BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - INTERNATIONAL fraudster Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for defrauding a number of people in the United States.
Hushpuppie is currently under investigation in St. Kitts and Nevis for his connection to an alleged scheme that saw him obtaining the Federation’s citizenship through marriage.
It is alleged that he paid $50,000 to obtained his passport through marriage and it is being probed by lawmen.
A statement from the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of California said that United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II ordered Abbas to pay $1,732,841 in restitution to two fraud victims.
Described as “a prolific international fraudster” who conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars through a series of online scams and flaunted his luxurious, crime-funded lifestyle on social media, Abbas was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison.
“Abbas bragged on social media about his lavish lifestyle – a lifestyle funded by his involvement in transnational fraud and money laundering conspiracies targeting victims around the world. Money laundering and business email compromise scams are a massive international crime problem, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement and international partners to identify and prosecute those involved, wherever they may be,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada.
Hushpuppi shot to fame after he began flaunting his ill-gotten gains across social media platforms where he acquired “by conducting business email compromise scams, online bank heists and other cyber-enabled fraud that financially ruined scores of victims and provided assistance to the North Korean regime”.
Abbas was accused of conspiring with Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a convicted money launderer, to launder funds derived from various crimes, including bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes, loan schemes and other online frauds, the statement said.
Over the span of a decade, Abbas and his co-conspirators sought to defraud banks, football teams, and law firms in the tune of more that US$40 million
“At today’s [yesterday] sentencing hearing, Judge Wright ordered Abbas to pay $922,857 in restitution to the law firm victim and $809,983 in restitution to the businessperson in Qatar.
“Abbas and another conspirator duped the victim businessperson into paying approximately $330,000 to fund an ‘investor’s account’ to facilitate the loan. Abbas specifically directed the victim to send $100,000 to a bank account controlled by a co-conspirator, and $230,000 to the bank account of a luxury watch seller. Abbas used those funds for his personal benefit, including purchasing a $230,000 Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which he arranged to have brought to him from New York to Dubai. The watch made numerous appearances on Abbas’ wrist on his now-defunct Instagram account, often with the hashtag #RichardMille,” the statement read.
In a bid to continue with his scheme, the US District Attorney noted that in January and February 2020, Abbas and another conspirator corresponded with the victim businessperson, attempting to fraudulently induce a further payment of $575,000 in purported taxes to release the $15 million loan. In February 2020, the victim sent approximately $299,983 to Kenyan bank accounts specified by another conspirator. In March 2020, Abbas fraudulently induced the victim to send another $180,000 to U.S.-based bank accounts; those funds were subsequently laundered with assistance from several co-conspirators.
“By his own admission, during just an 18-month period [the] defendant conspired to launder over $300 million,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “While much of this intended loss did not ultimately materialize, [Abbas’] willingness and ability to participate in large-scale money laundering highlights the seriousness of his criminal conduct.
“The FBI investigated this matter as part of Operation Top Dog. The FBI thanks the government of the United Arab Emirates and the Dubai Police Department for their substantial assistance in this matter."
Attorney General Garth Wilkins took note of the sentencing and issued a statement this morning.