Gina Cabell has never been interested in working for other people. From a young age, she knew she wanted all the glitz and glam that life had to offer, but she says, “working was just not even an option because I’m nobody’s worker.”
As an alternative, she concocted a multi-million dollar game that she affectionately named “M&M;” short for “millions and millions.” The way the hustle operated was Cabell would steal other people’s identities and use their sensitive information for profit, whether it be through selling copied credit cards or using their identities to rent furniture, which she’d turn around and sell. In the end, Cabell might have made millions of dollars, but it came at a price.
Featured on her own episode of season three of “American Gangster: Trap Queens” on BET+, here’s the story of how Indianapolis native Gina Cabell went from leading a fraudulent life to learning how to reclaim her own name.
THE FIRST HUSTLE
Cabell’s story starts out in the 80s when she was raised by a single mother in Indianapolis. As a self-professed rebellious child, she once staged a fake break-in to distract her mother from the fact she got in trouble at school.
“I am from Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s known as Naptown. That’s where I’m brought up from. That’s where everything started as a child. That’s when the rebellion came,” Cabell explains.
From an early age, Cabell was spoiled by her family members, especially her grandmother, who also doubled as her best friend. She sites her family’s generosity as where she acquired her taste for the finer things in life, so much so she was willing to lead a life of crime to keep it up.
Everything Cabell asked for, she received.
“There was nothing I could not get,” Cabell says.
In 1995, at 15 years old, Cabell found herself a single mother herself. It was around this time that she also found herself committing her first act of identity theft. She learned through a friend how she could get any car off the dealership lot completely free — to her at least. The way it worked was that Cabell obtained a lost or forgotten driver’s license from a liquor store, then used it to test drive a car. With the car salesman holding onto a valid driver’s license that wasn’t Cabell’s, she drove off the lot with her new vehicle.
Slowly, a good chunk of her friends were driving around stolen cars; until one of them got caught. Not wanting to get in trouble, Cabell opted to sell her truck for a $3,000 profit.
Fast forward three years and Cabell found herself pregnant with her second child, a son named Tyler. With two mouths to feed now, and not interested in receiving child support from their fathers, Cabell knew she needed to find a revenue source to provide for them. So, eventually she packed her family up and moved to Atlanta.
When she moved to Atlanta, Cabell didn’t even own a car. So, when she rented her U-Haul to move, she rented it for one day, with no intention of actually giving it back. She ended up driving the moving van around for six months as her primary vehicle. Once she was settled in Atlanta, Cabell knew she needed to start a new, profitable hustle.
“As a hustler, you’re going to communicate, you’re going to network,” Cabell says.
Now in her early twenties, Cabell came up with a scheme of using IDs she bought at a local flea market to rent furniture from Rent-A-Center. Instead of returning the furniture, she’d simply sell it for a profit. Her hustle ended up making her a profit of about $25,000 a month.
Knowing she could make more, Cabell decided to take her hustle to a new level. As luck would have it, she was introduced to a guy that showed her how to make fraudulent credit cards. What was most appealing to her about this new hustle was that it didn’t require her to show her face on camera, which she had to do at the Rent-A-Centers.
In order to make the credit cards, she’d need someone’s personal information and credit card number. To get that information, Cabell had to access the dark web.
THE DARK WEB
The way the dark web works is you have to be brought in by someone who already has access. Once in the dark web, Cabell describes it as “no coming out.”
When asked to describe her crimes, Cabell says: “I’ve done identity theft and that’s where basically, you’re committing a crime as another person but you’re using it as the best of your ability, whatever your hustle is.”
Cabell would purchase stolen identities from the dark web in bulk, then turn around and make credit cards with their stolen information. She was able to do all of this and more from the comfort of her home, with the help of three computers and an embossing machine.
Now that she could rent the furniture remotely from her computer, Cabell was able to increase her productivity and bring her monthly income up to $40,000. Wanting even more money, she then started selling fraudulent credit cards that she’d made, allowing her monthly income to skyrocket to $70,000 a month.
At this point, Cabell was making more than enough money to fund the lavish lifestyle she’d always dreamed of. She was generous with her spending and was known to give out stacks of gift cards around the holidays or even a stolen TV or two. With her hefty bank account, she was able to afford expensive cars, clothing, and handbags. As for her children, they were well provided for and never went without.
What they did go without, though, was time with their mom, who was often on-the-go and traveling. Unaware of what their mom was really doing to afford their lifestyle, all they knew was that Cabell had a locked office that they weren’t allowed to go into.
Even though she had made millions by this point, Cabell wanted even more. So, when someone asked her if she sold any construction material or lumber, she did some research and was delighted to find that she could easily make $30,000 an order. With this new insight, she started selling materials that helped build hair salons, barber shops, bars, and even restaurants across the country. At 27 years old, Cabell was now making $300,00 a month.
But unbeknown to her, the police started investigating Cabell for the furniture she stole at Rent-A-Center. It took several years, but after figuring out her identity from the video footage and tracking down her address, a warrant was issued for Cabell’s arrest.
In 2011, at 32 years old, the police came to Cabell’s door with guns drawn and arrested her. Facing 30 years in prison and four active warrants in different counties, Cabell was released on bond.
Cabell wasn’t ready for prison, so she opted to go on the lam instead.
While running from the police, Cabell bounced from Atlanta to Los Angeles to Indianapolis. Only her close friends and family were aware of her situation, and they cared for her children back home in Indy.
With a sense that her time might be running out, Cabell decided to dedicate herself to making even more money.
“When I was underground, I just really kept a hustle. That’s where you had no choice but to go hard because you’re thinking, ‘let me hurry up things and get all the money.’ There was just no limitation because you just don’t know when that day will come,” Cabell says.
By 2014, the police had enlisted the help of a bounty hunter to find Cabell. They studied her life and knew what was important to her, which is why she couldn’t go home during the holidays or even attend her beloved grandmother’s funeral. When Cabell needed to get around, she borrowed her daughter’s or sister’s identification card. She went by dozens of different aliases, including Lisa, Samantha, and Toni.
During this time Cabell was able to start a line of waist trainers, and she flipped a couple of properties that she owned. But being on the run got old to her. She was tired. After almost eight years on the run, Cabell wanted to give the hustle up. She was ready to get out.
“I couldn’t go before because I had responsibilities,” she says. “I had children, and I wanted to make sure I got them through school and graduated. I knew I had things to do. I wasn’t going to put certain things in jeopardy for it to get took down.”
In 2018, after hustling nearly $10 million, Cabell was pulled over in Indianapolis for failing to use a proper turn signal. After the cops didn’t believe her fake ID, she finally fessed up to who she really was. Cabell was tired of missing everything. She had run for so long and gone by so many different names, she just wanted to be Gina again. She missed being just Gina.
When her sentencing came around, Cabell was surprised to learn she’d only been given three months in jail. It helped that most Rent-A-Centers were closed by that point. Still, the jail she was housed at was a 23-hour lockdown, which gave Cabell plenty of time to realize how wrong she was for doing what she did.
Once she was released in late 2019, Cabell was ready to reclaim being “Gina,” which took some getting used to saying. She hadn’t heard or gone by her name in years.
Today, Gina is a budding entrepreneur and author in Indianapolis. She’s the owner of a clothing line called “Heart of a Hustler,” and she has plans to tell her story:
“I’m working on my book, it will be dropped here this year. And I also assist an artist. So, I’m doing a little bit of industry work now. It keeps me busy.”
Even with all of her success, when asked what advice she would give her younger self if she could, Gina is adamant:
“Don’t do it. There’s nothing else to even really say. This is just not worth it. It’s not. And it wasn’t about the money — it was about the money at the time — but there’s a bigger picture because it’s hurting people, you know? It’s hurting people, anything you’re trying to do in my lane.”
Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.
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