Nigerian Instagram "Star" Arrested After Conspiring To Steal Hundreds Of Millions Using E-Mail Hacking Scams

A Nigerian social media star named "Hushpuppi" was extradited to the U.S. from Dubai late last week to face fraud charges, including allegations of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars.

The "star", whose actual name is Ramon Olorunwa Abbas has 2.4 million followers on Instagram, according to BloombergHave you ever heard of him? No. Us neither. 

Regardless, his schtick seemed to be regularly posting photographs of himself on private planes and in luxury cars, while wearing expensive designer clothing. 

But on July 2, he was flown to Chicago and the next day was posing next to a judge.

The U.S. Department of Justice says he now faces charges “alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from ‘business email compromise’ (BEC) frauds and other scams.”

According to the DOJ, "The 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."

In BEC frauds, a computer hacker gains unauthorized access to a company's e-mail account and tries to trick staff into wiring out money. 

The DOJ release continues: "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."

Finally, he is accused to trying to scam an English Premier League football club out of $124 million: "Abbas 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."

“BEC schemes are one of the most difficult cybercrimes we encounter as they typically involve a coordinated group of con artists scattered around the world who have experience with computer hacking and exploiting the international financial system,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.

“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.”

He was arrested last month in Dubai and was handed over to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. He has yet to hire a lawyer and was last represented by a public defender. Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says they are also investigating. 

He faces up to 20 years in the U.S. if convicted of conspiring to engage in money laundering.