*Most rappers embellish their bad behavior to sell more records, but a relatively unknown music group is now behind bars for actually committing the crimes they rap about.
According to Gothamist, 39 alleged gang members, all of whom are involved with the Brooklyn-based rap group Pop Up Boyz, were arrested earlier this week after being accused of running a $414,000 credit card scam.
Over the past year, authorities say that the defendants stole identities from the Dark Web and began creating their own fraudulent credit cards with the information. The group would then frequent high-end retail stores like Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue to purchase expensive goods in hopes of reselling them on the streets.
“The defendants went on a series of shopping sprees paid for by their victims, many of whom may have been unaware that their information was stolen until fraudulent charges appeared on their credit card statements,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
“In at least one case, an individual is accused of making nearly twenty trips to the same luxury department store to buy designer clothes and merchandise,” Vance continued, adding that Barneys accrued $258,000 in losses as a result of the scam.
Credit card fraud costs Americans about $8 billion each year, and scams involving luxury retailers are fairly common. However, it is extremely rare for fraudsters to brag about their crimes through music, let alone in such a blatant manner.
One of Pop Up Boyz’ songs, entitled “I’m a Scammer,” features lyrics such as, “I’m cracking cards ’cause I’m a scammer.” The song goes on to say, “Watch the money do a backflip, early morning up at Saks Fifth, you see it, you want it, you have it.”
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) April 27, 2016
Many people assumed that these types of credit card scams would end once the new EMV chip cards were introduced, but this has not been the case.
As NACS Online reported, some scammers are actually finding it easier to steal personal information now that the EMV chip cards are in use. Fraudsters have been posing as banks in emails asking for personal information to “confirm” new credit cards, which has added yet another element to these crimes.
As for the Pop Up Boyz, authorities believe that the scam was developed by younger members of the group who grew up with computers. Instead of robbing people on the streets, the young rappers thought it would be safer to rob people on the internet.
“It’s a little safer for them to do. It takes more of an investigation to uncover the fraud and the use of the fraud, so they hide behind it a little bit better, but we’re attacking it from all angles,” said NYPD Inspector Joseph Dowling.
When the group was arrested, investigators found them in possession of equipment that is used to manufacture forged credit cards. Three firearms were also recovered from the gang.