The rapper G Herbo pleaded guilty Friday to his role in a scheme that used stolen credit card information to pay for a lavish lifestyle, including private jets, exotic car rentals, a luxury vacation rental in Jamaica, and even expensive designer puppies.
Under a deal with prosecutors, the 27-year-old Chicago rapper, whose real name is Herbert Wright III, entered a guilty plea in federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements.
In exchange, prosecutors dismissed several counts of aggravated identity theft.
He also agreed to forfeit nearly US$140,000, the amount he benefited from what prosecutors have said was a US$1.5 million scheme that involved several other people.
“Mr Wright used stolen account information as his very own unlimited funding source, using victims’ payment cards to finance an extravagant lifestyle and advance his career,” acting US Attorney Joshua Levy said in a statement.
Sentencing is scheduled for November 7, and he faces a maximum of 25 years in prison. A voicemail seeking comment was left with his attorney.
From at least March 2017 until November 2018, G Herbo and his promoter, Antonio Strong, used text messages, social media messages and emails to share account information taken from dark websites, authorities said.
On one occasion, the stolen account information was used to pay for a chartered jet to fly the rapper and members of his entourage from Chicago to Austin, Texas, authorities said. On another, a stolen account was used to pay nearly US$15,000 for Wright and seven others to stay several days in a six-bedroom Jamaican villa.
In court documents, prosecutors said G Herbo “used the proceeds of these frauds to travel to various concert venues and to advance his career by posting photographs and/or videos of himself on the private jets, in the exotic cars, and at the Jamaican villa.”
G Herbo also helped Strong order two designer Yorkshire terrier puppies from a Michigan pet shop using a stolen credit card and a fake Washington state driver’s licence, according to the indictment. The total cost was more than US$10,000, prosecutors said.
When the pet shop’s owner asked to confirm the purchase with G Herbo, Strong directed her to do so through an Instagram message, and G Herbo confirmed he was buying the puppies, authorities said.
Because the stolen credit card information was authentic, the transactions went through and it wasn’t until later that the real credit card holders noticed and reported the fraud.
G Herbo was also charged in May 2021 with lying to investigators by denying that he had any ties to Strong when in fact the two had worked together since at least 2016, prosecutors said.
Strong has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
G Herbo’s music is centred on his experiences growing up on the East Side of Chicago in a neighbourhood dubbed Terror Town, including gang and gun violence.
He released his debut mix tapes “Welcome to Fazoland” and “Pistol P Project” in 2014, both named for friends who had been killed in the city. His first album was 2017’s “Humble Beast,” and his latest is “Survivor’s Remorse”, released last year.
His 2020 album “PTSD” debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200.
G Herbo also started a programme in Chicago called Swervin’ Through Stress, aimed at giving urban youths tools to navigate mental health crises, after publicly acknowledging his own struggle with PTSD. In 2021 he was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 music list.
By MARK PRATT