FBI arrests Nigerian Instagram celebrity over international money laundering scheme: Report

The FBI arrested a 37-year-old Instagram star on Thursday over what authorities allege was a multimillion-dollar money laundering scheme that crossed international borders.

According to Insider, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, also known as “Ray Hushpuppi,” was taken into federal custody on July 2. The Nigeria native has more than 2.4 million followers on Instagram, where he has shared hundreds of photos of himself living a lavish lifestyle.

 

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Insider reports that his life of luxury was included in a criminal complaint filed against Abbas late last month.

Email schemes and “cyber-heists”

According to Insider, the complaint alleges “that Abbas used ‘business email compromise’ schemes and ‘cyber-heists’ using third-party ‘money mules’ to launder money through a series of bank accounts.”

His crimes included defrauding “a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019 after he and a co-conspirator ‘tricked a paralegal’ into wiring them money that was intended for the client’s real estate refinancing,” Insider reported.

Prosecutors also allege in the complaint that Abbas was involved in a conspiracy to launder $14.7 million from a foreign bank, and that he targeted a soccer club with the English Premier League, from which he hoped to steal $124 million, according to Insider.

The jig is up

Abbas was reportedly arrested in Chicago after being expelled from the United Arab Emirates. According to NBC News, Abbas made his first court appearance in Chicago on Friday.

Prosecutors said that Abbas is “expected to be transferred to Los Angeles to face charges pending there in the coming weeks,” NBC reported.

According to Insider, Abbas could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement released by the Department of Justice.

He went on: “As this case demonstrates, my office will continue to hold such criminals accountable, no matter where they live.”

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