Hushpuppi, a Nigerian Instagram influencer, could face a maximum of 20 years in jail if it is proved beyond reasonable doubts that he is guilty of cyber crimes in the United States of America (USA).
This was contained in a statement by US Department of Justice on Friday, July 3.
The 37-year-old man, real named Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, is currently facing money laundering charges by the US Department of Justice after his arrest last month.
The man who flaunted his Rolls-Royces, fancy watches and designer clothing on Instagram was arrested early June with 11 others by law enforcement officials in the United Arab Emirates during a raid.
He was extradited to the US last week to face criminal charges alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a US law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League soccer club.
He made his initial US court appearance on Friday in Chicago and is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles this week. It’s unclear if he has an attorney.
But prosecutors alleged that Abbas is one of the leaders of a global network that uses computer intrusions, business email compromise (BEC) schemes and money laundering capers to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.
BEC schemes as often involving a computer hacker gaining unauthorized access to a business’ email account, blocking or redirecting communications to and/or from that email account, and then using the compromised email account or a separate fraudulent email account to communicate with personnel from a victim company and to attempt to trick them into making an unauthorized wire transfer.
“This case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle in another country while allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world. As this case demonstrates, my office will continue to hold such criminals accountable no matter where they live.”
“In 2019 alone, the FBI recorded $1.7 billion in losses by companies and individuals victimized through business email compromise scams, the type of scheme Mr. Abbas is charged with conducting from abroad,” Paul Delacourt, Assistant Director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said.
“While this arrest has effectively taken a major alleged BEC player offline, BEC scams represent the most financially costly type of scheme reported to the FBI. I urge anyone who transfers funds personally or on behalf of a company to educate themselves about BEC so they can identify this insidious scheme before losing sizable amounts of money.”
Affidavit alleges that Abbas and others committed a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019. Abbas and co-conspirators allegedly tricked one of the law firm’s paralegals into wiring money intended for the client’s real estate refinancing to a bank account that was controlled by Abbas and the co-conspirators.
The affidavit also alleges that Abbas conspired to launder funds stolen in a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution in February 2019, in which the stolen money was sent to bank accounts around the world.
Abbas allegedly provided a co-conspirator with two bank accounts in Europe that Abbas anticipated each would receive €5 million (about $5.6 million) of the fraudulently obtained funds.
He and others further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million (approximately $124 million) from an English Premier League soccer club, the complaint alleges.
By Francis Addo