Ramon Igbalode popularly known as Hushpuppi faces the possibility of spending 20 years of his life in a US prison if found guilty of the fraud allegations levelled against him.
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.”
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.
Police said the suspects scammed over 1.9 million people in a fraudulent scheme worth $435m (N168bn). Thirteen luxury cars, estimated at N3.7bn; 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 storage devices, and five hard disks containing data were recovered from the house where they were arrested
Abbas, alongside his accomplices, including Olalekan Ponle (aka Woodberry), were arrested by officials of the Dubai Police and Interpol on June 10 for a series of crimes like money laundering, fraud, hacking of websites and accounts, impersonation and banking fraud.
The US DOJ said a criminal complaint was filed on June 25 by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles after FBI’s investigation showed that Abbas financed this opulent lifestyle through crime and that he was one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitated computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.
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.
“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.”