The man, who is going by the pseudonym Jeffrey Washington, has been claiming that he’s working with CEDA (Community and Economic Development Association), together with Chance the Rapper, to help people “pay off financial obligations.” These financial obligations include mortgages, utility bills, and car insurance.
But there’s just one problem with the scam: CEDA doesn’t cover what the scammer claims it covers.
Instead, according to its official website, CEDA provides “heating and cooling assistance” to low-income residents of Chicago. And while the not-for-profit doesn’t provide mortgage assistance, it does provide assistance with affordable housing for qualified residents. What’s more, there’s no evidence to suggest that Chance the Rapper is involved with CEDA — and a simple Google search confirms these facts.
Nevertheless, “Jeffrey Washington” managed to weasel his way into the confidence of two women in the Chicago area. Here’s how he did it.
According to the CBS News report, “Jeffrey Washington” gained the confidence of Ibi and Lulu Cole back in January 2022 when he approached them in person. Initially, the sisters refused to engage him — “you’re always leery of anybody approaching you — you know, under that guise,” said Lulu — but after the man paid their cell phone bill and a small mortgage with Wells Fargo, they were convinced of his connection to Chance the Rapper and CEDA.
After “Jeffrey Washington” continued to pay additional bills for the sisters, he was able to convince them to part with some cash of their own to “pay it forward” — to the tune of more than $36,000.
But the scam fell apart when the companies that were initially paid off — such as the sisters’ small mortgage with Wells Fargo — revealed that they weren’t. It’s not clear whether the payments were reversed, or whether the bank account given by “Jeffrey Washington” to pay said bills was fraudulent in the first place. But whatever the case, the sisters were back in the red.
And because they had to catch up on the payments, plus pay the penalties associated with a reverse charge — not to mention all the cash they were out because of their “paying it forward” to “Jeffrey Washington” — the sisters went so deep into debt that they couldn’t open the community center they’d been working to open for the past year.
Facts about Chance the Rapper
According to the CBS report, Chance the Rapper is indeed frequently involved in various charitable efforts in and around his native Chicago. However, as was previously mentioned, he isn’t directly involved with anything involving CEDA, and neither does he have a representative by the name of “Jeffrey Washington.”
(It’s also unclear, as of this writing, what the scammer’s real name is.)
And while Chance the Rapper had no comment about the situation at press time, CEDA CEO Harold Rice made clear that his not-for-profit doesn’t help people by merely stopping them on the street.
“We’re not walking along the street, grabbing individuals … and saying: ‘Hey, look, I’m a CEDA representative, I can hook you up.’ No, no. We don’t do that,” he said.