ATLANTA — Two men learned the hard way that Wu-Tang is nothing to mess with.
Aaron Barnes-Burpo, 29, of Crestview, Fla., was sentenced to seven years in prison after he admitted to posing as a member of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan to defraud hotels out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in free services.
“For several weeks, these men defrauded multiple businesses by posing as famous musical artists and their retinue,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Thanks to an alert hotel clerk, their phony hit parade came to an abrupt halt.”
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In court documents and testimony, Barnes-Burpo and his co-defendant, Walker Washington, admitted that they “falsely portrayed themselves as affiliated with the Roc Nation production company and the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan as early as September 2019, and used those fictitious representations along with fraudulent and stolen credit cards to rent luxury limousines and defraud hotels, caterers and production studios of thousands of dollars in goods and services in multiple cities, primarily in the Southeast.”
The Georgian Terrace hotel and Hyatt Regency in Atlanta say they walked out on tabs worth $45,000 and $39,000.
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The scam unraveled Nov. 21, 2019, when staff at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Augusta became suspicious and alerted the FBI and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
Barnes also was ordered to pay nearly $300,000 to 19 businesses defrauded in the scheme and must serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Hopefully, some of the businesses that were defrauded by this scam will be able to recoup some of their losses as a result of this sentence,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This is what happens when you seek a fleeting moment of fame at the expense of others. Neither law enforcement nor the community will tolerate it.”
Washington, 52, of Augusta, is awaiting sentencing in the case after also pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud.
Cox Media Group