A Nigerian Social Media star has appeared in US Court
A social media star known variously as “Hush” and “Ray Hushpuppi” was placed in federal custody on Friday over suspicion of engaging in massive amounts of international fraud and money laundering.
With over 2 million followers on Instagram, Hush isn't exactly modest on the platform as he has made a name for himself in frequently flauting his wealth. His account is even verified and in his bio he has described himself as a 'Real Estate Developer.'
A Nigerian national who was until recently a resident of Dubai, 37-year-old Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, made an initial court appearance in Chicago and is expected to face the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles-based Central District of California in the weeks to come.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) press release announcing Abbas’s capture echoes the probable cause affidavit and criminal complaint in casting focus on the influencer’s extravagant lifestyle.
“[His] social media accounts frequently show him in designer clothes, wearing expensive watches, and posing in or with luxury cars and charter jets,” the affidavit signed by Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) Agent Andrew Innocenti notes.
“The FBI’s investigation has revealed that Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and that he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars," the document explains.
“BEC schemes are one of the most difficult cybercrimes we encounter as they typically involve a coordinated group of con artists scattered around the world who have experience with computer hacking and exploiting the international financial system,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in the press release.
According to federal investigators, Abbas and his alleged co-conspirators duped a law firm out of over $922,000 by way of a BEC scheme–and later attempted to launder nearly $400,000 of that alleged haul in the United States.
Additionally, Abbas and one of his alleged co-conspirators allegedly attempted to launder funds “intended to be stolen through fraudulent wire transfers from a foreign financial institution” that totaled sum $14.7 million.
While Abbas has yet to be formally charged, the complaint suggests several counts of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, at the very least, are likely in the works.
His Instagram page is still live, so have a look at his opulent lifestyle for yourself!
Do you think social media influencers should be more transparent with their followers regarding their lifestyles and income sources?
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