. They received $17.4 million - but neither Bellamy nor his associates used the money for their businesses.

Instead, Bellamy spent $95,000 on custom jewelry, $5,381 at Gucci and $2,014 at Dior. He also dropped more than $62,000 during a recent trip to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, TMZ reported.

Authorities say Bellamy recruited others to apply for giant loans using false information -- then took kickbacks from each borrower.

Bellamy owns Drip Entertainment - an events promotion company - that hasn't been active since 2019.

Bank records show Bellamy withdrew large amounts of cash - around $302,000 between May and July 2020.

If convicted on all charges, Bellamy faces decades in prison.

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Justice.gov

A Florida man who used COVID-relief funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to purchase a Lamborghini has been arrested.

Authorities say David T. Hines, of Miami, Florida, fraudulently obtained $4 million in PPP funds and used part of those funds to purchase a $318,000 Lamborghini Huracan Evo sports car.

The feds seized the Lamborghini and $3.4 million from bank accounts at the time of his arrest.

Hines made his initial court appearance before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge John J. O'Sullivan in the Southern District of Florida on Monday.

He was formally charged with one county of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds.

The complaint alleges Hines applied for $13.5 million at Bank of America on behalf of his six moving companies. He claimed he had 70 employees with a monthly payroll of $4 million.

Applicants who are approved for PPP loans are required to deposit the funds into a separate bank account created specifically for the loan so the feds can see where the money is spent.

The loans are forgivable if the money is spent on mortgage, rent, and utilities and at least part of the loan is spent on payroll.

The complaint alleges that the bank approved three of the applications for $3.9 million and began depositing hundreds of thousands of dollars into Hines's bank account.

Hines allegedly transferred some of the funds to his savings account within days and wired $318,497 to Lamborghini Miami, a luxury car dealership on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach on May 18.

The Lamoborghini was jointly registered to Hines and his business, records show.

Bank records show Hines spent some of the cash to make purchases at luxury retailers, on jewelry, and on rooms at luxury resorts in Miami Beach.

The federal complaint further alleges that Hines did not use the money to make payroll payments that he claimed on his loan applications.

Hines' companies showed monthly revenue and expenses averaging about $200,000 - much less than the millions he claimed on the loan applications.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Berger said scammers are able to exploit and defraud the Small Business Association (SBA) because the SBA doesn't bother to check any of the claims made on applications.

"In the ordinary course of providing the loan guaranty, neither the SBA nor any other government agency checked IRS records to confirm that the applicant had paid the payroll taxes represented in the PPP applications," says the criminal affidavit.

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Kanye West recently bragged that he was a billionaire. But watchdog groups are questioning why Kanye received $5 million in small business loans.

They say Kanye's PPP loan is a conflict of interest, given his vocal support of President Trump and his visits to the White House.

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According to the Dailybeast.com, Kanye received a multi-million-dollar loan as part of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help small businesses retain their employees and pay their utilities.

Kanye, who recently announced he is running for president, is among a list of millionaires and billionaires who took advantage of the federal program that was intended to help small businesses.

The list of companies with under 500 employees that obtained PPP loans of more than $150,000 was made public on Monday.

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Yeezy LLC, a California company, is listed on the Treasury's log as a recipient of a loan worth between $2 million and $5 million.

The company self-identified as being Black male-owned with 160 employees. West's Yeezy sneaker division earned over $1.5 billion last year.

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Both Kanye and his wife, Kim Kardashian, claim to be billionaires, according to Forbes magazine.

"I am so proud of my beautiful wife Kim Kardashian West for officially becoming a billionaire," Kanye tweeted.

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner's company is also on the list after receiving millions in a PPP loan.