Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, commonly known as Hushpuppi to many of his followers is a Nigerian Instagram celebrity who is facing criminal charges in the United States for conspiracy to launder money obtained from business email compromise frauds, and other scams.
That is a rather business-like intro. Let's begin with a little backstory...
Abbas grew up poor in Lagos, Nigeria. His father was a cab driver and his mother sold bread on the road.
As a child, he would go almost every day to a woman who sold food to impoverished children on credit until later on when they could pay her.
At some point in his youth, he got involved in the Yahoo business which is the informal language for online fraud schemers in Nigeria. The "Yahoo" schemes started taking off in the early 2000s with the dot-com boom.
Many youth who were suffering tough economic times in Nigeria would congregate at cyber cafes around Abbas' neigbourhood and use free Yahoo email addresses to do their scams.
They would seek gullible people and con them of their money, schemes that weren't complicated. However, the con that really made them the big cash was the business email compromise fraud or BEC's.
According to the FBI, BECs' are the costliest form of cybercrime in the USA as it targets corporations. For a thorough explanation of what it is, check the Interpol article explaining it here.
This is where Hushpuppi came in, he would be the person who was the "money loader" in the BEC scheme.
The only problem is that he refused to keep a low profile, something that exposed him to the authorities.
In 2014, he would flee Nigeria to go to Malaysia. This was at a time when local authorities had started cracking down on cyber-crime with renewed vigour.
In fact, in Kuala Lumpur he became even more brazen in showing off his ill-gotten riches, selling himself as the boy who picked himself from the bootstraps.
The funny thing is that despite him being filthy rich he would dodge the question of how he had made his money when asked.
The only answer he could come up with was that he was a real estate investor, something that raised eyebrows as he didn't have a lot of real estate to show.
In 2016, Hush had already become sort of a celeb in Nigeria with even one singer in his home country bragging about his wealth in a song.
He even got into a beef with singer Davido who claimed that he hadn't paid a bill at a nightclub. They later did a video together where they made up.
The most interesting thing about Hushpuppi was that major fashion luxury brands actually started sponsoring him! Yep, uppity fashion brands wanted him to promote their goods!
He even got custom-made shoes from Christian Louboutin and a custom purple Rolls!!!! In all this, the question one has to ask is why would he was willing to expose himself to the authorities like this?
With the money he was earning from his scamming activities he didn't need any brand endorsement money.
His luck would finally run out...
Years of his fellow Nigerians questioning the source of his wealth would finally get the attention of Interpol and the FBI.
The two agencies had been watching him for some time but couldn't pinpoint the source of his wealth.
In October 2018 on his birthday, the FBI finally got their big break using his date of birth to track down a visa application he had made.
From there it was like a domino effect as a clearer picture begun to emerge. But even with that smoking gun they still didn't have enough to arrest him.
So they proceeded to surveil him for months as they built a concrete case against him, observing him and a friend called Alumari try to steal millions of Euros from a bank in Malta.
The worst part is that Hush and his cohort were so careless they would plan their schemes with their own personal contact lines, having no regard that they could be traced!
The FBI's net would start closing on Hushpuppi with law enforcement arresting many of his confidantes, people who had done illegal business with him.
But what did Hush do? Did he go underground?! Nope, the man was set in his ways and proceeded to continue parading his life on his Instagram page! The party must go on people!!! YOLO!!!
But on June 8th, 2020, the FBI was finally ready to use the evidence they had on him, arresting Hush along with 11 of his colleagues in Dubai. The bell had tolled for the international fiend.
In April this year, he pled guilty to money laundering and wire fraud charges and is still awaiting sentencing. He could face up to 20 years in jail.
One thing to note is that when Hush was arrested he had $40 million(Ksh 4 billion!) in cash, yet he was still committing fraud!
He certainly didn't need the money. Why was he still doing it? What was his end-game? Only he knows the answer to that...
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