US Central District Court sentences Nigerian scammer to 11 years
United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II in Los Angeles on Monday sentenced Instagram celebrity scammer Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, a 40-year-old Nigerian national, also known by his Instagram handle, “Ray Hushpuppi” to 11 years in a Federal prison and pay a restitution of over $1.7 million dollars to two fraud victims.
Abbas was a prolific international fraudster who conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars through a series of online scams and flaunted his luxurious, crime-funded lifestyle on social media. He was arrested in Dubai, during a joint raid by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Emirati authorities, in June 2020 in Operation Top Dog and has remained in federal custody since his expulsion from the United Arab Emirates.
“Abbas bragged on social media about his lavish lifestyle – a lifestyle funded by his involvement in transnational fraud and money laundering conspiracies targeting victims around the world,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Money laundering and business email compromise scams are a massive international crime problem, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement and international partners to identify and prosecute those involved, wherever they may be.”
Abbas conspired with Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a convicted money launderer, to launder funds derived from various crimes, including bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes and other online frauds. BEC schemes typically involve gaining unauthorized access to a business email account and attempting to trick a victim business into making an unauthorized wire transfer.
In January 2019, Abbas conspired with Alaumary to launder funds stolen from a bank in Malta by providing account information for banks in Romania and Bulgaria. The United States has charged North Korean hackers with committing the bank cyber-heist in Malta, and alleged that those funds were destined for the North Korean government. Abbas has admitted that the intended loss with respect to the Maltese bank was approximately $14.7 million.
In May 2019, Abbas conspired with Alaumary to defraud £100m from a professional soccer club in the United Kingdom as well as a British company. In connection with that scheme, Abbas provided Alaumary with details for a bank account in Mexico that “could handle millions and not block,” according to court documents.
Among the luxuries Abbas spent his money on was a $230,000 (£200,000) Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which he regularly showed off on his Instagram account and $50,000 used to fraudulently acquire a St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis citizenship and a passport for Abbas through a sham marriage to a St. Kitts citizen.
Alaumary was charged separately and pleaded guilty in November 2020 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. He is serving a 140-month federal prison sentence and was ordered to pay more than $30 million in restitution.
Abbas also admitted in his plea agreement to conspiring with others to defraud an individual in Qatar who sought a loan of $15 million to build a school.
Ramon Abbas, a.k.a. ‘Hushpuppi,’ targeted both American and international victims, becoming one of the most prolific money launderers in the world,” said Don Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office said at the sentencing.
“Abbas leveraged his social media platforms – where he amassed a considerable following – to gain notoriety and to brag about the immense wealth he acquired by conducting business email compromise scams, online bank heists and other cyber-enabled fraud that financially ruined scores of victims and provided assistance to the North Korean regime. This significant sentence is the result of years’ worth of collaboration among law enforcement in multiple countries and should send a clear warning to international fraudsters that the FBI will seek justice for victims, regardless of whether criminals operate within or outside United States borders.” Alway added.