OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Bay Area rapper Kafani was among six people sentenced to prison for a loan fraud and identity theft scheme, the United State Department of Justice announced Tuesday. Hicks, who also goes by the names Mark Hicks and Amir Rashad, was sentenced to 87 months in prison for his role in the scheme.
According to plea agreements, Hicks directed a team of people who stole about $2 million from banks and lending institutions. Hicks admitted to being at the center of the conspiracy.
Hicks, or Kafani, is an Oakland-based rapper who released his first album in 2007. He released popular songs such as “Fast (Like a NASCAR)” and “She Ready Now.” He was shot while filming a music video in 2013 and has since been confined to a wheelchair.
The scheme involved obtaining details about victims, including identifying information and credit history, and using it to apply for mortgage refinance loans in their names. The DoJ said there were nine victims and Hicks created fraudulent bank accounts, emails, and phone numbers in their names to apply for the loans.
“Hicks admitted that he used these methods to victimize nine individuals when fraudulently applying for eight loans. In some cases, the loans were not approved. In other cases, Hicks convinced lending institutions to forward funds to fraudulently-created bank accounts,” the DoJ said in a press release.
Hicks was released from prison in Nov. 2017 and began orchestrating the scheme months later, according to the DoJ. He impersonated the victims in at least 13 phone calls with banks, lending institutions and gold dealers.
He mainly used the stolen funds to buy gold bars that his coconspirators, Hicks’ half-brother Demarcus Hicks and Dionysius “Donnie” Costello, sold for cash, according to the DoJ. Demarcus Hicks and Costello also admitted to taking part in other aspects of the scheme.
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Each of the defendants in the case were ordered to pay $1,904,988.79. Judge James Donato handed down the following sentences:
- Mark “Kafani” Hicks, 42, of Oakley received 87 months
- Demarcus Hicks, 38, of Stockton received 48 months
- Dionysius Costello, 38, of Berkeley received 54 months
- Susan Arreola-Martin, 72, of Antioch received 84 months
- Leif Skorochod, 48, of San Francisco received 14.5 months
- Christopher Pool, 57, of Stockton received 15 months