Ramon Olorunwa Abbas

toper01

Moderator
Staff member
Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf, Director of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Dubai Police said Hushpuppi and his gang were planning a $435million cyber fraud on a global scale, before they were busted.

Al Jallaf told Gulf Today, that the simultaneous raids of Hushpuppi and his gang yielded incriminating documents, which have since been confiscated.

Both Gulf Today and UAE National published salacious details of the arrests of the 12-man gang of fraudsters, led by Raymond Igbalode Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi.

Also arrested with him was Olalekan Jacob Ponle aka “Woodberry”, along with ten other cybercriminals in a special operation.

Dubbed “Fox Hunt 2”, the operation took down the suspects for committing crimes outside the UAE, including money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonating, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft.

Lt. General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, the Commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, said the arrest of ‘Hushpuppi’, ‘Woodberry’ and ten gang members involved in money laundering and cyber fraud activities, is another achievement added to the proud record of Dubai police in ensuring the emirate’s security and safety as well as preserving people’s money and property.

“Similar to operation ‘Fox Hunt 1’ that took down an African gang of nine online scammers last February, Op ‘Fox Hunt 2’ is another painful hit to cybercriminals who try to mess with the world’s security and safety,” he said.

Al Marri further reaffirmed the force’s commitment to foiling cyber fraud and online scams using the latest technology.

“As criminals constantly change their criminal methods, Dubai Police work tirelessly to qualify elites of officers and employees specialised in facilitating the latest technologies to tackle emerging and transnational organised crime,” he said.

The commander-in-chief of Dubai Police also praised the tremendous efforts made by the force’s teams who arrested the suspects and mastered the use of modern technologies.

The director of Dubai CID said the raid resulted in confiscating incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth AED 1.6 billion ($ 435 million).

“The team also seized more than Dhs150 million ($40.9 million) in cash, 13 luxury cars with an estimated value of Dhs25 million ($6.8 million) obtained from fraud crimes, and confiscated 21 computer devices, 47 smartphones, 15 memory sticks, five hard disks containing 119,580 fraud files as well as addresses of 1,926,400 victims”, he said.

After conducting further investigations and analysing confiscated electronic devices, Dubai Police investigators uncovered sensitive information mined by the suspects on individuals and companies overseas including bank accounts and fake credit cards as well as documents and files condemning the gangs’ illegal activities.

According to Expert Major General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, the suspects were caught in a series of synchronised raids by six SWAT teams from Dubai Police.

“The operation was carried out in a highly professional manner in terms of planning and execution as well as setting a zero hour to take down all gang members in the same time,” Al Mansouri said.

Al Mansouri said the operation foiled the gang’s bid to deceive many people from around the world and steal their money.

He also lauded the efforts of the task force assigned to the case.

“The investigation teams at Dubai Police have done a great job in utilising AI-based technologies, including the Criminal Data Analysis Centre at Dubai Police, to track down the cyber fraudsters,” Al Mansouri said.

Revealing the operation’s details, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf, Director of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Dubai Police, said that upon receiving the security intel about an African gang involved in money-laundering and cyber fraud, an investigation team was formed to track down the suspects, make the arrest and put an end to the gang’s illegal activities that have been badly affecting individuals and companies overseas and targeting their bank accounts and credit cards.

“After verifying available information, the team has started to track the gang including “Hushpuppi”, who celebrated his wealth via social media platform, under a businessman façade, in an attempt to lure victims from all over the world,” Al Jallaf said.

Al Jallaf said the anti-cybercrime task force was able to track the gang members and detect their criminal activities including creating fake accounts on social media website with fake nicknames, hacking corporate emails to deceive clients into making money transfers to the gang’s bank accounts.
“After verifying available information, the team has started to track the gang including “Hushpuppi”, who celebrated his wealth via social media platform, under a businessman façade, in an attempt to lure victims from all over the world,” Al Jallaf said.

Al Jallaf said the anti-cybercrime task force was able to track the gang members and detect their criminal activities including creating fake accounts on social media website with fake nicknames, hacking corporate emails to deceive clients into making money transfers to the gang’s bank accounts.
“The suspects also targeted victims overseas by creating fake websites for well-known companies and banks in a bid to steal victims’ credit card information and then launder the stolen money,” Al Jallaf continued.

The director of Dubai CID said the raid resulted in confiscating incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth AED 1.6 billion ($ 435 million).

“The team also seized more than Dhs150 million ($40.9 million) in cash, 13 luxury cars with an estimated value of Dhs25 million ($6.8 million) obtained from fraud crimes, and confiscated 21 computer devices, 47 smartphones, 15 memory sticks, five hard disks containing 119,580 fraud files as well as addresses of 1,926,400 victims”, he said.

After conducting further investigations and analysing confiscated electronic devices, Dubai Police investigators uncovered sensitive information mined by the suspects on individuals and companies overseas including bank accounts and fake credit cards as well as documents and files condemning the gangs’ illegal activities.

Fox Hunt 1
Last February, Dubai Police arrested an African gang of nine fraudsters specialised in cyber scam after they had run 81 fake business across 18 countries around the world.

Dubbed “Fox Hunt 1” the operation revealed a hidden online fraud network that deceived victims into transferring money in return of job opportunities. The gang used multiple bank accounts to make money transfers and deposits totalling more than Dhs32 million ($8.7 million)
The operation prevented the gang from abusing 800,000 email addresses and foiled their bid to steal Dhs4 billion ($1.08 billion).

REVEALED: Hushpuppi, Woodberry were planning $435m cyber heist before arrest
 
Flashy Nigerian Instagrammers 'caught with $40m in cash'

Flashy Nigerian Instagrammers 'caught with $40m in cash'
mrwoodbery in front of Lamborghini


mrwoodberyOlalekan Jacob Ponle, known as "mrwoodbery" to his Instagram followers, flaunted his wealth.

The day after his 29th birthday in May, Olalekan Jacob Ponle posted a picture on his Instagram standing next to a bright yellow Lamborghini in Dubai.

"Stop letting people make you feel guilty for the wealth you've acquired," he admonished, wearing designer jewellery and Gucci clothes from head to toe.

A month later, the Nigerian, who goes by the name "mrwoodbery" on Instagram, was arrested by Dubai Police for alleged money laundering and cyber fraud.

The most famous of the dozen Africans nabbed in the dramatic operation was 37-year-old Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, "hushpuppi" or just "hush" as he was known by his 2.4 million Instagram followers.

Police in the emirate say they recovered $40m (£32m) in cash, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8m, 21 computers, 47 smartphones and the addresses of nearly two million alleged victims.

Mr Abbas and Mr Ponle were both extradited to the US and charged in a Chicago court with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and laundering hundreds of millions of dollars obtained from cybercrimes.

The two have not yet been asked to plead and are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

"I think there's probably a certain arrogance when they believe they've been careful about maintaining anonymity in their online identities, but they live high on the hog and get careless on social media," said Glen Donath, a former senior prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office in Washington, DC.

It is a spectacular crash for the two Nigerian men who extensively documented their high-flying lifestyle on social media, raising questions about the sources of their wealth.

They unwittingly provided crucial information about their identities and activities for American detectives with their Instagram and Snapchat posts.

They are accused of impersonating legitimate employees of various US companies in "business email compromise" (BEC) schemes and tricking the recipients into wiring millions of dollars into their own accounts.

On Instagram, hushpuppi said he was a real estate developer and had a category of videos called "Flexing" - social media lingo for showing off. But the "houses" were actually a codeword for bank accounts "used to receive proceeds of a fraudulent scheme", investigators allege.

"Our value system in Nigeria needs to be checked, especially the emphasis we place on wealth, no matter how you got it," the economist Ebuka Emebinah told the BBC from New York.

"It's a culture where people believe that results speak for you. We don't place as much emphasis on the process and this has built up over time."

English Premier League team targeted
In April, hushpuppi renewed his lease for another year at the exclusive Palazzo Versace apartments in Dubai under his real name and phone number.

"Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings in my life. Continue to shame those waiting for me to be shamed," he captioned an Instagram picture of a Rolls-Royce just a fortnight before he was arrested.

"Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars," the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) said in an affidavit.

In one case, a foreign financial institution allegedly lost $14.7m in a cyber-heist where the money ended up in hushpuppi's bank accounts in multiple countries.

The affidavit also alleged that he was involved in a scheme to steal $124m from an unnamed English Premier League team.

The FBI obtained records from his Google, Apple iCloud, Instagram and Snapchat accounts which allegedly contained banking information, passports, communication with conspirators and records of wire transfers.

About 90% of business email compromise scams originate in West Africa, research from American email security firm Agari shows.

'Yahoo boys'
The complaint against Mr Abbas and Mr Ponle describe tactics that resemble what the company calls Vendor Email Compromise tactics, where scammers compromise an email account and study communication between a customer and a vendor.

"The scammer would gather contextual details, as they watched the legitimate email flow," explains Crane Hassold, Agari's senior director of threat research.

"The bad actor would redirect emails to the bad actor's email account, craft emails to the customer that looked like they are coming from the vendor, indicate that the 'vendor' had a new bank account, provide 'updated' bank account information and the money would be gone, at that point."

Mr Ponle, known online as "mrwoodberry", used Mark Kain in emails, according to the FBI.

He is accused of defrauding a Chicago-based company into sending wire transfers of $15.2m. Companies in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York, and California are also said to have fallen victim.

The cash trail allegedly disappeared after his accomplices, called money mules, converted the money into the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

Email scams have become so prevalent globally, and so deeply linked to Nigeria, that the fraudsters have a name in the country: "Yahoo boys".

They try to convince a recipient to wire money to the other side of the world or they go "phishing", stealing a user's identity and personal information for fraud.

The FBI warns against the Nigerian letter or "419" fraud - emails promising large sums of money, called advance fee scams. The "Nigerian prince" trope has become shorthand for deception.

How Nigeria suffers
Last month, the US Treasury Department blacklisted six Nigerians among 79 individuals and organisations in its Most Wanted cybercriminals list. It accused them of stealing more than $6m from American citizens through deceptive global threats like BEC and romance fraud.

Ayo Bankole Akintujoye - founder of Nigeria-based Bootcamp, a start-up incubation initiative - faults the international attention on Nigeria alone.

"A lot of Nigerians are doing fantastic things all over the world, but they don't get as much media mileage as the guys doing bad things. It affects all the guys doing legitimate stuff especially in the tech space," he said.

"A lot of foreign companies don't ship to Nigeria, many payment platforms don't accept payments from us because it has ruined our image."

In its internet crime report for 2019, the FBI said it had received more than 460,000 complaints of suspected cyber fraud, with losses of more than $3.5bn reported. More than $300m was recovered, it said.

However, many online fraudsters don't get caught and even fewer end up going to jail.

Mr Donath says the cases are challenging because they happen overseas and tend to be quite sophisticated.

"They're time-consuming, highly document-intensive, and in many federal criminal cases, you have the difficulty of walking a jury through a chronology of relevant facts," said the partner at law firm Clifford Chance.

If convicted, Mr Abbas and Mr Ponle could be locked up for up to 20 years.
 

The Doctor

Administrator
Staff member
Nigerian National Brought to U.S. to Face Charges of Conspiring to Launder Hundreds of Millions of Dollars from Cybercrime Schemes

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California
Friday, July 3, 2020

Nigerian National Brought to U.S. to Face Charges of Conspiring to Launder Hundreds of Millions of Dollars from Cybercrime Schemes

COMPLAINT

LOS ANGELES – A Dubai resident who flaunted his extravagant lifestyle on social media has arrived in the United States to face criminal charges alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League soccer club.

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, 37, a.k.a. “Ray Hushpuppi” and “Hush,” a Nigerian national, arrived in Chicago Thursday evening after being expelled from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Abbas made his initial U.S. court appearance this morning in Chicago, and he is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks.

Abbas was arrested last month by UAE law enforcement officials. FBI special agents earlier this week obtained custody of Abbas and brought him to the United States to face a charge of conspiring to engage in money laundering that is alleged in a criminal complaint filed on June 25 by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, Abbas maintains social media accounts that frequently showed him in designer clothes, wearing expensive watches, and posing in or with luxury cars and charter jets. “The FBI’s investigation has revealed that Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and that he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit describes BEC schemes as often involving a computer hacker gaining unauthorized access to a business’ email account, blocking or redirecting communications to and/or from that email account, and then using the compromised email account or a separate fraudulent email account to communicate with personnel from a victim company and to attempt to trick them into making an unauthorized wire transfer.

“BEC schemes are one of the most difficult cybercrimes we encounter as they typically involve a coordinated group of con artists scattered around the world who have experience with computer hacking and exploiting the international financial system,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “This case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle in another country while allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world. As this case demonstrates, my office will continue to hold such criminals accountable, no matter where they live.”

“In 2019 alone, the FBI recorded $1.7 billion in losses by companies and individuals victimized through business email compromise scams, the type of scheme Mr. Abbas is charged with conducting from abroad,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “While this arrest has effectively taken a major alleged BEC player offline, BEC scams represent the most financially costly type of scheme reported to the FBI. I urge anyone who transfers funds personally or on behalf of a company to educate themselves about BEC so they can identify this insidious scheme before losing sizable amounts of money.”

“This was a challenging case, one that spanned international boundaries, traditional financial systems and the digital sphere,” said Jesse Baker, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Los Angles Field Office. “Technology has essentially erased geographic boundaries leaving trans-national criminal syndicates to believe that they are beyond the reach of law enforcement. The success in this case was the direct result of our trusted partnerships between the Department of Justice and our federal law enforcement colleagues. These partnerships helped dismantle a sophisticated organized crime group who preyed upon unsuspecting businesses. It is thanks to these partnerships that the American people can feel a bit more secure today.”

The affidavit alleges that Abbas and others committed a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019. Abbas and co-conspirators allegedly tricked one of the law firm’s paralegals into wiring money intended for the client’s real estate refinancing to a bank account that was controlled by Abbas and the co-conspirators.

The affidavit also alleges that Abbas conspired to launder funds stolen in a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution in February 2019, in which the stolen money was sent to bank accounts around the world. Abbas allegedly provided a co-conspirator with two bank accounts in Europe that Abbas anticipated each would receive €5 million (about $5.6 million) of the fraudulently obtained funds.

Abbas and others further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million (approximately $124 million) from an English Premier League soccer club, the complaint alleges.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Abbas would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The FBI led the investigation of Abbas, and the United States Secret Service was also involved and provided substantial assistance. The FBI further thanks the government of the United Arab Emirates and the Dubai Police Department for their substantial assistance.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Joseph B. Woodring of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in this matter.
 
Hushpuppi's lawyer says FBI 'kidnapped' Nigerian Instagrammer from Dubai FBI 'kidnapped' Instagrammer from Dubai - lawyer

Brilliant. The mugu steals $50M and now he’s wining that his rights were violated. Lol. I think this olodo surrendered his rights when he made his first chup ooo.

I actually feel pity for this oloshi. So I’m going to send him a healthy he-goat to share the cell with him.
 

toper01

Moderator
Staff member
He's been on the US Fed radar for several years,bloody fantastic to see the lad finally facing justice.Oddly,there was a GoFundMe started in his name asking for donations to get bail.I'd strongly suggest it was another lad trying it on. I think the GFM might have been reported for breaching the site terms,by a civic minded member of the public...(cough,cough)
 
Brilliant work oga! Indeed, definitely another he-goat behind that GFM page.

Also, if the Feds were working on gathering evidence to take down this mugu for years, then it is 100% game over for the phoool. They will never strike before they have enough evidence to lock the cell door and walk away. They are very methodical and they know the full legal boundaries of what they are doing. You know they didn't leave any boxes unchecked when they swooped. A Nigerian who stole $50M from large corporations and is now in Federal prison in America - That mumu has been removed from the playing field and is going to rut in his 8x12 foreverrrr ooo. No more yellow lambos in Dubai for diss truk pusher me thinks.

And that dirty-money chasing lawyer is grasping at straws. That POS will never see a dime of his drooled-over fees from the lad. The mugu's money is obviously now all in the hands of the Feds. Maybe one of the lad's mates will even figure out a way to chup that dodgy lawyer for a Westy later on too ooo.
 

Roboto

Administrator
FBI 'kidnapped' Instagrammer from Dubai - lawyer

Hushpuppi's lawyer says FBI 'kidnapped' Nigerian Instagrammer from Dubai

By Larry Madowo Technology journalist
10 July 2020


A Nigerian man accused of multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering by the United States was kidnapped by the FBI from Dubai, his lawyer says.

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas - known to his 2.5 million Instagram followers as Ray Hushpuppi - and another cyber-heist suspect Olalekan Jacob Ponle (aka Mr Woodberry) were arrested in Dubai, where they lived, in June.

They then appeared in a Chicago court on 3 July.

The United Arab Emirates has no extradition treaty with the United States but Dubai police said they had been extradited to the US.

A spokesman for the US Department of Justice told the BBC that Hushpuppi was expelled from Dubai and was not extradited. He did not answer how he ended up in US custody.

What does Hushpuppi's lawyer say?
Mr Abbas' lawyer Gal Pissetzky told the BBC that his client, who posts on Instagram about his extravagant lifestyle, was not a criminal and had made his money legitimately.

"He is a social media influencer with millions of followers, with millions of people that respect and loved him, and he loved them, and that's what he did. In today's society, that's a business," he said.

Mr Pissetzky admits that he is not "100% familiar" with social media and his children consider him too old but he knows "that's how people make money today".

The Chicago defence lawyer's argument that Hushpuppi was paid by designer brands for promotion has set the stage for what promises to be a long trial in American courts.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accuses Mr Abbas, 37, of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from frauds known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and other scams.

Did the US act legally?
It is the latest high-profile fraud case involving a Nigerian national in the United States but his lawyer says the US had no authority to transport him from Dubai.

"In my opinion, the FBI and the government here acted illegally when they kidnapped him from Dubai without any legal process to do so," Mr Pissetzky told the BBC.

"There was no extradition, there were no legal steps taken, there were no court documents filed, it was simply a call to the FBI. He is not a citizen of the United States, the US had absolutely no authority to take him," his lawyer says.

But the Dubai police said in a Facebook post that the FBI director had thanked them for extraditing the two men.

"You'll have to ask them about why they called it an extradition," the US Department of Justice (DoJ) spokesman responded in an email.

In a statement about Mr Abbas' initial court appearance, the DoJ said "FBI special agents earlier this week obtained custody of Abbas and brought him to the United States" without giving any further details.

Mr Pissetzky is not convinced.

"If Dubai wanted to expel him, they should have expelled him back to Nigeria. I've never heard of anything like that. That is the real story here."

What is he accused of?
Ray Hushpuppi was already popular on Instagram for his luxurious lifestyle documented exhaustively on his page but he has gained another 100,000 followers since his dramatic arrest.

At the time, Dubai police said they recovered $40m (£32m) in cash, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8m, 21 computers, 47 smartphones and the addresses of nearly two million alleged victims.

How a 419 and romance scam works
An individual may contact you via e-mail, explaining he needs help to transfer money
Will tell you that political turmoil or a natural disaster makes it difficult for him to make the transfer
Will ask you to give him your financial details so that he can transfer the money into your account
This allows him to access and steal from your account
Be careful what you post on social media and dating sites as scammers use the details to better understand you and target you

The affidavit claims that Mr Abbas conspired to launder $14.7m (£11.7m) stolen in a cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution in February 2019.

It did not name the institution by name but a bank in Malta reported losing the same sum to hackers that same month.

The bank did not respond to a request for comment.

The FBI says $1.7bn was lost by individuals and companies in business email compromise scams in 2019 alone.

"This case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle in another country while allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world," United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement when the charges were announced.

But Hushpuppi's lawyer says his client earned his money by monetising his large social media presence. He refused to discuss how he was getting paid for legal fees or the source of Hushpuppi's money.

Mr Pissetzky says the case could last several months, even longer than a year.

What about 'Mr Woodberry'?


Mr Ponle, the other Nigerian arrested in Dubai and currently in custody in the United States, is also preparing for trial.

His lawyer Michael B Nash told the judge at a detention hearing on Thursday that he had not had a chance to speak to his client. When he was allowed 15 minutes in a virtual breakout room to confer with Mr Ponle, he returned to request a new date for the hearing.

"I really don't have any comment right now, I have to learn the facts about this case," he told the BBC.

Mr Ponle, 29, ran the "Mr Woodberry" Instagram account but the FBI says he used the alias "Mark Kain" in emails. He is facing charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The complaint against him says one Chicago-based company "was defrauded into sending wire transfers totalling $15.2m". He is accused of converting some of the proceeds into a Bitcoin digital wallet, effectively ensuring that they could not be traced.

"Mr Ponle, are you there?" a court deputy asked on Thursday when he dialled into the hearing from federal prison.

"Yes, please," he replied, subdued. He did not speak again.

Abbas, from his instagram account

_113266099_capture.jpgv.jpg



Mr Penle

_113275216_index.jpg
 

Roboto

Administrator
Dubai-based 'cyber criminal' Hushpuppi accused of targeting English Premier League club in £100m scam

Dubai-based 'cyber criminal' Hushpuppi accused of targeting English Premier League club in £100m scam

Alleged gang leader, who was arrested in Dubai, could face decades in US prison

Paul Peachey
July 8, 2020

Instagram celebrity Ramon Abbas has been accused in the US of a plot to target an English Premier League club in a £100 million fraud.

Mr Abbas, 37, a Nigerian businessman known to millions of Instagram followers as Hushpuppi, is said to have targeted victims around the world in cyber heists worth hundreds of millions of dollars, US court documents claim.

He was arrested in Dubai last month and extradited to the US, where he has been accused of being the money-launderer for a gang involved in hacking corporate emails and directing huge payments to accounts they controlled.

He was allegedly involved in laundering the proceeds of scams worth “hundreds of millions of dollars”.

Mr Abbas was identified on the phone contacts list of another unnamed conspirator as the “Billionaire Gucci Master!!!”, according to the documents.

Their targets included the unidentified football club, Malta’s oldest bank and a company based in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, which they tried to defraud of £200 million (Dh927m/$252.3m).

It was not clear if the attempted frauds of the football club and the UK-based company were successful, but some of the efforts to transfer money from the Maltese bank appear to have failed, according to messages between the plotters.

Mr Abbas was arrested last month along with another Nigerian, Olalekan Jacob Ponle, known as Woodberry, and 10 other men.

Dubai police confiscated 13 luxury cars, computers and smartphones during the raids.

Mr Ponle has also been charged in the US with wire fraud, ripping off several US companies and stealing tens of millions of dollars. Both men face several decades in prison if convicted.

Mr Abbas’s address was given in US court documents as a residence at the five-star Palazzo Versace hotel in Dubai.

The complex on Dubai Creek is described on its website as “truly symbolic of the Versace lifestyle”.

The businessman is due to appear in court in the US state of Illinois again on Thursday, charged with conspiracy to launder money secured from the various cyber crimes that netted vast sums.

The Nigerian posed as a real estate investor and businessman. Pictures from his Instagram account - which has more than two million followers - show him landing at Atlantis, The Palm in a helicopter. Courtesy: Dubai Police / Dubai Media Office

Instagram celebrity Ramon Abbas has been accused in the US of a plot to target an English Premier League club in a £100 million fraud.

Mr Abbas, 37, a Nigerian businessman known to millions of Instagram followers as Hushpuppi, is said to have targeted victims around the world in cyber heists worth hundreds of millions of dollars, US court documents claim.

He was arrested in Dubai last month and extradited to the US, where he has been accused of being the money-launderer for a gang involved in hacking corporate emails and directing huge payments to accounts they controlled.

He was allegedly involved in laundering the proceeds of scams worth “hundreds of millions of dollars”.

Mr Abbas was identified on the phone contacts list of another unnamed conspirator as the “Billionaire Gucci Master!!!”, according to the documents.

Their targets included the unidentified football club, Malta’s oldest bank and a company based in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, which they tried to defraud of £200 million (Dh927m/$252.3m).

It was not clear if the attempted frauds of the football club and the UK-based company were successful, but some of the efforts to transfer money from the Maltese bank appear to have failed, according to messages between the plotters.

The businessman is due to appear in court in the US state of Illinois again on Thursday, charged with conspiracy to launder money secured from the various cyber crimes that netted vast sums.

Investigators highlighted Hushpuppi’s wealthy lifestyle in the UAE, which he flaunted on Instagram to his 2.3 million followers.

They included pictures of himself in June with a white Rolls-Royce Cullinan that included the hashtag “AllMine”.

Four months earlier he posted a photo of himself in front of two cars, including a Rolls-Royce Wraith.

The starting price of both cars was about $330,000, an FBI investigator said.

Mr Abbas was also pictured with Ferraris, Bentleys, inside private jets and wearing high-value watches and designer clothes.

Court filings accuse him of involvement in a scam to launder €13m (Dh54.1m) fraudulently transferred from Malta’s Bank of Valletta to accounts around the world.

The bank, the oldest on the island, closed its branches, ATM machines and website, after discovering the attempt to hack into its system.

Employees uncovered the problem as they tallied international transfers and sought to reclaim the money.

Mr Abbas provided details for two accounts in Romania and Bulgaria that could each receive €5m from the scam, a review of phone messages between Mr Abbas and his unidentified co-conspirator showed.

The messages revealed the two men discussed whether the transfer had been successful after the money failed to show up in the Romanian account.

The second man told Mr Abbas: “Brother, we still have access and they didn’t realise, we gonna shoot again tomoro am”.

But the plotters' plans were scuppered after employees got wind of the plot and the attempted heist was publicised.

The second man sent an image of a news report detailing the theft of funds from the bank. “Look it hit the news,” he wrote.

Abbas replied: “Damn”

“Next one is in a few weeks will let U know when it’s ready. Too bad they caught on or it would have been a nice payout,” the second man wrote.

The court documents suggest Mr Abbas was struggling to keep up with the demand to open new bank accounts in Mexico and Europe to receive millions of dollars from the scams in the US and UK.

His alleged co-conspirator told him in 2019 that he was working with hackers who could obtain $1m to $5m once or twice a week after hacking the email accounts of senior executives.

“I have other companies ready to swap bro, pls help me out I am losing millions,” the second man said in May 2019.

Once they had successfully taken on the identity of an executive, they sent messages to staff telling them to transfer money to fake accounts that were under the control of the Nigerian scammers.

The money was then transferred out of the accounts – some of it into bitcoin – before the businesses realised what was happening.

Legal proceedings in the US continue on Thursday.

Abbas in custody in Dubai

Hushpuppi 3.JPG
 

XSS

Ninja
"In my opinion, the FBI and the government here acted illegally when they kidnapped him from Dubai without any legal process to do so," Mr Pissetzky told the BBC.

I wonder if he has seen the complaint. He can click the link and download it.

Nigerian National Brought to U.S. to Face Charges of Conspiring to Launder Hundreds of Millions of Dollars from Cybercrime Schemes

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California
Friday, July 3, 2020

Nigerian National Brought to U.S. to Face Charges of Conspiring to Launder Hundreds of Millions of Dollars from Cybercrime Schemes

COMPLAINT

LOS ANGELES – A Dubai resident who flaunted his extravagant lifestyle on social media has arrived in the United States to face criminal charges alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League soccer club.

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, 37, a.k.a. “Ray Hushpuppi” and “Hush,” a Nigerian national, arrived in Chicago Thursday evening after being expelled from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Abbas made his initial U.S. court appearance this morning in Chicago, and he is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks.

Abbas was arrested last month by UAE law enforcement officials. FBI special agents earlier this week obtained custody of Abbas and brought him to the United States to face a charge of conspiring to engage in money laundering that is alleged in a criminal complaint filed on June 25 by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, Abbas maintains social media accounts that frequently showed him in designer clothes, wearing expensive watches, and posing in or with luxury cars and charter jets. “The FBI’s investigation has revealed that Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and that he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit describes BEC schemes as often involving a computer hacker gaining unauthorized access to a business’ email account, blocking or redirecting communications to and/or from that email account, and then using the compromised email account or a separate fraudulent email account to communicate with personnel from a victim company and to attempt to trick them into making an unauthorized wire transfer.

“BEC schemes are one of the most difficult cybercrimes we encounter as they typically involve a coordinated group of con artists scattered around the world who have experience with computer hacking and exploiting the international financial system,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “This case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle in another country while allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world. As this case demonstrates, my office will continue to hold such criminals accountable, no matter where they live.”

“In 2019 alone, the FBI recorded $1.7 billion in losses by companies and individuals victimized through business email compromise scams, the type of scheme Mr. Abbas is charged with conducting from abroad,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “While this arrest has effectively taken a major alleged BEC player offline, BEC scams represent the most financially costly type of scheme reported to the FBI. I urge anyone who transfers funds personally or on behalf of a company to educate themselves about BEC so they can identify this insidious scheme before losing sizable amounts of money.”

“This was a challenging case, one that spanned international boundaries, traditional financial systems and the digital sphere,” said Jesse Baker, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Los Angles Field Office. “Technology has essentially erased geographic boundaries leaving trans-national criminal syndicates to believe that they are beyond the reach of law enforcement. The success in this case was the direct result of our trusted partnerships between the Department of Justice and our federal law enforcement colleagues. These partnerships helped dismantle a sophisticated organized crime group who preyed upon unsuspecting businesses. It is thanks to these partnerships that the American people can feel a bit more secure today.”

The affidavit alleges that Abbas and others committed a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019. Abbas and co-conspirators allegedly tricked one of the law firm’s paralegals into wiring money intended for the client’s real estate refinancing to a bank account that was controlled by Abbas and the co-conspirators.

The affidavit also alleges that Abbas conspired to launder funds stolen in a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution in February 2019, in which the stolen money was sent to bank accounts around the world. Abbas allegedly provided a co-conspirator with two bank accounts in Europe that Abbas anticipated each would receive €5 million (about $5.6 million) of the fraudulently obtained funds.

Abbas and others further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million (approximately $124 million) from an English Premier League soccer club, the complaint alleges.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Abbas would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The FBI led the investigation of Abbas, and the United States Secret Service was also involved and provided substantial assistance. The FBI further thanks the government of the United Arab Emirates and the Dubai Police Department for their substantial assistance.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Joseph B. Woodring of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in this matter.
 
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