FBI: Fraudulent rappers claimed association with Wu-Tang Clan to cheat hotels

A federal prosecutor in Georgia said a man received a seven-year prison sentence after he admitted stealing hospitality services by claiming to be part of Wu-Tang Clan and affiliated with entertainment company Roc Nation.

David H. Estes, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said 29-year-old Florida man Aaron Barnes-Burpo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Barnes-Burpo will serve 84 months in prison and be ordered to pay nearly $300,000 to 19 defrauded businesses.

A co-defendant, 52-year-old Walker Washington of Augusta, awaits sentencing in the case after also pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

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FBI officials said Barnes-Burpo and Washington admitted they fraudulently claimed to be musicians affiliated with Roc Nation, an entertainment and talent-management company founded by Jay-Z, and the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan as early as September 2019.

Authorities said they used stolen credit cards to rent luxury limousines and scam hotels, caterers and production studios of thousands of dollars in goods and services in multiple cities, primarily in the Southeast.

"For several weeks, these men defrauded multiple businesses by posing as famous musical artists and their retinue," Estes said. "Thanks to an alert hotel clerk, their phony hit parade came to an abrupt halt."   

FBI investigators in Atlanta received a tip from an Augusta hotel clerk in Nov. 2019.

"Hopefully, some of the businesses that were defrauded by this scam will be able to recoup some of their losses as a result of this sentence," Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said. "This is what happens when you seek a fleeting moment of fame at the expense of others. Neither law enforcement nor the community will tolerate it."

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