Nigerian Instagram influencer Hushpuppi has been kidnapped by FBI for £350 million cyberscam. Ramon Olorunwa Abbas aka ‘Hushpuppi’ was arrested by FBI from Dubai and taken to the US.
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- Nigerian Instagram influencer Hushpuppi has been kidnapped by FBI for £350 million cyberscam
- The case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle while providing safe havens for stolen money around the world
- Hushpuppi’s lawyer however says, “The FBI and US Government acted illegally in transporting him from Dubai”
- During the raid in Hushpuppi’s apartment the investigators found email address of two million victims on several phones and computers, including 13 luxury cars worth $6.8 million
- 21 computers and 47 smartphones as well as suitcases full of cash were also seized
- They were accused of targeting victims who lived overseas by creating fake websites for well known companies and banks
- Abbas was planning to launder $14.7m (£11.7m) that was looted from an exotic financial institution the previous year
- The affidavit does not name the institution, but a bank in Malta lost a similar sum to hackers in the equivalent month
Hushpuppi is a 37-year-old Nigerian influencer and Instagrammer who used to post photos of his luxurious life for his 2.5 million followers on Instagram.
In June, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas aka Hushpuppi and another man, Jacob Ponle aka Mr Woodberry were arrested in Dubai. They are suspected with ‘cyberscam’ worth £350 million reported the Dailymail.
Hushpuppi appeared before a court on July 3, in Chicago where he is being held.
Expelled or Extradited
The FBI and Dubai police crashed into his apartment and seized an amount of more than £30 million in cash.
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Hushpuppi’s lawyer, Gal Pissetzky says, “The FBI and US Government acted illegally in transporting him from Dubai.”
Putting his opinion, Gal Pissetzky said that there was neither any extradition nor any legal steps taken. ‘There were no court documents filed, it was simply a call to the FBI’ says Hushpuppi’s lawyer. He said that Hushpuppi was not a citizen of United States, and hence, the US had ‘no authority’ to take him.
In a Facebook post, the Dubai police claimed that the FBI director actually thanked them for extraditing Abbas. But the US Department of Justice told BBC that Hushpuppi was ‘expelled’ from Dubai and not ‘extradited’. They told the broadcaster ‘you’ll have to ask them’ for why they call the expelling an extradition.
FBI special agents took Hushpuppi in custody and brought him to the US to be liable to face a charge of conspiring to engage in money laundering.
However, Abbas’ lawyer says that if he would have been ‘expelled’ and not ‘extradited’, he would have returned to Nigeria. ‘If Dubai wanted to expel him, they could have expelled him back to Nigeria’ says Abbas’ lawyer. He says he has never heard of anything like ‘that’. ‘That is the real story here’ says Abbas’ lawyer to BBC.
Key player in a large, transnational conspiracy
The Department of Justice said that Abbas flaunted his elaborate lifestyle and is now facing criminal charges of illegally acquiring hundreds of millions of dollars through scams. He even targeted the US Law Firm through a scheme, also including the foreign bank and an English Premier League football club.
During the raid in Hushpuppi’s apartment the investigators found email address of two million victims on several phones and computers, including 13 luxury cars worth $6.8 million. 21 computers and 47 smartphones as well as suitcases full of cash were also seized.
They were accused of targeting victims who lived overseas by creating fake websites for well known companies and banks. They used it to steal victim’s credit card information and then launder the stolen wealth.
As an example, an affidavit accuses Abbas of planning to launder $14.7m (£11.7m) that was looted from an exotic financial institution previous year. The affidavit does not name the institution, but according to reports, a bank in Malta lost a similar sum to hackers in the equivalent month.
United States Attorney Nick Hanna said ‘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” when the charges were announced.
Mr Pissetzky disagrees with this and said that his client made money legitimately as he was hired by designer brands to promote products to his followers.
Abbas actually started out as a ‘second-hand clothes’ trader in Lagos before being a billionaire property developer in Dubai.
According to Abbas, he posts about his luxurious life to inspire others to make more of their lives and live it to the fullest, ‘I post a few of these things so that someone can see my page someday and decide not to give up,’ he formerly told this to his millions of Instagram followers.
Hushpuppi now faces a statutory of maximum 20 years in the federal prison in US.
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