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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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TMZ

Kevin Hart's former personal shopper was arrested on Wednesday, after allegedly defrauding the actor/comedian out of nearly $1.2 million.

Dylan Jason Syer - who was hired by Hart in 2015 - was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court, New York, on charges including grand larceny, first and second degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the first and second degree and identity theft in the first degree.

Syer, 29, allegedly used Hart's credit cards to help fund his lavish lifestyle.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Syer made over a million dollars in unauthorized purchases using the comedian’s credit cards between October 2017 and February 2019. She said the actor's credit card was given to Syer "only to make authorized purchases" on his behalf.

Syer initially started small by making authorized purchases for the actor, then he escalated to make extravagant purchases for himself and to transfer large sums of Hart's money into his personal bank accounts.

He then purchased Louis Vuitton bags, "at least 5 Patek Phillipe watches valued at more than $400,000" and a Sam Friedman painting, which he sent by FedEx to his home and business.

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Queens District Attorney's Office

He also purchased at least 16 Bearbrick collectibles dolls, clothing, shoes and jewelry, according to the D.A.

"The investigation revealed that the defendant used his business's credit card processing account to make unauthorized charges on Mr. Hart's credit card. Once those credit card charges were processed by Syer's bank, the proceeds poured into Syer's checking account," the D.A. said.

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Queens District Attorney's Office

Following Syer's arrest on Wednesday, investigators searched his home, and recovered around $250,000 in cash and other items.

Katz issued a statement, saying, "I want to send a strong message to the defendant and others who seek financial gain through the victimization of others, that my team and I are committed to aggressively pursuing these actions and separating those who commit crimes from their ill-gotten gains, and returning those funds, where practical, to support the victims.”

Syer is due back in court on February 17. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

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Polk County Sheriff

The Polk County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of an 11th suspect who received $2,000 in federal CARES Act Funds intended for residents who were financially impacted by Covid-19.

Saget Genoret, 33, a Publix employee in Lakeland, was arrested after he used a falsified letter on a Publix letterhead to apply for the $2,000 benefits. Genoret claimed Publix cut his hours due to the pandemic.

During a Friday afternoon press conference, Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrests of 10 suspects who fraudulently obtained Covid relief funds.

Judd said the fraud started with 49-year-old Phyllis Tirado -- a manager of McDonald's located at 416 West Central Avenue in Lake Wales.

TIrado didn't apply for funds herself, but she allegedly falsified a letter for a McDonald's worker whom she "felt sorry" for.

The employee, 34-year-old Ebony Chaney, received $2,000 in Covid relief funds from the federal CARES Act distributed through the Polk County CARES ACT program.

Authorities say Chaney didn't qualify for the funds she received.

"[Tirado] felt sorry for her employees," Judd explained. "Thought they could use some extra money so she dummied up a letter for one."

The form was then altered to remove Chaney's information and copies were handed out to employees at Publix, a literacy program, and the Scott Lake Health & Rehabilitation.

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"In some instances," Judd said, "they took signed forms, scanned them in... and then wrote the information in. interestingly enough, in one of them, they spelled Phyllis' name wrong."

Judd added: "Yesterday, when we started arresting people, if you were in line at McDonald's, and you got your hamburger and it was cold, it's because we were arresting people."

The investigation, which began in June, is still ongoing. Judd said more arrests are expected. He issued a word of warning to anyone who stole money from the CARES Act: "If I were you, I would beat feet down to the county and give that money back before we figure it out."

He said the judge is more likely to be lenient with those who returned the funds before sheriff's deputies show up at their door with arrest warrants.

The suspects were charged with Obtaining Property by Fraud, Grand Theft, and Criminal Use of Personal ID.

One man, Mervin Suttle, 36, of Bartow, was also charged with fraudulently receiving food stamps and unemployment.

Another suspect, Patricia Taylor, 38, of Lakeland, worked as an LPN at a nursing home.

All of the suspects lost their jobs following their arrests.
 

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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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Gwinnett County PD

A former employee at a Kroger store in north Georgia is accused of scamming the supermarket chain out of nearly $1 million.

Gwinnett County police say Tre Brown, 19, created more than 40 returns for $980,000 worth of non-existent items, and spread the refunds out over several different credit cards.

The refunds ranged from $75 to more than $87,000, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Corporate employees tipped off law enforcement officers after they noticed the fraudulent transactions while the employee who normally flags unusual transactions was on vacation.

Brown used his ill-gotten proceeds to buy clothes, sneakers, shotguns, and two cars.

Police say the Atlanta teenager had just bought a brand new Chevrolet Camaro when he was arrested Thursday. He has since been released from hail on $11,200 bond, CBS News reported.

Police say a "large sum of money" was returned to Kroger following the arrest.

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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.

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Instagram

A Detroit man is accused of stealing unemployment benefits and flaunting his luxury lifestyle in photos on Instagram.

Andre Taylor Jr., of Farmington Hills, was indicted Wednesday and accused of stealing unemployment benefits intended for Detroit residents who lost their jobs during the coronavirus outbreak.

Taylor, 27, who used the Instagram handle @_bigjuno, is accused of defrauding the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency and credit card companies and going on shopping sprees with the stolen loot.

Taylor stole the identities of area residents and filed for unemployment debit cards starting in April, during the early weeks of the pandemic, according to the Detroit News.

The debit cards were mailed to Taylor's home and to the homes of relatives, prosecutors said. He is accused of paying cash bribes to mail carriers to give him the debit cards and obtain the names of people who lived along their mail routes, prosecutors said in the indictment.

Taylor used the debit cards to purchase expensive clothing, shoes, jewelry and luxury cars, then shared photos of his substantial stolen wealth on Instagram.

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Instagram

In one photo, Taylors wears a diamond-encrusted Audemars Piguet timepiece while flashing a handful of cash next to a table. On the table appears to be a blue Michigan unemployment insurance debit card.

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Instagram

In another photo, Taylor leans against a white Bentley while wearing expensive designer clothes and a Louis Vuitton bag. The post includes the hashtag #F***THEFEDS.

He was arrested in Los Angeles in June and charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

At the time of his arrest, he told federal agents he had assets totaling $1,800 and worked at a Novi construction company in Detroit, earning about $400 per week, according to court paperwork.

He was released on bond and ordered to stay in Detroit, avoid committing any more crimes and he can't be in possession of firearms.

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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."
 

FayesVision/WENN.com

The Los Angeles Police Department has opened an investigation into Dr. Dre's estranged wife, Nicole Young, for cleaning out one of their corporate accounts.

Nicole is being investigated by the LAPD for alleged embezzlement, sources close to the case tell TMZ.

Dre's business partner, Larry Chatman, recently filed a police report, claiming Nicole, 50, withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from their business account without authorization.

Larry had previously alleged similar allegations in legal letters fired off to Nicole's attorneys in the past few weeks, and the LAPD launched an investigation into the case.

Phil Lewis/WENN.com

In the report to the LAPD, Dre's team claims Nicole cleaned out a corporate account, stealing $385,029 from the label she co-owned with Dre.

As TMZ previously reported, Dre, 55, called out Nicole for making 2 bank withdrawals -- which totaled the $385k -- after filing for divorce. Nicole claims she had a right to withdraw the cash because her name was on the corporate account.

WENN

Nicole, pictured during happier times with Dre, could face up to 20 years in prison if she is convicted of embezzling funds from the now defunct business.

Nicole's legal team tells TMZ Larry's claims against her are nothing but a smear attempt and a PR stunt because, so far, she is losing the court battle. Her attorneys maintain she's done nothing wrong.

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Instagram

Rapper Tip "T.I." Harris has been ordered to pay $75,000 for his participation in a fraudulent cryptocurrency coin offering.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fined Harris $75,000 for his role in the unregistered and fraudulent investment scam.

In a statement released on Friday, The SEC named T.I. in a complaint for promoting a fraudulent ICO venture alongside his social media manager William Sparks, Jr..

The SEC's order requires Harris to pay a $75,000 civil monetary penalty and not participate in coin offerings or sales of digital-asset securities for at least five years.

"In a settled administrative order, the SEC finds that T.I. offered and sold FLiK tokens on his social media accounts, falsely claiming to be a FLiK co-owner and encouraging his followers to invest in the FLiK ICO. T.I. also asked a celebrity friend to promote the FLiK ICO on social media and provided the language for posts, referring to FLiK as T.I.'s "new venture." The SEC's complaint alleges that T.I.'s social media manager William Sparks, Jr. offered and sold FLiK tokens on T.I.'s social media accounts, and that two other Atlanta residents, Chance White and Owen Smith, promoted SPARK tokens without disclosing they were promised compensation in return."

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Instagram

Harris, 39, did not comment on his most recent brush with the law. But he did pause during a recording session to share bad financial advice with his Instagram followers this week.

Harris noted the empty racks and shelves at high end stores, and he advised his followers to stop spending government PPP funds 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."