Detroit rapper Big Money Rich accused in unemployment scam

- He talked about big money -- but now that rapper and another man are big trouble with the feds after allegedly duping the government out of $250,000 in a long-running scheme.

Authorities are saying some of the wealth of local rapper Big Money Rich, whose real name is Richard Martin, came from conning the government. He and another man, Tamar Collins, are facing several charges for allegedly stealing more than $260,000 in an unemployment insurance scam.

According to a criminal complaint, the Department of Labor and UIA's fraud division say the men used several IP addresses to file more than 260 unemployment claims online, spanning from March of 2016 up until October of 2017.

Martin and Collins are accused of having the UIA send them debit cards used to access unemployment benefits to several addresses in Detroit, Southfield and a few other suburbs. They would then cash out those debit cards at a Bank of America ATM on Seven Mile near Hartwell 

"This is a form of identity theft where none of these people applied for unemployment insurance," explains Peter Henning, Wayne State law professor. "And yet, the state fund was drained out of a quarter of a million dollars."

FOX 2 reviewed the complaint with Henning.

"That's why you see the federal prosecutors coming down so hard on it," he says. "They want to maintain the integrity of the government services so any dollar taken out of that, ends up coming out of employers pockets and ultimately consumers." 

The criminal complaint does not say how the men accessed those unemployment insurance claims, so we spoke with cyber security expert David Derigiotis to get some insight.

"Names, addresses, Social Security numbers, all sorts of information ranging from credit cards, places that we work -- this information has been compromised from data breach after data breach," he says. "So what happens is, this information is compiled, stored and put in a format where it can be purchased in a variety of forms on the deep web, on the dark web. That is most likely where this came from."

Martin and Collins are charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to defraud the government.

Henning says those charges could earn the men several years in federal prison.

"Many defendants in this type of instance where the government gathers this much evidence will cut a deal," Henning says. "And I expect the government will want to know where they got the identities from. Can they give someone up? The expectation in these kind of white collar crimes is you're going to flip on someone else."

FOX 2 reached out to the men's attorneys for comment but has not yet received a response.

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