Chicago rapper G Herbo pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to participating in a scheme to use stolen credit card information to pay for things like luxury vacation rentals and designer puppies.
G Herbo, whose real name is Herbert Wright III, appeared before a Massachusetts federal judge via videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic. He pleaded not guilty to charges of identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Others charged in the case unsealed last week include G Herbo's promoter, Antonio Strong, and another Chicago rapper known as “Joe Rodeo” and “Rockstar Rodie.”
Authorities say G Herbo and the others used text messages, social media messages and emails to share account information taken from dark websites in order to bankroll a lavish lifestyle.
According to the 14-count indictment, the conspiracy allegedly started around March 2016, when Wright, 25, and his co-defendants allegedly obtained stolen credit card information from “dark web sites” and co-conspirators.
They also allegedly used fake IDs, driver’s licenses and e-mail accounts in the names of aliases and real businesses to fool companies and individuals, the indictment states.
“Generally, because the defendants and their co-conspirators provided authentic payment card information, the defrauded businesses and individuals successfully processed their transactions and provided the goods and services,” the indictment states.
Wright and his crew would allegedly pass the stolen information to each other through texts, social media messages, emails and phone calls, according to the indictment.
In one such case, Strong, identifying himself as Wright’s manager, allegedly contacted a pet company around Nov. 29, 2017, to order two designer puppies for Wright with a stolen credit card, the indictment states.
Over a text, Strong allegedly sent the pet company a screenshot of a fake driver’s license. When the company asked Strong to take a picture of himself holding up the license, he refused, the indictment states.
Growing suspicious, the company asked Wright to message them from his own Instagram account. Strong then sent a text message to Wright, telling him to “Check DM. Hurry just message that b*** hello,” the indictment alleges. Wright sent the message and confirmed the order with the company.
Bender allegedly used the same stolen credit card to pay for a car service to deliver the puppies to Chicago, according to the indictment.
In another case, Wright allegedly sent a direct message to Strong over Instagram around July 7, 2019, requesting a reservation for a private villa in Jamaica, the indictment states. Strong allegedly made the reservation using stolen payment information, and Wright allegedly stayed at the villa with his associates from July 7 to July 11.
The indictment outlines several other alleged fraudulent payments, including the rental of a Maybach S600 and Bentley CGTC by Sorrells on March 6, 2017.
Herbo, a South Side native, grew into something of a hometown hero as a teenager in the early 2010s, helping lead Chicago’s drill music to international prominence alongside fellow rappers and collaborators Chief Keef and Lil Durk. His music has been lauded for its no-frills, penetrative approach to the violent realities he faced growing up in the city, and, in more recent years, the toll that they took on his mental health.
G Herbo was named earlier this month to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list and appeared last month on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon to perform the song “PTSD” with Chance the Rapper.
Though the rapper has been slapped with weapons and battery charges in recent years, he’s most recently made headlines for his community outreach on the South Side, hosting food drives and back-to-school giveaways in West Pullman and Bronzeville.