Instagram Influencer Gets 11 Years for Money Laundering

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A 40-year-old Nigerian national famous for flaunting his lavish lifestyle on Instagram has been sentenced to over 11 years behind bars for laundering the proceeds of numerous cybercrimes.

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, better known by his Instagram handle of “Hushpuppi,” pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, having been arrested in Dubai and extradited to the US a year before.

As well as being handed a 135-month jail sentence, he was also ordered to pay over $1.7m in restitution to two fraud victims.

Abbas is said to have conspired with convicted money launderer, Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, to handle funds from various crimes, including banking cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes and other types of online fraud.

These included:

  • A conspiracy to launder $14.7m stolen by North Korean hackers from a Maltese bank 
  • A conspiracy to launder millions of pounds stolen from a British football club and a separate UK company
  • A conspiracy to defraud a Qatari businessperson who sought a loan of $15 million to build a school
  • A BEC attack in which Abbas tricked a New York-based law firm to transfer nearly $1m to a bank account under his control

The restitution is being paid to the Qatari and New York victims, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Abbas is said to have spent his illicit earnings on luxury goods such as a $230,000 Richard Mille watch and, on one occasion, paid $50,000 to fund a sham marriage to a St. Kitts citizen in order to acquire citizenship for the Caribbean country.

In just 18 months, Abbas conspired to launder over $300m, although much of those funds failed to materialize, prosecutors claimed.

“Abbas bragged on social media about his lavish lifestyle – a lifestyle funded by his involvement in transnational fraud and money laundering conspiracies targeting victims around the world,” said US attorney Martin Estrada.

“Money laundering and BEC scams are a massive international crime problem, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement and international partners to identify and prosecute those involved, wherever they may be.”

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