US court sentences Hushpuppi to 11-year jail term
Nigerian fraudster Ramon Abbas known as Hushpuppi has been sentenced to an 11-year jail term for fraud by a United States court.
US Department of Justice said Hushpuppi pleaded guilty to “several other cyber and business email compromise schemes” worth more than $24 million in losses.
Court documents quoted Don Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, saying the Nigerian targeted Americans and other foreign nationals, making him become “one of the most prolific money launderers in the world”.
Hushpuppi, who flaunted his wealthy lifestyle to over 2.8 million followers on his Instagram account, was arrested in Dubai in June 2020 alongside members of his crew – Olalekan Jacob Ponle known as Woodberry and 10 other. The 12 suspects were arrested in six simultaneous raids carried out by the e-police unit of the Dubai Police.
Police said 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 seized with 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.
Hushpuppi pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. He admitted to attempting to steal more than $1.1m from someone who wanted to fund a new children’s school in Qatar, court documents in California say.
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“Abbas leveraged his social media platforms… 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,” Alway said.
“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.”
Court documents disclosed that Hushpuppi apologised for his crimes to Judge Otis D Wright in a handwritten note and pledged to use his personal funds to pay back his victims. He also said he had only made $300,000 from the crime he was being tried for.
Hushpuppi will serve his sentence of 135 months in federal prison, court documents said.