Nigerian man sentenced to over 11 years in federal prison for conspiring to launder tens of millions of dollars from online scams | USAO-CDCA
LOS ANGELES – A prolific international fraudster who conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars through a series of online scams and flaunted his lavish, crime-funded lifestyle on social media was today sentenced to 135 months in federal prison.
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, a 40-year-old Nigerian national, also known by his Instagram username, “Ray Hushpuppi”, was sentenced by US District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who also ordered Abbas to pay 1 $732,841 in compensation for two frauds. victims.
Abbas pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. He was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in June 2020 and has remained in federal custody since his deportation from the United Arab Emirates.
“Abbas bragged on social media about his lavish lifestyle — a lifestyle funded by his involvement in transnational fraud and money laundering conspiracies targeting victims around the world,” the prosecutor said. American Martin Estrada. “Money laundering and business email compromise scams are a huge international crime problem, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement and international partners to identify and prosecute those involved, wherever ‘they lie.’
“Ramon Abbas, aka ‘Hushpuppi,’ targeted both American and international victims, becoming one of the most prolific money launderers in the world,” said Don Alway, deputy director in charge of the FBI’s field office. in Los Angeles. “Abbas has taken advantage of his social media platforms – where he has amassed a sizable following – to gain notoriety and boast of the immense wealth he has acquired by running business email compromise scams, thefts banking and other cyber frauds that have financially ruined dozens of victims and provided assistance to the North Korean regime.This significant sentence is the result of years of collaboration between law enforcement agencies from multiple countries and should send a clear warning to international fraudsters that the FBI will seek justice for the victims, whether the criminals operate inside or outside the borders of the United States.
Abbas conspired with Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a convicted money launderer, to launder funds from various crimes including cyber bank heists, email compromise schemes professional (BEC) and other online frauds. BEC schemes typically involve gaining unauthorized access to a business email account and attempting to trick a victimized business into making an unauthorized bank transfer.
In January 2019, Abbas conspired with Alaumary to launder stolen funds from a bank in Malta by providing bank account information in Romania and Bulgaria. The United States has accused North Korean hackers of carrying out the cyber heist of a bank in Malta and alleged that these funds were intended for the North Korean government. Abbas admitted that the expected loss to the Maltese bank was around $14.7 million.
In May 2019, Abbas conspired with Alaumary to launder millions of pounds stolen from a professional football club in the UK as well as a UK business. As part of the scheme, Abbas provided Alaumary with details of a bank account in Mexico that “could handle millions and not block”, according to court documents.
Abbas also fraudulently tricked a New York-based law firm in October 2019 into transferring around $922,857 to an account a co-conspirator controlled under someone else’s name.
Alaumary was charged separately and pleaded guilty in November 2020 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. He is serving a 140-month federal prison sentence and was ordered to pay more than $30 million in restitution.
Abbas also admitted in his plea agreement to conspiring with others to defraud an individual in Qatar who applied for a $15 million loan to build a school.
During today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Wright ordered Abbas to pay $922,857 in restitution to the victimized law firm and $809,983 in restitution to the businessman in Qatar.
Abbas and another conspirator tricked the victim businessman into paying around $330,000 to fund an “investor account” to facilitate the loan. Abbas specifically ordered the victim to send $100,000 to a bank account controlled by a co-conspirator and $230,000 to the bank account of a luxury watch seller. Abbas used these funds for his personal benefit, including purchasing a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch worth $230,000, which he arranged to have brought to him from New York to Dubai. The watch made numerous appearances on Abbas’ wrist on his now-defunct Instagram account, often with the hashtag #RichardMille.
Approximately $50,000 of the proceeds of the scheme were used to fraudulently acquire St. Kitts (St. Kitts) and Nevis citizenship and a passport for Abbas through a sham marriage to a St. Kitts citizen.
In January and February 2020, Abbas and another conspirator corresponded with the victim businessman, attempting to fraudulently induce an additional payment of $575,000 in alleged taxes to unlock the $15 million loan. In February 2020, the victim sent approximately $299,983 to Kenyan bank accounts specified by another conspirator. In March 2020, Abbas fraudulently tricked the victim into sending an additional $180,000 to US-based bank accounts; these funds were then laundered with the help of several accomplices.
“By his own admission, during a period of 18 months alone, the defendant conspired to launder more than $300 million,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “While much of this anticipated loss ultimately did not materialize, [Abbas’] his willingness and ability to participate in large-scale money laundering underscores the seriousness of his criminal conduct.
The FBI investigated this case as part of Operation Top Dog. The FBI thanks the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Dubai Police Department for their substantial assistance in this case.
Assistant United States Attorney Khaldoun Shobaki of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section prosecuted the case. The Office of International Affairs of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice provided substantial assistance in this case.