39-year-old Amir "Kafani" Rashad is the lead defendant in the federal fraud case. Per reports, Kafani worked with co-defendants, Susan Arreola-Martin, Christopher Pool, and Tyrone Jones, to orchestrate what is described as a "wide-ranging fraudulent loan scam" that started in 2018.
"In each of the instances being investigated, an unknown subject or subjects stole personal identifying information from the victim, used that information to open a bank account in the victim’s name, and established an email account using the victim’s name," FBI Special Agent Armando Delgado-Campos stated. "The subjects would then use the victim’s identity to obtain a refinance loan, using the victim’s property as collateral."
According to the FBI, at least seven victims were targeted by the scam. They came to police with information proving someone was making purchases and getting fraudulent loans in their names. Two victims claim that a $325,000 loan was taken out in their names without their knowledge. Another victim alleges that there were repeated attempts to have loans taken out and bank accounts started in her name for nearly four months.
Kafani and the suspects allegedly used the money to buy gold bars and reportedly bought a single gold bar worth nearly $1 million from a victim in Beverly Hills. This prompted the FBI to create a sting operation by sending $300 in silver bars to a location where $24,000 worth of gold has been ordered. While doing surveillance on the location, authorities saw Tyrone Jones pick up the faux gold in a car registered to Kafani's brother.
This was supported by conversations collected through a wiretap of Kafani's phone. During one conversation, the rapper and an associate allegedly discuss stealing an older woman's identification.
"We good, we just need a granny," Kafani reportedly said.
A month later, 69-year-old, Arreola-Martin, impersonated the woman and set up a fraudulent loan in the victim's name.
This was enough evidence to arrest the suspects and search their properties. Kafani made his first appearance in court for the crimes last week and was released on a $250,000 bail.
Kafani rose to popularity when the hyphy movement started to gain national attention in the mid-2000s. In 2013, while filming a video, the rapper was shot several times leading to him being paralyzed. Yet the following year, Kafani was able to regain his ability to walk. This became an inspirational story as he used the help of a robotic exoskeleton to train to run marathons.
"Just being able to take those first few steps was groundbreaking," Kafani told the Oakland Tribune in 2014. "It felt like I had my life back. I was able to stand; I could look people in the eye."