Ramon Abbas, commonly known as Hushpuppi, Hush, or Ray Hushpuppi (born October 11, 1982) is a Nigerian man who is facing criminal charges in the United States for conspiracy to launder money obtained from business email compromise frauds and other scams, including schemes that defrauded a US law firm of about $40 million, illegally transferred $14.7 million from a foreign financial institution, and targeted to steal $124 million from an English football club until his arrest by the Dubai Police in June 2020 and his extradition to the United States.
Abbas posted pictures and videos of his lavish spending on exotic cars, watches, designer clothes, bags from expensive brands like Gucci, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton and of himself boarding helicopters, with celebrities, footballers, and Nigerian politicians or while on charter jets. He claimed to be a real estate developer. He also holds a passport from St Kitts and Nevis. He was referred to as an Instagram celebrity at some point.
On the night his apartment at the Palazzo Versace was raided in an operation code-named Fox Hunt 2, Abbas was arrested alongside eleven others in six simultaneous raids, detectives seized more than 150 million dirham (about $40 million) in cash, 13 luxury cars worth Dh 25 million ($7M), 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 memory storage devices, 5 external hard drives and 800,000 emails of potential victims alongside suitcases full of cash. The arrest was part of an FBI investigation that indicted him as being a ‘key player’ in a transnational cybercrime network that provided “safe havens for stolen money around the world.”
Many news platforms have reported that Abbas was once a second-hand clothes seller in Lagos. Abbas prided himself on his humble beginnings. Hushpuppi’s close associate, Mompha once revealed that his dad is still a cab driver in Lagos.
Citing interviews with old neighbours of Abbas, TheCable.ng reported that Abbas had a reputation as a ‘Yahoo boy’ a local name for a cybercriminal, was not supported by his mother, had not lifted any of his old friends from poverty, and had ignored multiple warnings regarding his lifestyle.
He is the subject of a 2017 song ‘Telli Person’ by Nigerian singer Timaya featuring Olamide and Phyno, with whom he had a long-running feud. The song contained lyrics directed toward Abbas indirectly accusing him of being a swindler and lavishing his money on designer clothes instead of investing in profitable ventures and warning him that he would soon be caught by authorities. Many viewed the song as a prophetic warning that was fulfilled with his arrest.
Upon his arrival in the United States on July 3 2020 he was accused of conspiring to launder ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’.
The affidavit also accused Abbas and a co-conspirator of conspiring to launder funds intended to be stolen through fraudulent wire transfers from a ‘foreign financial institution’ in which fraudulent wire transfers, totalling approximately US$14.7 million, were sent to bank accounts around the world in February 2019. Though the affidavit did not name any bank, according to Forbes, the date of the attack and amount mentioned in the affidavit matched that of the attack on Malta’s Bank of Valletta in February 2019. In February 2019, $14.7 million was transferred out of the bank through false international transactions to accounts in the United States, the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, and Hong Kong. The attack was of such seriousness in Malta that then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was forced to address parliament. Multiple sources in Malta including Times of Malta and Malta Today also repeated Forbes’s claims that Hushpuppi could have been behind the attack. According to the affidavit Abbas had provided a co-conspirator with two bank accounts in Europe anticipating the receipt of $5.6 million each of the fraudulently obtained funds. U.S. authorities also accused him of aiding North Korean hackers in money laundering.
According to the affidavit other communications between Abbas and one of his co-conspirators indicated that the two had conspired to “launder tens, and at times hundreds, of millions of dollars that were proceeds of other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including a fraudulent scheme to steal £100 million ($124 million) from an English Premier League football club.
Abbas is also accused of committing fraud in Nigeria as he is also wanted by Nigeria’s financial crime police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
A request for his bail and the chance to stay with his girlfriend’s uncle in Homewood, Illinois, was denied on the grounds that presented a risk of non-appearance. At Abbas’ detention hearing, his lawyer, Pissetzky told the court that his client posed no flight risk because of the damage it would do to his credibility online, adding, “He is loved and respected. He is a celebrity. He would not want to ruin his credibility and status rather than stay here and face these allegations.” Prosecutors cited his “significant” financial assets, “deep ties to foreign countries” and a lack of ties to the United States. If convicted of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Abbas would face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison, perhaps even 20 years, after which he will be deported to his home country Nigeria.
An article in Bloomberg Business week details his actions leading to his arrest, incarceration, and a trial on July 27, 2021, in Los Angeles. “Authorities say, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, perfected a simple internet scam and laundered millions of dollars. His past says a lot about digital swagger and the kinds of stories that get told online.”
On 28th July 2021, Hushpuppi pleaded guilty to money laundering and also pointed a Deputy Commissioner of Police in Nigeria, Abba Kyari, as an accomplice in his $1.1 million scam deal. The following day, a US Court granted FBI warrant to arrest Abba Kyari. The Police chief was further implicated after his conversation with Hushpuppi was released.
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas
October 11, 1982
||Hushpuppi, Hush, Ray Hushpuppi, The Billionaire Gucci Blaiso
||Alleged business email compromise, scam, and money laundering
In the media
A documentary about the life of Abbas till his arrest has been released by both Bloomberg and BBC Africa.
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