Instagram influencer Hushpuppi pleads guilty to money laundering

The lavish life of fast cars, designer clothes and private jets has come to an end for Nigerian Instagram influencer Ramon “Hushpuppi” Abbas, 37, after pleading guilty in California court to money laundering and other business email schemes that cost his victims nearly $ 24 million.

The plea, confirmed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, could sentence Abbas to jail of up to 20 years, according to court documents. Abbas will also have to “pay the full restitution to the victim (s),” the documents say.

In a statement, Kristi K. Johnson, deputy director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, described Abbas as one of the “world’s most prominent money launderers,” adding: “[Abbas’] celebrity status and the ability to make connections seeped into legitimate organizations and led to several spinoff projects in the United States and abroad. Today’s announcement deals a crucial blow to this international network and, hopefully, serves as a warning to potential victims targeted by this type of theft.

Abbas and his accomplices have been accused of attempting to “steal more than $ 1.1 million from a businessman trying to finance the construction of a children’s school in Qatar – and subsequent laundering of illicit proceeds via bank accounts all over the world “. Unsealed court documents ordered on Wednesday show Abbas pleaded guilty on April 20.

Acting United States lawyer Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement: “The defendants allegedly tampered with the funding of a Qatari school by playing the role of bank officials and creating a bogus website in the part of a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the pretext elaborated. go after the victim was notified, “adding,” Mr. Abbas, who played a significant role in the scheme, funded his luxurious lifestyle by laundering the illicit proceeds generated by crooks. “

Gucci master guilty

Ramon Abbas is a Nigerian influencer with over 2.5 million Instagram followers. Known to his fans as “Hushpuppi,” Abbas has built a global following by posting photos of his lavish spending on cars, watches, designer clothes and private jets.

In July, Mr Abbas’ former legal representative, Gal Pissetzky of Pissetzky & Berliner, said Forbes that his client is “absolutely not guilty of [the] charges of which they accuse him ”, adding:“[Abbas] ran a legitimate business and a very legitimate Instagram account and was not involved in any scams or scams. When asked how Abbas paid for his lifestyle, Pissetzky said Forbes, “He’s an entrepreneur. He is involved in real estate. . . [he’s] an Instagram personality. He was promoting brands and that’s how he made his money very legitimately. After a year of waiting in a US prison, Abbas pleaded guilty.

Abbas was detained by authorities in Dubai in June 2020. Documents released Wednesday show that between January 18, 2019 and June 9, 2020, Abbas and his co-conspirators targeted multiple victims and laundered funds fraudulently obtained through bank cyber burglaries (authorizing and inducing fraudulent wire transfers via SWIFT ), and attempts to trick victims into making an unauthorized bank transfer via email.

Abbas pleaded guilty to inflicting losses amounting to $ 14.7 million on a bank in Malta, and $ 7.7 million in losses for so-called ‘corporate victims’ in a separate case relating to an anonymous Premier League club. Two other loss amounts – one for an anonymous law firm, the other for a Qatari businessman – total less than $ 1 million each.

While these sums are not representative of Abbas’ career earnings, it is highly likely that the self-proclaimed “Gucci Master Billionaire” was never in fact a billionaire. (Forbes does not currently include Abbas on our list of the world’s billionaires, nor has Forbes never listed Abbas as a billionaire.)

Abbas’s lawyer made no comment.

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