Hushpuppi is ‘legitimate businessman,’ his lawyer says
The Chicago lawyer who is defending Nigerian accused of money laundering and fraud in the United States said his client is not guilty of any crime.
Gal Pissetzky claimed Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi, runs a “legitimate business” as an “entrepreneur”. Pissetzky said Hushpuppi made his money promoting brands on his Instagram page, where he has 2.5 million followers.
“He’s an entrepreneur,” Pissetzky told Forbes. “He has real estate involvement … [he’s] an Instagram personality. He was promoting brands and that’s how he was very legitimately making his money.”
The US Department of Justice said the Nigerian Instagram personality defrauded a client of a New York law firm of approximately $922,857 in October 2019.
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DoJ said 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.
He and others further were also accused of conspiring 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,” the Department of Justice said in a statement.
Despite the groundswell of evidence provided by the prosecutors in a criminal complaint, Pissetzky insisted that his client never committed any crime and described him as a legitimate businessman.
[He is] “absolutely not guilty of [the] charges they are accusing him of. “[He] was running a legitimate business and a very legitimate Instagram account and did not take part in any scam or fraud.”
Hushpuppi and 11 members of his gang were arrested while sleeping at their Dubai residences, the information contained in a video shared on Twitter by Dubai Police Media Office shows.
The 12 suspects were arrested in six simultaneous raids carried out by the e-police unit of the Dubai Police.
The gang was responsible for Dh1.6 billion (about N169 billion) fraud involving over 1.9 million victims. Items worth N15.845 billion (Dh 150 million) were also seized.
13 luxury cars worth N2. 640 billion (Dh 25 million), 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 memory storage devices, 5 external hard drives and 800, 000 emails of potential victims were also recovered from the gang.
Their arrest in an operation codenamed Fox Hunt 2 came after about four months of painstaking investigations into their activities., during which their social media activities were monitored by the highly trained police unit.
The video posted by the Dubai Media Office said their police were able to track the locations of the suspected fraudsters using their social media activities.
The Dubai Police said the Hushpuppi and his gang specialised in hacking corporate emails and then send fictitious messages to the clients of the companies whose email accounts they have hacked to redirect financial transactions and bank details to their own accounts.
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