Rapper “Willie D” Pleads Guilty in Wire Fraud Scam
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 18, 2009|
HOUSTON—William James Dennis, aka Willie D, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges stemming from his purported sales of Apple iPhones through a company known as Texas One Wireless, United States Attorney Tim Johnson and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard C. Powers announced today.
At a hearing today before United States District Court Judge Gray Miller, Dennis, 42, a rap music recording artist, admitted to posing as an electronics salesman and using eBay to establish his credibility with international buyers. Once a buyer showed interest, Dennis directed the buyer outside of eBay to conduct sales via e-mail.
Numerous foreign individuals placed orders with Dennis for iPhones and other electronics. Dennis required payment to be electronically transferred to his bank account. Once the transaction was confirmed, Dennis would send tracking numbers for packages that were never shipped. When the buyers complained about not receiving their purchases, Dennis would claim he had filed a complaint with the postal service or hired carrier and that he could not refund their money until he knew where his goods were. Eventually, Dennis would cease communication with the victimized parties. Twenty-nine individuals were defrauded of approximately $132,303 between September 2008 and April 2009.
“Financial frauds, whether committed in person or via the Internet, victimize individuals, communities and the economy at large,” said Powers. “Those who feel these crimes can be committed with impunity will learn that the Houston Area Cyber Crimes Task Force (HACCTF) will continue to provide investigative and analytic resources to combat and discourage Internet fraud.”
Dennis was arrested by FBI agents on May 13, 2009, as he returned from a trip overseas and was indicted on June 9, 2009. Dennis faces up to 20 years' imprisonment to be followed by up to a five-year term of supervised release and a maximum fine of $250,000 for the wire fraud conviction. As part of his agreement with the United States, Dennis will make full restitution at or before sentencing. Judge Miller has set sentencing for April 23, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. Dennis will be permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing.
The HACCTF is comprised of personnel from the FBI, Houston Police Department and Harris County Sheriff's Office, who received assistance in this investigation from the United States Postal Inspection Service. The charges arose after victims who did not receive merchandise nor refunds after many attempts complained to law enforcement. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack.
“Willie D” was the lead member of a Houston rap group known as the Geto Boys. Between 1989 and 1996 they recorded a number of hit songs and had some albums that reached gold and or platinum status. In early 2005 the Geto Boys released a reunion album that was written and produced by Dennis. Dennis founded Relentless Music Ventures in 2006 and signed groups Nay Nay and Huntzville.