Social Media Influencer Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison for Cyber Fraud
He Used BEC Scams, Social Engineering Tactics, and More.
‘Ray Hushpuppi’, an Instagram celebrity, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for conspiring to launder tens of millions of dollars via business email compromise (BEC) scams and other cyber frauds.
A law company in the United States and a businessperson in Qatar have both been identified as victims of the 40-year-old Nigerian, whose real name is Ramon Olorunwa Abbas. He has been ordered to pay restitution of $1,732,841.
‘One of the Most Prolific Money Launderers in the World’
The U.S. Department of Justice claims Abbas testified to prosecutors that he conspired to launder approximately $300 million over the course of 18 months, from 2019 to 2022, however not all of his schemes were successful in defrauding his targets.
Ramon Abbas, a.k.a. ‘Ray Hushpuppi,’ targeted both American and international victims, becoming one of the most prolific money launderers in the world. Abbas leveraged his social media platforms – where he amassed a considerable following – to gain notoriety and to brag about the immense wealth he acquired by conducting business email compromise scams, online bank heists and other cyber-enabled fraud that financially ruined scores of victims and provided assistance to the North Korean regime.
The statement of Don Alway, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office
The money launderer helped North Korean hackers steal money from European banks. Abbas used the earnings from these activities to develop a grandiose Instagram persona and become an influencer, which facilitated his social engineering attacks.
Abbas was detained in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in June of 2020 and pled guilty to money laundering charges in April of the following year. The DoJ notice listed some of Abbas’s frauds, outlined below:
- January 2019—offered to launder $14.7 million seized by North Korean hackers in a Maltese bank cyberheist through Romanian and Bulgarian accounts.
- May 2019—laundered millions of pounds stolen from a UK professional football club via Mexican bank accounts.
- October 2019—defrauded a New York law firm of $922,857.
According to Bleeping Computer, Abbas also scammed businesspeople from Qatar with fake multi-million loans. Abbas conned a man into paying $330,000 for loan approval. Ghaled Alaumary, Abbas’ co-conspirator in many of these scams, pleaded guilty to money laundering in November 2020 and is receiving a 140-month sentence. He was sentenced to pay nearly $30,000,000 in restitution, suggesting he was the main beneficiary of the schemes.
The press announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California is available here.
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