Man scammed hotels out of more than R1 million by pretending to be associated with Wu-Tang Clan

Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan performs during the 2019 Rolling Loud music festival at

Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan performs during the 2019 Rolling Loud music festival at Citi Field on October 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

  • A Florida man was sentenced to seven years in federal prison after scamming businesses by dropping some of the biggest names in hip hop.
  • Aaron Barnes-Burpo and his co-defendant told hotels they were associated with Wu-Tang Clan and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
  • Barnes-Burpo and his co-defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the DOJ said.
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A 29-year-old Florida man who pretended to be associated with some of the biggest names in hip hop to get free services at hotels was sentenced to seven years behind bars in federal prison, according to the Department of Justice.

Aaron Barnes-Burpo’s sentence comes after he and a co-defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, David H. Estes, acting US attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said in a press release.

Barnes-Burpo and his co-defendant, Walker Washington told authorities they said they were associated with the Wu-Tang Clan and Roc Nation, the agency founded by Jay-Z, during their scheming spree.

The duo used the “fictitious representations” in addition to fake and stolen credit cards to defraud rental companies and hotels across the South early as September 2019, according to the DOJ. The Atlanta Journal-Consitution reported, citing a criminal complaint, the spree included skipping bills at Atlanta hotels including $39,000 (R570,223) at the Hyatt Regency and $45,000 (R657,949) at The Georgian Terrace Hotel.

The luxurious scheme came to a stop in November of 2019, when employees at Fairfield Inn and Suites in Augusta, Georgia, became suspicious and notified the FBI and local sheriff’s office about their activity, the DOJ said.

“For several weeks, these men defrauded multiple businesses by posing as famous musical artists and their retinue,” Estes said in a statement. “Thanks to an alert hotel clerk, their phony hit parade came to an abrupt halt.”

In addition to his sentence, Barnes-Burpo also has to pay about $30,000 (R438,633) to 19 businesses and will be supervised for three years after his release. His co-defendant, Washington, is waiting to be sentenced, the DOJ said.