Fake rappers charged after skipping out on hotel bills

ATLANTA — In the words of legendary rapper Notorious B.I.G., “mo money, mo problems.” But having no money can be just as problematic, as a group of rap imposters has clearly shown.

The crew of Rolls Royce-riding identity thieves was caught posing as rap industry figures, scamming more than US$100,000 from exclusive hotels in southern United States.

According to a criminal complaint filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, the group told hotel workers they were with the entertainment firm Roc Nation, and listed the rap group Wu-Tang Clan with at least one of the hotels.

The Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta – where cast members from ‘Gone With The Wind’ famously stayed during the film’s Atlanta premiere – was left with a $45,000 unpaid bill. Similarly, representatives of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta told the FBI the group walked away without paying its $39,000 tab.

They had been driving a Rolls Royce Phantom rented from A-National Limousine, which reported a loss of nearly $60,000.

The group also used two Atlanta recording studios, which lost a total of more than $17,000, the complaint states.

Walker Washington and Aaron Barnes-Burpo have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Credit cards used in the scam included one that was stolen, and another that was likely fake, the complaint states.

The scam unravelled at a Fairfield Inn and Suites in Augusta, Georgia, where 10 rooms were booked, supposedly for an artist and his entourage. The reservation listed Roc Nation and the Wu-Tang Clan, prosecutors said. But the staff suspected a scam, and the hotel sales director called Roc Nation and was told the company was not associated with the men booking rooms.

After Barnes-Burpo tried to check in under the Roc National reservation, he and others in his group were detained by Richmond County sheriff’s deputies. Two others with the group told deputies they were homeless men from Atlanta who had been recruited by the defendants to be bodyguards. Others who travelled with them were not charged.

Court records do not list attorneys for the defendants who could be reached for comment on their behalf.


With file from The Associated Press

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