- Nigerian influencer Ramon Abbas has been sentenced to 135 months in prison for money laundering and fraud.
- Abbas, who’s also known as Hushpuppi, often flaunted his flamboyant lifestyle on Instagram.
- Abbas has been in federal custody since he was arrested in Dubai in 2020.
A Nigerian influencer named Ramon Abbas — also known by his Instagram handle, “Hushpuppi” — has been sentenced to 135 months in federal prison for money laundering and internet fraud, the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced in a statement on Monday.
Abbas, 40, was also ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution to two fraud victims, per the statement. He was taken into federal custody in June 2020 after he was arrested in Dubai and expelled from the United Arab Emirates.
In one scheme in January 2019, Abbas worked with a co-conspirator to launder $14.7 million that North Korean hackers stole from a bank in Malta, per the statement.
In another scheme, Abbas conspired with others to defraud a businessman in Qatar who tried to loan $15 million to build a school, per the statement.
After duping the victim into transferring $330,000 over to facilitate the loan, Abbas used the money to fund his lavish lifestyle — including purchasing a $230,000 Richard Mille watch that “made numerous appearances on Abbas’ wrist on his now-defunct Instagram account,” per the statement.
On Instagram, Abbas regaled his followers with pictures of himself in designer clothes and posing with luxury cars and private jets.
His social-media posts eventually caught the attention of investigators and were used as evidence to establish the charges against him, per an FBI affidavit filed by Special Agent Andrew Innocenti in June 2020.
According to the affidavit, Abbas “finances this opulent lifestyle through crime,” and is “one of the leaders of a transnational network” that targets victims around the world “in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.”
A Nigerian driver named Seye, who knew Abbas as a child, told the BBC in September 2021 that Abbas’ father was a taxi driver while his mother worked at a market. As he grew older, Abbas became involved in cybercrime as a “Yahoo” boy, Seye said, referring to a term used to describe love scammers in the country.
Abbas’ lawyer, John O. Iweanoge, II, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.