Notorious Nigerian fraudster sentenced to 11 years in US prison

Notorious Nigerian fraudster sentenced to 11 years in US prison

A notorious Instagram influencer from Nigeria has been jailed for more than 11 years in the US for his role in an international fraud syndicate.

Hushpuppi, whose real name was Ramon Abbas, flaunted his lavish lifestyle on his page, which had 2.8 million followers before it was deactivated.

The judge in Los Angeles also ordered him to pay $1,732,841 (£1,516,182) in compensation to two fraud victims.

Abbas will serve 135 months in federal prison.

Last year he pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Abbas admitted to trying to steal more than $1.1 million from someone who wanted to fund a new children’s school in Qatar, court documents in California state.

The scammer tricked his victim into providing funds for the school by “playing the roles of bank employees and creating a fake website,” according to a statement by then-U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkinson on the U.S. Department of Justice website. According to the US Department of Justice, other suspects are allegedly involved, with Abbas playing a key role.

Abbas also admitted to “numerous other cyber-compromise systems and business emails that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in damages,” the US Justice Department said.

“Ramon Abbas … targeted both American and international victims, becoming one of the world’s most prolific money launderers,” Don Alway, the FBI’s assistant director in Los Angeles, said in a court filing Monday.

“Abbas used social media platforms… to gain notoriety and boast about the vast wealth he acquired by perpetrating email compromise scams, online bank robberies and other cyber scams that financially ruined many victims and provided help in the north. Korean regime.

“This significant sentence is the result of years of cooperation between law enforcement authorities in many countries and should send a clear warning to international fraudsters that the FBI will seek justice for victims, regardless of whether criminals operate inside or outside borders of the United States”.

Abbas apologized for his crimes to Judge Otis D Wright in a handwritten note, saying he would use his personal funds to pay his victims. He also said he had only made $300,000 from the crime he was on trial for.

Abbas’ lavish lifestyle came to an abrupt end in 2020 when he was arrested while living in Dubai.

His Instagram account, which featured expensive cars and designer clothes, was worlds away from its humble beginnings.

Those who knew Abbas as a child told the BBC that his father was a taxi driver and his mother a market trader, but as he grew up he developed a weakness for splashing cash. “He was generous. He used to buy beer for everyone around,” said a local driver called Seye.

According to Seye, he allegedly began his fraudulent lifestyle as a “Yahoo boy”, which in Nigeria refers to men who commit romance fraud by stealing other people’s identities online and cheating their lovers out of money.

In 2019, one of Abbas’s fraud schemes, which by this point had become a global phenomenon, had plunged the European island of Malta into chaos as payment systems shut down after Abbas tried to launder 13 million euros ($13 million). who robbed a Northern gang. Korean hackers from Bank of Valletta, Malta in 2019.

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