How the FBI used Instagram to track down a notorious Nigerian conman in Dubai
Last month, the Dubai Police Force arrested twelve alleged Nigerian scammers living in the United Arab Emirates as part of their now-viral special operation dubbed “Fox Hunt 2.”
Six raids were conducted concurrently while the suspects were asleep; among several items, Dubai police reportedly seized more than $40 million in cash and hard disks containing the addresses of nearly two million victims.
One of the fraudsters was Ramon Olorunwa Abbas aka “Hushpuppi,” a social media celebrity known for flaunting his opulent lifestyle to over two million Instagram followers with posts of him in luxury cars, private jets, and designer clothes, globe-trotting to fashion shows and dining with celebrities, soccer stars and Nigerian politicians.
The arrest was part of a United States’ FBI investigation that unveiled Abbas as one of the kingpins of a transnational cybercrime network specializing in Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams, a fast-growing form of cyber-fraud that involves hacking corporate emails and sending fake messages to clients in order to redirect financial transfers and steal bank details.
Snap Inc., Instagram and Apple provided records for the investigation that helped the FBI to make connections between chat histories, phone contacts and email addresses, which allowed investigators to confirm Abbas’s correspondences and his Dubai residence at the Palazzo Versace.
According to the FBI, Abbas was a “key player” in a large conspiracy that purportedly provided “safe havens for stolen money around the world.”
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