Notorious Nigerian Cyber Fraudster Ramoni Igbalode Abbas AKA Hushpuppi Arrest in the UAE

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Hushpuppi, whose real name is Raymond Igbalode Abbas, was arrested by Dubai Police on June 10 and charged with obtaining money from others through fraudulent means.

Hushpuppi and 12 others were arrested by security officers in Dubai for online fraud that targets companies and individuals. “They would send out letters from email addresses almost identical to those of legitimate companies, targeting customers of these companies, with the purpose of diverting payments to themselves,” a senior prosecutor said.

The Dubai Police say they recovered $40m in cash, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8m, 21 computers, 47 smartphones and the addresses of nearly two million alleged victims during the arrest.

Abbas who is 38-year-old was also wanted for fraud crimes in Europe, US, and Nigeria. Law enforcement agencies in the United States of America and Nigerian detectives are seeking his extradition.

Nigeria’s Commissioner of Police (CP) INTERPOL, Garba Umar announced that they are working on bringing him to Nigeria to face charges of fraud. The US Federal Bureau of Investigations on the other hand accused Mr. Abbas of  allegedly hacking into the United States (US) unemployed database and impersonating citizens qualified for unemployment funds. It is also alleged that he and his accompliced defrauded the US of over $100 million meant for Native Americans in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

In an affidavit, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) states that “Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars,” the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) said in an affidavit.

On July 3, Mr. Abbas was extradited to the US where he had his initial court appearance and removal proceedings before Honourable Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert.  A continued removal and detention hearing was set for July 8 at 11:00 a.m. via telephone conference and he was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal

Hushpuppi remained detained at the Metropolitan Correction Centre in Chicago, to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming days.

Effect on Nigeria

Most Nigerian has welcomed the arrest of the fraudster and his accomplices, stating that they tarnish the reputation of the country and make it difficult for international companies to trust Nigerian businesses.

“A lot of foreign companies don’t ship to Nigeria, many payment platforms don’t accept payments from us because it has ruined our image.” says Ayo Bankole Akintujoye – founder of Nigeria-based Bootcamp, a start-up incubation initiative. He however accused the international press of placing attention on Nigeria alone

“A lot of Nigerians are doing fantastic things all over the world, but they don’t get as much media mileage as the guys doing bad things. It affects all the guys doing legitimate stuff especially in the tech space,” he said.

Six Nigerians among 79 individuals and organisations were blacklisted by The US Treasury Department in its Most Wanted cybercriminals list last month. They were accused of stealing more than $6m from American citizens through deceptive global threats like BEC and romance fraud

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