A Nigerian social media influencer was sentenced on Monday to more than 11 years in prison for laundering millions of dollars on behalf of drug dealers and other criminals.4
Ramon Abbas has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $1.7m in restitution to two victims of fraud, the US Department of Justice announced.
According to the FBI, Abbas was “one of the most prolific money launderers in the world.”
Prosecutors said Abbas and a Canadian man laundered money from a variety of online crimes, including bank cyberheists and business email compromise (BEC). This is a common crime where criminals hack into people’s email accounts, pretending to be someone they are not, and fooling victims into wiring money where it doesn’t belong.
In 2019, he helped move $14.7 million that had been stolen by North Korean hackers from a bank in Malta, subjecting the funds to a series of fraudulent transactions that eventually brought it to banks in Romania and Bulgaria.
In addition to stealing millions of pounds from a British company, he also managed to get a New York-based law firm to transfer nearly $923,000 to a criminal account. He even acknowledged in his plea agreement that he helped defraud someone who was seeking a $15m loan from Qatar to build a school.
In July 2021, Nigeria’s police service commission suspended Abba Kyari, a top Nigerian police officer, following an FBI indictment linking him with Abbas.
On Monday, Abbas was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1,732,840 in restitution to the law firm and $1,707,783 in restitution to the victim.
A defendant admitted that, in just 18 months, he was able to launder $300 million. Although many of them never amounted to the originally planned losses, this is still an outrageously high amount of money.
Abbas, using the alias Ray Hushpuppi, had more than two million Instagram followers before he was arrested in 2020 in Dubai.
His social media posts showed him living a life of limitless luxury. To get that kind of lifestyle, he had private jets, ultra-expensive cars, and high-end clothes and watches.
Earlier this year, Abbas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. “I hope someday I will be inspiring more young people to join me on this path,” he wrote on Instagram, “We’re fighting for our freedom.”
In 2020, Ghaleb Alaumary plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $30 million in restitution.