Rich Homie Quan Impersonators Are Scamming Club Promoters
When it comes to rappers on the rise, few are catapulting as meteorically as Rich Homie Quan. The ATLien and 2014 XXL Freshman rode the success of his 2013 hit "Type Of Way" into a Top 20 single with YG's "My Nigga" and has continued pushing the boundaries of hip-hop with Young Thug on Rich Gang's Tha Tour Pt. 1 mixtape this past October. Really, everywhere you look Rich Homie Quan is starting to take over.
But that type of success and notoriety can come with drawbacks for a performer in the public eye. As one of the most in-demand performers on the come up today, Quan and his team have become a target for some of the inhabitants of the underside of the music industry, particularly when it comes to booking shows and club appearances. And in this day and age, scam artists have a better way to con promoters and club owners out of thousands and thousands of dollars: through social media.
"About a year ago, people started contacting me on my DM in my Instagram and would ask me if Quan was booked in certain different places," says Demonta Gibson, better known as Monta, who has been Rich Homie Quan's manager for the better part of a decade. "We thought we got to the bottom of that issue then. Then things started picking up at a different pace; we would get phone calls and people would pick the phone up and just start cursing, 'Quan missed my show last night!'"
It may not seem like the end of the world for an artist to miss a show, but the short and long-term effects of this type of scam are exacerbated over time. For many bookings in the industry, the process unfolds in a straightforward manner: contact is made between a club owner or promoter with a member of an artist's team. This person is generally the booking agent or manager, depending on the artist's setup—details and prices are hammered out, contracts are signed and a deposit is made with the artist (much like security deposits for rent, the rest of the money is usually held by the promoter or club owner until after the performance). But what has made this process such an issue for Quan and his team—as well as Young Thug, Migos, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj and Birdman, to name just a handful of others whose sources have said they've struggled with this issue—is the anonymity of the Internet and the cloak of secrecy afforded by social media. Twitter, Facebook and most significantly Instagram, places where artists will put contact information for booking and press inquiries, can be easily exploited by fake accounts and imposters that follow through with the entire booking process until the moment of the show, when no one shows to perform and the scam artist has mysteriously disappeared.
"The crazy thing was that everything matched up," says Chris Dual, a booking agent for 10 years who fell victim to a fake Instagram account purporting to represent Quan. Dual explains that everything about the booking seemed normal; details were agreed, a contract was sent and signed and the first half of the agreed-upon $25,000 was transferred to an account provided. He became suspicious when, after beginning to promote the event around the venue in Pittsburgh, the other party in question requested the full $25,000 up front. Dual refused and began searching around, eventually sniffing out the fake account. But not before he lost the initial $12,500, an amount he's determined to get back now.
"It's becoming so... It's happening way too much, whether it's people on the inside doing it, or somebody else," Dual says, lamenting the cost and time it takes to recover the money and trust lost. "It's kind of like marriage; it's gonna cost you a couple thousand to get the ring on her hand, and then it'll cost you $30,000 or $40,000 to get out of it."
A search for "Rich Homie Quan" on Instagram turns up accounts such as @rxxhqmgmt, @iamrich_homie and @rhqmgmt before his official Instagram page, @richhomiequan, appears. One, @iamrich_homie, is a personal account, while @rhqmgmt is an official account run by Monta and his team. And one, @rxxhqmgmt, posts flyers and photos lifted directly from Quan's official page, and also encourages its 1,300-plus followers to send a DM for booking inquiries. (That account is locked unless followers are approved by the account owner, and has no affiliation with Quan or his camp.) It's this type of confusion that can lead to sham bookings, bad blood and the loss of thousands of dollars.
For the promoter, there's a lot of money and credibility on the line. For a performer, even though the scam doesn't involve them directly in any way, the effect can be that much more costly. Gibson estimates that Quan has fallen victim to fake bookings at least seven times in the past couple months alone, from Pittsburgh to the Bahamas and throughout the South, and it's had a damaging affect on Quan's shows.
"I can look at my calendar and tell you a very big difference, you know what I mean?" Gibson says. "It's becoming a thing. It has become a hustle for other people... And it's becoming a big issue, not just for Rich Homie but for a lot of different artists."
Gibson and Quan also had to deal with another Internet-based scam that resulted in similar issues, when a web developer who helped build ThinkItsAGame.com for Quan's record label TIG Entertainment created an email address that had Gibson's name spelled incorrectly but which was nonetheless used to solicit bookings for Quan. Gibson, who never had access to the email account, didn't find out about the scam until he was contacted by a representative from a Las Vegas booking agency asking about the email address. (The fake booking in the Bahamas is associated with that particular email address.) Similarly, other email addresses purporting to be representatives for TIG or for Monta himself have been attempting to book Quan and bail with the money. Other sources have indicated that middlemen masquerading as representatives for both Birdman and Young Thug have disappeared with deposits for thousands of dollars in the past few months.
Artists have had to deal with shady promoters and sketchy venue owners for decades by now; that's one of the dark sides of the music industry in an arena that is tough to regulate. The effect of the new wave of booking scammers, however, is much bigger than one-off shows and a couple grand missing. It's made parties on all sides more suspicious, less likely to work with people they don't know, more open about their business practices to combat the issues of fake accounts and shady middlemen. It's helped that Instagram announced in December its intention to introduce verified accounts like Twitter and Facebook have done to weed out impersonators, but the feature hasn't reached full functionality yet. (Quan, with his 1.4 million followers, is not verified.) And in the interim, that means that scams are still happening.
"We're in this to build and have longevity; the longevity is taken away because of people ignoring [the problem]," Gibson says. "You just never know who you're dealing with." —Dan Rys