A group of identity thieves posed as Wu-Tang Clan to scam hotels out of more than $100,000. They also scammed a Rolls Royce.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court they’d make bookings under the company Roc Nation and list themselves as Wu-Tang Clan. Among others they stiffed:
- The Georgian Terrace Hotel: $45,000
- Hyatt Regency Atlanta: $39,000
- A-National Limousine: $60,000 (for the Rolls)
Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Credit: Hyatt
However they were caught in, of all places, the Fairfield Inn and Suites Augusta, Georgia. They had booked 10 rooms, but hotel staff were skeptical that Wu-Tang Clan would be staying there so they called Roc Nation who didn’t know anything about the reservation. When the culprits tried to check in they were detained by police.
Walker Washington and Aaron Barnes-Burpo are 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.
…Two others with the group told deputies they were homeless men from Atlanta who had been recruited by the defendants to be bodyguards.
Hip hop groups need an entourage, whether they’re staying in a luxury hotel or a Fairfield Inn. And your staff aren’t likely to take fake credit cards for payment, so if you’re cash strapped of course you go hire homeless people.
The leader of this criminal clan will do 7 years of hard time. His co-conspirator is awaiting sentencing.
A Florida man has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison after admitting his participation in a scheme to steal hospitality services by claiming to be part of a famed rap group.
Aaron Barnes-Burpo, 29, of Crestview, Fla., was sentenced to 84 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Barnes also was ordered to pay nearly $300,000 to 19 businesses defrauded in the scheme, and must serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
Another version of this scheme by the way is to protect your identity by running up big bills at a resort without actually checking in and climbing out the hotel window to avoid paying the bill.
In case you’re inclined to party like the Wu Tang Clan at a Fairfield Inn and ultimately get caught, here’s how people commit credit card fraud.