Crime

'Cringe' Ex-Rapper Turned Crypto Bro Gets Dinged with Federal Fraud Charges

Corbin Corona, charged for fraud, is famous on Reddit for being "cringe."
Corbin Corona, charged for fraud, is famous on Reddit for being "cringe." Screenshot from Soundcloud
A former Soundcloud rapper who claims he's collaborated with Young Jeezy and Chamillionaire can now add "federal court" to his list of live appearances.

John Corbin Corona, aka Corbin Corona, got hit with two sealed indictments on federal charges of wire fraud and engaging in monetary transactions derived from unlawful activity in October. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a warrant and arrested Corona last month, according to U.S. District Court records.

Corona's charges stem from loans he obtained through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an emergency federal loan system implemented by the Small Business Administration to help people who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Corona owned a cryptocurrency company called HODL that operated bitcoin investments. The Justice Department alleges that Corona "knowingly and willfully devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud and to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses," according to the indictment.

Corona obtained $413,804 in PPP loans through two third-party lenders using alleged false information about HODL's payroll data. He claimed on application forms that his company spent $82,760.55 on payroll expenses for a staff of nine employees.

He entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment on Nov. 9. Thanks to a continuance order, Corona's trial has been moved to May 1. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud count and 10 years for the unlawful activity count. He would also forfeit to the government any money obtained from the fraud, according to court records.

“As millions of small business owners grappled with the fallout from the pandemic, this defendant raked in a couple hundred thousand bucks at his fellow citizens’ expense,” U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham said in a written statement. “The Paycheck Protection Program, funded by taxpayers, was designed to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. The Justice Department will relentlessly pursue those who defrauded the PPP.”

Corbin has been out of the music game for almost seven years. He released several rap and hip-hop tracks on a Soundcloud account that boasts he was "mentored by producer Ensayne Wayne" and worked with artists such as "Young Jeezy, Veroncia [sic] V (YMCMB), Cam'ron, Chamillionaire, Future and many more."

According to his Soundcloud bio, "Corbin is 26, free & enduring more determination than ever to becoming the sought-after producer & artist who creates new entrancing worlds with his impeccable sound." It also says he's "a poetic street writer & music producer mixing layers of global influence from his journeys through life. Personal experiences, some for better & some for worse, carved to create the man before you today."
Corbin's history in entertainment goes back even deeper and gets even weirder. In 2002, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno invited Corbin to appear on the late-night NBC talk show when he was a Highland Park teenager to show off his collection of oddly shaped cow patties. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting before returning to Dallas to focus on music.

A video for his song "SuperStar" went viral in 2013, but for all the wrong reasons. Corona became the subject of online mockery when his video became the most viewed post on Reddit's "r/cringe" channel. Viewers realized the vast majority of the comments on his YouTube page came from bots designed to boost the view counts. Viewers also noted his Twitter account, which has since been closed, showed pictures of attractive women with captions like "I can't believe these bitches really like it" only to discover that the picture came from multiple sources on a simple Google search.

These discoveries turned Corona into a meme in the Reddit channel as "the guy with pretend YouTube likes." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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