The United States Department of Justice has described detained Instagram influencer, Ray Hushpuppi as one of the most high-profile money launderers in the world, after indicting him on a fresh charge of fraud and money laundering.
Hushpuppi – real name Ramon Olorunwa Abbas – is currently standing trial in the United States for offences related to fraud and cybercrime.
“Mr. Abbas, among the most high-profile money launderers in the world, has admitted to his significant role in perpetrating global BEC fraud, a scheme currently plaguing Americans. His celebrity status and ability to make connections seeped into legitimate organizations and led to several spin-off schemes in the U.S. and abroad. Today’s announcement deals a crucial blow to this international network and hopefully serves as a warning to potential victims targeted with this type of theft,’’ said Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
1st News reports that Hushpuppi was arrested in the UAE in June 2020 alongside 11 of his associates. The alleged syndicate was nabbed over allegations bordering on hacking, impersonation, scamming, banking fraud, as well as identity theft. His extradition to the US came after the UAE police announced his celebrated arrest in a special operation dubbed Fox Hunt 2; in which he was accused of defrauding 1.9 million victims to the tune of N168 billion.
Consequently, he was arraigned and detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago ahead of his trial. He had recently pleaded guilty to the money laundering charges against him; risking 20 years’ imprisonment.
However, Hushpuppi has been indicted in a new charge of fraud and money laundering.
The indictment, explained by the US DoJ in detail, allegedly involved an elaborate scheme to steal more than $1.1 million from a businessperson attempting to finance the construction of a school for children in Qatar; as well as the subsequent laundering of the illicit proceeds through bank accounts around the world. The three-count indictment of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and aggravated identity theft also involved three US-based Nigerians who were arrested last week; as well as three defendants believed to be in Africa.
The three Nigerians were identified as Yusuf Adekinka Anifowoshe, a.k.a. AJ, 26, of Brooklyn, New York; Rukayat Motunraya Fashola, a.k.a. Morayo, 28, of Valley Stream, New York; as well as Bolatito Tawakalitu Agbabiaka, a.k.a. Bolamide, 34, of Linden, New Jersey. AJ allegedly played a role in the fraud; assisting Abbas with a call to the victim posing as Malik, a New York-based banker. The other two, Morayo and Bolamide, allegedly aided Hushpuppi in laundering the funds.
All three were picked up by operatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) on Thursday, July 22, 2021.
Meanwhile, a fallout over the sharing of the proceeds between Hushpuppi and Kelly Chibuzo Vincent, another co-conspirator on the $1.1m fraud led to the involvement of celebrated super cop, DCP Abba Kyari, whom Hushpuppi accused of obtaining bribes in return for arresting and jailing Vincent after he tipped off the victim that they were being defrauded.
Kyari has, however, denied any wrongdoing; even as he disclosed that Vincent was picked up over a reported case of threat to life and subsequently released.