G Herbo has been sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to participating in a scam involving stolen credit card information – a fraud that prosecutors say netted the Chicago rapper almost $140,000 in private jet flights, vacation lodgings and luxury car rentals.
Herbo, who’s had three top-10 albums on the Billboard 200 over the past four years, was sentenced by a Massachusetts federal judge Thursday after taking a plea deal last summer, which saw him plead guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of false statements to a federal official.
Prosecutors say Herbo (Herbert Wright) and others victimized real people and businesses by using stolen credit card info to fund an “extravagant lifestyle” that he flaunted on social media. That included $14,500 for a villa rental in Jamaica, and another $34,000 on renting cars like a Mercedes Benz 5560.
“He gave the impression that his use of private jets, luxury cars and tropical villas were the legitimate fruits of his booming rap career,” U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy said in a statement. “However, his lavish lifestyle was shamelessly built on deceit and fraud using stolen account information that inflicted substantial harm on numerous businesses, leaving a wake of victims burdened with financial losses.”
Thursday’s sentence was lighter than the one sought by prosecutors, who had asked the judge to send Herbo to federal prison for one year on top of three years of probation. In addition to probation, the rapper was also ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $139,968 for each count, as well as a $5,500 fine.
Herbo and five others were indicted in December 2020, charged with using real credit card info – including actual names, security codes and other private data – to successfully rack up charges. Prosecutors say businesses typically allowed the charges, leading to cardholders disputing them and credit card companies ultimately foisting the losses back on businesses.
The scam, operated from March 2017 through November 2018, was allegedly facilitated by an associate named Antonio Strong, whom Herbo would ask to procure vehicles (“whips”), or accommodation (“cribs”), in addition to other goods and services. One major charge was private jet travel; prosecutors say Herbo eventually used stolen cards to pay for four charters that totaled more than $80,000.
Herbo wasn’t the first hip hop star to face charges over credit card scamming. In 2013, Los Angeles rapper Guerilla Black was sentenced to more than nine years in prison over a fraud involving more than 27,000 stolen credit card numbers. And in 2019, federal prosecutors brought similar charges against Selfmade Kash, a Detroit rapper who had bragged in songs about being the “GOAT swiper”; he later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of probation.
In Herbo’s case, prosecutors did not allege that that the rapper himself purchased stolen card information, but they said he knew that Strong was doing so and repeatedly sought him out for that purpose.
“Wright provided Strong with money, Wright received flights, vehicles, and accommodations from Strong using Illicit Account Information, and Wright and Strong communicated frequently concerning their illicit transactions,” prosecutors wrote in one legal filing.
In one example, prosecutors said that Strong had texted Herbo to remind him “Don’t forget DARREN IS MY NAME” when using the stolen information to book luxury vehicle rentals. Herbo then responded via text: “I gotchu bro.”
Initially, Herbo had also been facing two counts of aggravated identity theft, more serious charges that each would have carried a minimum two-year prison sentence if he had been convicted. But those charges were dropped under last summer’s plea deal.
A rep for the rapper did not immediately return a request for comment from Billboard.