Finally, US court sentences Hushpuppi

INTERNATIONAL fraudster, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas popularly known as Hushpuppi, has been sentenced to over 11 years in federal prison by a United States (US) court in Los Angeles, California, on Monday.

The US District Judge Otis D. Wright II, gave the sentence after at least four postponements and ordered the 40-year-old convict to pay $1,732,841 in restitution to two fraud victims.

    The judge said Hushpuppi conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars through online scams and flaunted his luxurious, crime-funded lifestyle on social media.

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    “Money laundering and business email compromise 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,” said Judge Wright II.

    It would be recalled that Abbas pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, 10 months after he was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), in June 2020. He had been remanded in US federal custody since his expulsion from the UAE.

    His fraudulent activities targeted both American and international victims, making him one of the most prolific money launderers in the world, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said.

    During the course of investigations it was discovered that Abbas conspired with Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a convicted money launderer, to launder funds derived from various crimes, including bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes and other online frauds.

    BEC schemes typically involve gaining unauthorised access to a business email account and attempting to trick a victim into making an unauthorised wire transfer.

    According to the findings, in January 2019, Hushpuppi conspired with Alaumary to launder funds stolen from a bank in Malta by providing account information for banks in Romania and Bulgaria.

    Hushpuppi also fraudulently induced a New York-based law firm in October 2019 to transfer approximately $922,857 to an account that a co-conspirator controlled under someone else’s name.

    He also admitted in his plea agreement to conspiring with others to defraud an individual in Qatar who sought a loan of $15 million to build a school.

    At the sentencing hearing on Monday, Judge Wright II, ordered Hushpuppi to pay $922,857 in restitution to the law firm victim and $809,983 in restitution to a businessperson in Qatar.

    He and another conspirator duped the businessperson into paying approximately $330,000 to fund an “investor’s account” to facilitate the loan.

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