| Opinion |

Is R&B Singer Akon a Fraud?

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The Smoking Gun recently reported in a long, investigative entry that R&B singer Akon, who has built a career on making a huge deal out of his alleged criminal past, is not as bad as he says he is.

Since the release of Akon's 2004 debut, Trouble, the singer has claimed that he did hard time in a Georgia prison for being "ringleader of a notorious car theft operation" and that he owned four chop shops frequented by celebrities and drug dealers.

The Smoking Gun reports that while Akon has been arrested a half-dozen times, he's only received one felony charge, for gun possession in New Jersey in 1998. He got three years probation for that. That same year, in suburban Atlanta, Akon was arrested for driving a stolen BMW. He was held in DeKalb County jail for several months before all charges were dropped.

Says the Gun:

Akon's invented tales appear to be part of a cynical marketing plan, but one that has met with remarkable success. Few press interviews conclude without Akon being asked about his criminal exploits and his prison days. He obliges with canned and well-rehearsed claims, false as they may be, and compares his supposed nationwide operation to those depicted in the movies "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "New Jersey Drive." And in interview after interview over the years, he always makes sure to point out the "notorious" nature of his theft ring (as if the adjective's inclusion makes him sound even more felonious). Akon repeats the phrase "notorious car theft operation" so frequently it seems like he is reading it from a sheet of talking points.

It's no secret that I've long considered this guy to be a phony. He's practically throwing it in our faces. His name is Akon. Turn the K into a C and that's exactly what you get: A Con Artist.

--Jason Harper

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