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Chance The Rapper can now breathe a sigh of relief, as a man who posed as an employee of his charity has been arrested and is facing multiple felony charges.
According to CBS Chicago, 35-year-old Demarco Franklin was arrested on Tuesday (January 3), after defrauding two women out of at least $70,000 in a scheme that started last January.
Clufunsho Aboyade-Cole (who goes by the name Lulu Cole) was contacted by a man who called himself Jeffrey Washington and claimed to work for Chance The Rapper’s non-profit, SocialWorks. The man convinced Cole that he had paid her cell phone bill and mortgage, to the tune of $44,803.13 on January 25, 2022, even sending confirmations.
Believing that the funds came from SocialWorks and the Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) in Cook County, the woman’s sister Ibiyanka “Ibi” Aboyade-Cole also turned to Washington, receiving $100,000 in assistance.
The sisters eventually gave Demarco Franklin $70,000 in cash as a donation to further the work he was doing through Chance’s charity. However, Lulu Cole was soon contacted by her bank to let her know that the payments made toward her mortgage could not be processed.
Once she was alerted that there were issues with the funds she thought she had received, Lulu Cole gave the Chicago Police Department a photo she had snapped of the man during their first meeting, which led to the arrest.
Demarco Franklin has several prior felony convictions for running similar scams. Authorities believe there could be more victims who were also defrauded during his latest run.
Ibi Cole told CBS Chicago that she feels the banks should bear some responsibility as well. “I would definitely love to see banks improve and increase their protections of their consumers,” she said.
Per the organization’s website, SocialWorks’ programming focuses on education, mental health, homelessness, and performing and literary arts. It works towards those goals through several initiatives including OpenMike, Warmest Winter, Kids of the Kingdom, The New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund, and My State of Mind.
Chance The Rapper closed out the year in Ghana, ahead of his Black Star Line Festival, which he launched with fellow Chicago native Vic Mensa. Set to take place on Friday (January 6), the festival will include performances from Erykah Badu, T-Pain, Vic Mensa, Jeremih, Tobe Nwigwe, Sarkodie, M.anifest and Asakaa Boys.
“I was inspired by Marcus Garvey in the early 1900s, 1919 through actually 1922, so 100 years ago now,” Chance said of the new project in a recent interview with Sway in the Morning. “He started and ran this very important, integral shipping line. He had a fleet of ships, these giant ocean liners which are the size of cruise ships, that he owned and funded with common Black folks’ money.
“But what he did with it was he created a trade route between the United States, all of the Black islands and the continent of Africa, and that created a network of people where people from all over the world were interconnected and working with each other and taking trips together, and created this connectivity that didn’t exist before.”
This connectivity was known as the “Black Star Line,” hence the name of the festival. Chance is also readying the release of Star Line Gallery, his first full-length project in four years.