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Local rapper admits to making unauthorized purchases to help boost music career

Posted at 6:38 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 18:41:29-05

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore rapper admits to making $4.1 million in unauthorized purchases from a company's credit card to help boost his music career.

Chad Arrington, also known as “Chad Focus,” of Randallstown, Maryland, pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud conspiracy in connection with a scheme to use a company credit card to make over $4.1 million in unauthorized purchases.

According to his plea agreement, Arrington was employed by a company as a Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) Specialist from 2011 to August 2018. As an SEO Specialist, Arrington was responsible for promoting and marketing the company's products and services online.

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The company assigned Arrington an American Express company credit card after he signed an agreement in which he agreed to use the credit card only for business expenses related to the company.

Arrington admitted that from at least January 2015 through August 2018, Arrington and four co-conspirators used the credit card for fraudulent purchases, including to promote his hip-hop artist alter-ego, Chad Focus and Focus Music Entertainment and to make unauthorized purchases that benefited them each personally.

The plea agreement stated that Arrington used the credit card to make over $1.5 million in unauthorized purchases from entities and accounts controlled by co-conspirators. The co-conspirators would then in turn, kick back hundreds of thousands of dollars to Arrington by funneling cash payments to him and to accounts controlled by Arrington.

In order to conceal the scheme, Arrington asked the co-conspirators to use computer software to make false entries on the credit card billing statements in order to conceal the recipient of the payments from Arrington’s supervisor and the company.

In addition, Arrington forged the signature of his supervisor on his credit card billing statements to make it appear as though he had received approval for certain purchases. Arrington then sent those false payment authorizations to other employees who relied on the authorizations to ultimately pay off the outstanding balance of the credit card.

As detailed in his plea agreement, Arrington will be required to pay restitution in the full amount of the victim’s losses, $4,142,435.31.

Arrington faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud conspiracy.