On December 11th, 23-year-old Anthony Francis Faulk was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and extortion. From 2016 to 2018, Faulk and other unnamed co-conspirators allegedly used sim swapping to target their victims, swipe their cryptocurrency, and fund a number of extravagant purchases.
Among the assets that Faulk allegedly copped is a $942,500 house, a Ferrari convertible, an oddly reasonable Nissan Rogue, and an iced-out Rolex that the Justice Department describes as VS+ Bustdown w/ Boss Bezel. The most curious crime-funded assets, however, is a collection of song royalty rights, purchased on the website Royalty Exchange:
The indictment, in listing the songs purchased, does not include the name of the artist, so in some cases it is impossible to determine with 100% accuracy the song in question. For example, “Back on the Grind” and “Pull Up” could refer to a variety of songs. Motherboard has reached out to Royalty Exchange to clarify the list of songs purchased by Faulk, but did not hear back at the time of publication. I made a playlist of the songs, with some approximations where the exact track could not be confirmed. It can be found here; when you stream them, presumably, the federal government will get the royalties.
In addition to allegedly using social engineering to swap SIM cards with victims in order to steal their cryptocurrency and extortion, Faulk is seemingly guilty of amassing a collection of songs with no real sense of cohesion. The list of songs lacks a sense of purpose, or an overall narrative arc that one would hope to see in any grouping of music.
A search on Royalty Exchange shows that some of these songs were purchased by Faulk in bulk. For example, the 10-year royalty rights for five songs were purchased by an “Anthony F” for $8,600 in a package called “Grammy-Winning Hip-Hop Single + More.” In this package, the only song not listed on Faulk’s indictment is “What You Know About That,” by T.I. However, the indictment lists the song “Que Tu Sabes D’Eso,” by Pitbull, which roughly translates to “What You Know About That.” This is confusing for multiple reasons, especially since the song by T.I. is far superior and much more likely to rack up royalties fees.
Faulk was not just partial to hip-hop, but also seemingly purchased the 10-year royalty rights for two tracks by Goldroom, a Los Angeles-based electronic music producer. When reached for comment, Josh Legg, also known as Goldroom, said he was completely unaware of this situation, but said he was aware that one of his co-writers had “sold his publishing stake in those songs to Royalty Exchange."
“I would hope that the rights are returned to anyone that previously controlled the publishing by legal means,” Legg said.
When asked his thoughts on stealing Bitcoin and buying music royalty rights, Legg said it “seems like a not so clever way of laundering the money.” On the other hand, he said, “I do think we’re running full speed towards a much more open market for music IP,” and forecasts that “in a decade buying stakes in music IP will be as commonplace as investing in real estate or stocks.”
The smattering of songs collected by Faulk paint the portrait of a man with (allegedly) too much Bitcoin, and too little time to curate a consistent vibe.
Perhaps the most telling song, “Betta Knock,” is by Playaz Circle, featuring Ludacris. When Dolla Boy pleads, “Please don’t run up on me dog, cuz you gon’ have a bad day and I’ma catch a bad case.” Faulk is scheduled to appear in court on January 9, 2020.