CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The U.S. Department of Justice said seven members and associates of a local hip-hop group, "FreeBandz Gang" or "FBG," were indicted on federal charges in connection with a $1.2 million bank and identity theft fraud scheme.
The indictment charged 23-year-old James Willingham Jr., 27-year-old Damonte Withers, 23-year-old Deandre Howze, 22-year-old Jeffrey Monteith, 23-year-old Quadarius Thomas, 25-year-old Laerek Williams and 25-year-old Nemiah Davis. The seven men, all of Charlotte, were each charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to the DOJ, the defendants are all members and associates of FBG. The members of FBG used social media and Youtube to raise their profile by posting hip-hop music videos. In the music videos and social media images, the FBG allegedly showed guns, large quantities of cash, jewelry and cars.
The indictment accuses the defendants, of engaging in fraud to help pay for their lavish lifestyles.
According to the DOJ, Withers, Howze, Monteith, Thomas, Williams and Davis defrauded financial institutions through a cash-checking scheme involving worthless checks.
Withers and Thomas are also charged with firearms-related offenses.