The troubles seem endless for Ramon “Hushpuppi” Abbas as the once extravagant Nigerian social media influencer is now accused of laundering money on behalf of North Korean hackers, the United States Department of Justice said.
The statement by the department coming at the end of last week said Abbas was involved in a “North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019”. This revelation is apart from the ongoing prosecution of Abbas in another set of charges for which he was arrested in July of 2020.
He has been accused of partnering with Canadian-America Ghaleb Alaumary, described by authorities as “a prolific money launderer”.
Alaumary proved useful over the years for “hackers engaged in ATM cash-out schemes, cyber-enabled bank heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes, and other online fraud schemes. [He] is also being prosecuted for his involvement in a separate BEC scheme by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia”.
The scam on which he and Abbas worked between August 2018 and October 2019 is thought to be in the region of $45 million. Alaumary has reached a plea deal with federal authorities where he has names Abbas and four others as accomplices.
In 2018, a report identified Hushpuppi as one of Africa‘s most prominent socialites whose source of wealth was unknown or suspected to be fraudulent. The 38-year-old was known for his ostentatious lifestyle and flaunting of his wealth and luxurious acquisitions on social media.
His most recent post on Instagram before he was arrested by Emirati intelligence in the United Arab Emirates was to apparently announce his acquisition of a 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan which held a starting price of around $330,000. He has over two million followers on the photo and video-sharing platform and claims to be a “Real Estate Developer”, a claim his lawyer defended in July last year.