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Instagram influencer Hushpuppi admits his part in scams that stole more than $24 million

Graham CLULEY

July 30, 2021

Instagram influencer Hushpuppi admits his part in scams that stole more than $24 million

37-year-old Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, also known as "Ray Hushpuppi," might have imagined he had it all.

The self-proclaimed "Billionaire Gucci Master", flamboyantly boasted about his luxurious life of expensive cars, private jets, and designer clothes to his 2.3 million Instagram followers.

But he left a digital trail online which resulted in Dubai police arresting him and other members of the gang in June last year, and him now pleading guilty to money laundering and fraudulent email schemes that cost his victims more than $24 million.

Dubai Police searched Abbas's apartment and discovered almost $41 million in cash, 13 luxury cars (valued at just under $7 million), and computer evidence including the addresses of nearly two million possible victims.

One of the ways that Abbas and his associates made their millions was through Business Email Compromise (BEC) - breaking into corporate email systems and sending bogus invoices and requests to payment to unsuspecting companies, who then transferred funds into accounts under the criminals' control.

As CNN describes, the man who liked to call himself "Hushpuppi" has now pleaded guilty, and awaits sentencing.

According to authorities, Abbas's money-laundering ring conspired to steal $100 million from an unnamed English Premier League soccer club. In addition, it was claimed that Abbas plotted to move £200m from a company in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In one criminal scheme, Abbas and his accomplices were said to have stolen millions of dollars intended for a Qatari school, by posing as bank officials:

"The defendants allegedly faked the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretense going after the victim was tipped off," said Acting United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison. "Mr. Abbas, who played a significant role in the scheme, funded his luxurious lifestyle by laundering illicit proceeds generated by con artists who use increasingly sophisticated means. In conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we will identify and prosecute perpetrators of business email compromise scams, which is a massive and growing international crime problem."

A Nigerian police chief has denied any involvement in the scheme to defraud the Qatari businessman.

Abbas faces up to 20 years in a United States jail, after being extradited there after his arrest last year.

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