South Florida rapper Tafia — whose real name is Emmanuel Alexis — has been arrested for an allegedly fraudulent money transfer scheme. According to a report by The Miami Herald, Alexis and his accomplice Jahson Rayon Linton were taken into custody on Friday. Miami-Dade Police said that the two 31-year-olds stole about $360,000 with their scheme.
Police director Alfredo Ramirez and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle issued a statement about Alexis and Linton's arrests in Boynton Beach on Friday. They claim that the duo worked with two Walmart employees to commit wire transfer fraud and steal money from both Walmart and its customers. The allegation became big news when fans realized that Alexis was also Tafia — a popular local musician signed to Meek Mill's Dream Chasers record label. Just this year, Tafia made the Miami New Times' list of "Ten Miami rappers to watch in 2021."
That career may be on hold now that Alexis will be preoccupied with this case. He and all three of his accomplices have reportedly been charged with first-degree felonies of an organized scheme to defraud and conspiracy to commit an organized scheme to defraud. Alexis and 30-year-old Michelle Denise Gilyard are also being charged with one count of first-degree felony of grand theft, while Linton and 26-year-old Vitnelson Saint Fleur are being charged with one count of second-degree felony of grand theft.
Authorities explained how they believed the four used Walmart's money transfer service to steal the money. Typically, customers can send money to a person at another Walmart location with sufficient identification, but authorities believe these four used falsified caller ID information to call the store posing as a variety of different people. They would then request "system tests" for the money transfer system, but the transfers were never really canceled on their ends.
"Today's sophisticated scammers are always probing to find ways to grab the cash of every business and every consumer," Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "Gaining the assistance of a trusted employee always makes the criminal's job easier."
Similar scams have been identified at Walmart before, and scammers have shifted to get around the new rules again and again. In this case, authorities believe Alexis and Linton collected tens of thousands of dollars at a time over the course of many transactions. They say that Gilyard and Saint Fleur were paid a few hundred dollars at a time for their participation. It is not clear when Tafia's criminal proceedings will begin.