Nigerian social media influencer Ramon Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi, admitted he was involved in a conspiracy to defraud a Qatari businessman of more than $1 million.
Abbas, 37, also confessed to laundering money “through bank accounts around the world,” including “several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses,” a statement released by the US Department of Justice said.
He pleaded guilty on April 20, while court documents were unsealed on July 28. Abbas was first arrested in June 2020 by United Arab Emirates authorities at his luxury Dubai apartment.
Dubai police revealed at the time that they seized almost $41 million in cash and 13 luxury cars — as well as more than 100,000 fraudulent files found on his phone and computer, and the addresses of nearly 2 million possible victims.
Another Nigerian man, Olalekan Jacob Ponle, was also apprehended in a joint operation with United States agents known as Foxhunt 2. Abbas was turned over to FBI agents and later traveled to Los Angeles to face trial on charges of money laundering.
Court documents revealed that Abbas and other defendants reportedly posed as bank clerks and created a false website to convince a Qatari CEO to give money to finance a school.
The Instagrammer succeeded in defrauding the businessman of $1.1 million. Abbas then used the stolen cash to “purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand-delivered to Abbas in Dubai and subsequently appeared in Hushpuppi’s social media posts,” court documents said. The papers claimed that Abbas also used some of the money to allegedly acquire “St. Christopher and Nevis citizenship, as well as a passport for Abbas obtained by creating a false marriage certificate and then bribing a government official in St. Kitts.”
In February, Abbas got into more trouble when he was accused of conspiring with North Korean hackers to steal more than $1.3 billion from companies and banks in the US and other countries,
According to the Justice Department, “North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers.”