Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Chad Arrington, a/k/a “Chad Focus,” age 31, of Randallstown, Maryland, on federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with allegations that he used a company credit card to make over $4.1 million in unauthorized purchases.
According to the indictment, Arrington was employed by Company 1 as a Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) Specialist from approximately 2011 to August 2018. As an SEO Specialist, Arrington was responsible for promoting and marketing Company 1’s products and services online. Company 1 assigned Arrington an American Express company credit card (the “credit card”) after Arrington signed an agreement in which he agreed to use the credit card only for business expenses related to Company 1.
The indictment alleges that from at least January 2015 through August 2018, Arrington and four co-conspirators used the credit card for fraudulent purchases, including to promote the Chad Focus brand and to make unauthorized purchases that benefitted them each personally. According to the indictment, Arrington used the credit card to make over $1.5 million in unauthorized purchases from entities and accounts controlled by Co-Conspirator 2 and Co-Conspirator 3, and then Co-Conspirator 2 and Co-Conspirator 3, in turn, kicked back hundreds of thousands of dollars to Arrington by funneling cash payments to Arrington and to accounts controlled by Arrington.
For example, the indictment alleges that Arrington used the credit card to purchase sound equipment, studio kits, instruments, and music technology, which he then used to create an artist alter-ego “Chad Focus,” and produce a number of hip-hop songs through the company he formed, Focus Music Entertainment LLC. Arrington allegedly used the credit card to make additional unauthorized purchases: from online streaming platforms that offered services for artists to pay to have the platforms artificially increase Arrington’s song play counts on other music platforms; to purchase “likes,” “followers,” “tags,” and “views” across social media and viewing platforms; to purchase services from a company that promoted mixtape videos and singles, his image, and music; and to make unauthorized payments to multiple billboard companies to display images of Arrington and his website throughout the United States and to promote Chad Focus and Focus Music Entertainment LLC. Arrington allegedly utilized the credit card to make more than $250,000 in purchases related to a bike-sharing business, including electric bikes, hover boards, and scooters. The indictment further alleges that Arrington used the credit card for concert tickets, various unauthorized international and national travel expenses, including hotels, airfare, restaurant bills, luxury vehicle rentals, and nightlife expenses, and for travel expenses and airline tickets for the benefit of Co-Conspirators 1 and 2.
In order to conceal the scheme, Arrington allegedly asked Co-Conspirator 1 and Co-Conspirator 4 to use computer software to make false entries on the credit card billing statements in order to conceal the recipient of the payments from Arrington’s supervisor and Company 1. In addition, the indictment alleges that Arrington forged the signature of his supervisor on his credit card billing statements to make it appear as though he had received approval for certain purchases when, in fact, he had not. According to the indictment, Arrington then sent those false payment authorizations to other employees who relied on the authorizations to ultimately pay off the outstanding balance of the credit card.
If convicted, Arrington faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud conspiracy and for each of two counts of wire fraud; and a mandatory minimum of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for each of four counts of aggravated identity theft.