Nigerian Social Media Influencer “Hushpuppi” Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison Over Money Laundering Conspiracy
A Nigerian influencer named Ramon Abbas, 40 — also known as “Hushpuppi” — has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for money laundering and internet fraud.
Ramon Abbas was also ordered by a federal judge to pay $1.7 million in restitution to two fraud victims. According to reports, he was taken into federal custody in June 2020 after he was arrested in Dubai and expelled from the United Arab Emirates.
According to federal prosecutors, in 2019, he helped launder $14.7 million stolen by North Korean hackers from a bank in Malta, funneling the money through banks in Romania and Bulgaria, prosecutors said. He also helped launder millions of pounds stolen from a British company and a professional soccer club in the United Kingdom, got a New York-based law firm to transfer nearly $923,000 to a criminal account and acknowledged in a plea agreement that he helped defraud someone in Qatar who sought a $15 million loan to build a school.
Abbas, who’s Instagram handle was “Ray Hushpuppi,” had more than 2 million Instagram followers before he was arrested in 2020 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. His social media posts showed him living a life of luxury, complete with private jets, ultra-expensive cars and high-end clothes and watches.
His social-media posts eventually caught the attention of investigators and were used as evidence to establish the charges against him, per an FBI affidavit filed by Special Agent Andrew Innocenti in June 2020. According to the affidavit, Ramon Abbas “finances this opulent lifestyle through crime,” and is
“one of the leaders of a transnational network” that targets victims around the world “in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga in Ontario, Canada, was charged separately. He pleaded guilty in 2020 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, prosecutors said. He was sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison and was ordered to pay more than $30 million in restitution.
At Monday’s (Nov. 7) sentencing, Abbas was sentenced to to 135 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay $922,857 in restitution to the law firm and $809,983 in restitution to the victim in Qatar.