The notorious money-launderer targeted American and international victims.
Nigerian content creator Ramon Abbas, notoriously known as ‘Ray Hushpuppi’, has been sentenced for 11 years in a US federal prison following a major fraud scheme, California’s Department of Justice said on Sunday.
Hushpuppi, 40, was among among six indicted by the Central District of California last year after attempting to scam a Qatari businessperson to finance the construction of a fake school at the cost of at least $15 million.
He was arrested in Dubai in 2020 and has remained in federal custody since his arrest.
The “prolific fraudster”, with some 2.8 million followers on social media, had pretended to be a bank official who created “a bogus website”, said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison last year.
The influencer has now admitted to the crime and was ordered by a Los Angeles court to pay $1,732,841 in restitution to the two victims in Qatar combined, read court documents. He also pleaded guilty in April last year to money laundering.
Don Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, revealed Abbas targeted American and international victims.
“This significant sentence is the result of years’ worth of collaboration among law enforcement in multiple countries and should send a clear warning to international fraudsters that the FBI will seek justice for victims, regardless of whether criminals operate within or outside United States borders,” said Alway.
The scam squad
The content creator worked alongside Kenyan 28-year-old Abdulrahman Imraan Juma, ‘Abdul’, and 40-year-old Kelly Chibuzo Vincent from Nigeria, to scam the Qatari businessperson by posing as consultants and bankers working to finance the construction of the fake school.
Juma pretended to be the facilitator of the loans, Abbas played the role of ‘Malik’, a Wells Fargo banker in New York, while Vincent worked to orchestrate false narratives to trick the businessperson.
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Yusuf Adekinka Anifowoshe, ‘AJ’, of Brooklyn, New York, assisted Abbas in calling the victim while 28-year-old Rukayat Motunraya Fashola, ‘Morayo’ of Valley Stream, New York, and 34-year-old Bolatito Tawakalitu Agbabiaka, ‘Bolamide’ of Linden, New Jersey, worked on the laundering process.
Some $50,000 was used by the mastermind of the scheme to acquire a St. Christopher and Nevis citizenship.
The Departmenr of Justice said last year that the culprits were all exposed following an internal dispute that drove Vincent to contact the victim and claim that Abbas and Juma were partaking in a fraud.
Abbas then tried to have Vincent jailed in Nigeria by “a highly decorated deputy commissioner of the Nigeria Police Force”, who then sent ‘Hushpuppi’ images of the arrest along with bank account details for the payment.