Chicago-Area Music Promoter Charged Alongside Rapper G Herbo in Credit Card Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty

Rapper G Herbo performs on Day 4 of the Lollapalooza Music Festival, Aug. 1, 2021, at Grant Park in Chicago. (Photo by Amy Harris / Invision/AP, File)Rapper G Herbo performs on Day 4 of the Lollapalooza Music Festival, Aug. 1, 2021, at Grant Park in Chicago. (Photo by Amy Harris / Invision/AP, File)

A music promoter who was charged alongside Chicago rapper G. Herbo in an alleged wire fraud conspiracy has pleaded guilty to using stolen credit cards to pay for more than $2 million in private jet and yacht charters, designer puppies, hotel and vacation rentals and other luxury items.

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Antonio M. Strong, 31, of south suburban Lansing, pleaded guilty Wednesday in a Massachusetts federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud.

Strong — who was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2020 along with G. Herbo and four other co-defendants — admitted in his plea deal that he used stolen credit card information from hundreds of people to defraud hundreds of businesses across the country.

According to federal prosecutors, the alleged fraud scheme began in March 2016 and lasted until September 2020. Prosecutors wrote in Strong’s plea agreement that he and the other defendants would obtain illicit credit card account information from dark websites and other individuals, and that Strong would use fake names to purchase various goods and services.

Strong would also falsely state that he was from “Universal Music,” “Sony Music,” “Epic Music,” and other real and fictitious companies when he made reservations and made purchases using the illicit account information, prosecutors said.

“Generally, because Strong and his co-conspirators provided authentic payment card information, the defrauded businesses and individuals successfully processed their transactions and provided the goods and services,” prosecutors wrote in the plea agreement. “The actual cardholders discovered these transactions on their accounts and disputed the charges. The actual cardholders’ payment card companies then reversed their payments and charged back the transactions to the businesses and individuals, which consequently suffered losses in the amounts of the unauthorized transactions.”

According to the plea agreement, over a weeklong span in March 2017, Strong used stolen card information to book three separate private jet flights from Chicago, totaling more than $65,000. In November 2017, Strong allegedly used a stolen card to purchase a pair of Yorkshire puppies for more than $10,000.

Dozens more transactions are detailed in the plea agreement, including numerous hotel bookings, rideshare and taxi rides, pizza from a Lakeview restaurant and $40,000 for a security and bodyguard service.

G. Herbo, whose real name is Herbert Wright III, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed several counts of aggravated identity theft. He avoided jail time, but was sentenced to three years of probation.

G Herbo’s music is centered on his experiences growing up on the East Side of Chicago in a neighborhood dubbed Terror Town, including gang and gun violence.

He released his debut mix tapes “Welcome to Fazoland” and “Pistol P Project” in 2014, both named for friends who had been killed in the city. His first album was 2017’s “Humble Beast,” and his latest is “Survivor’s Remorse,” released last year.

His 2020 album “PTSD” debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200.

G Herbo also started a program in Chicago called Swervin’ Through Stress, aimed at giving urban youths tools to navigate mental health crises, after publicly acknowledging his own struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2021 he was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 music list.

Two other defendants have also pleaded guilty in this case, and two more are set to go to trial. Strong is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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