Instagram star flaunted lavish lifestyle but was actually conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars, US prosecutors say
(CNN) -- A Nigerian man nicknamed "Ray Hushpuppi" who flaunted his Rolls Royces, fancy watches and designer clothing on Instagram faces money laundering conspiracy charges in the United States, according to the Department of Justice.
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas appeared in a federal court in Chicago on Friday. He is accused of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through cybercrime schemes.
According to a federal affidavit, one of the alleged victims was the client of a New York-based law firm that lost nearly a million dollars in 2019.
Abbas was arrested last month by law enforcement officials in the United Arab Emirates and transferred to the US this week by the FBI.
Prosecutors allege Abbas is one of the leaders of a global network that uses computer intrusions, business email compromise (BEC) schemes and money laundering capers to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.
A BEC scheme often involves a hacker who redirects communications of a business email account to others in an attempt to lure them into making a wire transfer.
"This case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle in another country while allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world. As this case demonstrates, my office will continue to hold such criminals accountable, no matter where they live," US Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement.
It is unclear whether Abbas has an attorney.
The Department of Justice says the Hushpuppi Instagram account, which boasts 2.4 million followers, shows Abbas inside or in front of jets, shopping luxury brands, posing in front of Rolls Royces, a Ferrari and other expensive cars.
In the bio, Hushpuppi says he is a real estate developer.
According to the Dubai Police Facebook page, Abbas and 11 other people were arrested during raids in which authorities seized nearly $41 million, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8 million and phone and computer evidence containing more than 100,000 fraud files and the addresses of nearly 2 million possible victims.
Conspirators went after English soccer team, feds say
A criminal complaint filed last month alleges that Abbas and an unnamed person conspired to launder funds from a $14.7 million heist of a foreign financial institution in 2019.
Abbas also is accused of conspiring to be part of an attempt to steal $124 million from an English Premier League soccer club. The complaint does not say which team was targeted or if the attempt was successful.
Authorities said he was part of a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of about $922,857 in October 2019.
The FBI says in the criminal complaint that Abbas and others tricked a paralegal at the law firm into wiring the money meant for a real estate refinance into an account that Abbas and his co-conspirators were using.
Abbas, 37, is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago, the Federal Bureau of Prisons website says. He will be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks, according the Justice Department.
If convicted of money laundering, he would face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
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