How Hushpuppi plotted to steal $124m from Premiership club — US govt
•Laundered stolen $14.7m in Feb 2019 •Committed $922,857 fraud in Oct 2019 •Docked on Friday in Chicago
ARRESTED fraudster, Ramoni Olorunwa Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, on Friday, appeared in a United States court to face criminal charges, including plotting to defraud an English Premier League club to the tune of $124 million, the US Justice Department announced.
He was alleged to have conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a US law firm, a foreign bank and the English Premier League soccer club.
Abbas, 37, a Nigerian national, arrived in Chicago on Thursday evening after being expelled from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Abbas (Hushpuppi ) made his initial US court appearance on Friday morning in Chicago and he is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks.
Abbas was arrested last month by UAE law enforcement officials. FBI special agents earlier this week obtained custody of Abbas and brought him to the United States to face a charge of conspiring to engage in money laundering that is alleged in a criminal complaint filed on June 25 by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, Abbas (Hushpuppi ) maintains social media accounts that frequently showed him in designer clothes, wearing expensive watches, and posing in or with luxury cars and charter jets.
“The FBI’s investigation has revealed that Abbas (Hushpuppi ) finances this opulent lifestyle through crime and that 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,” according to the affidavit.
The affidavit describes BEC schemes as often involving a computer hacker gaining unauthorized access to a business’ email account, blocking or redirecting communications to and/or from that email account.
The affidavit alleges that Abbas and others committed a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019.
Abbas (Hushpuppi ) and co-conspirators allegedly tricked one of the law firm’s paralegals into wiring money intended for the client’s real estate refinancing to a bank account that was controlled by Abbas and the co-conspirators.
The affidavit also alleges that Abbas (Hushpuppi ) conspired to launder funds stolen in a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution in February 2019, in which the stolen money was sent to bank accounts around the world. Abbas allegedly provided a co-conspirator with two bank accounts in Europe that Abbas anticipated each would receive €5 million (about $5.6 million) of the fraudulently obtained funds.
Hushpuppi was said to have then used the compromised email account or a separate fraudulent email account to communicate with personnel from a victim company and to attempt to trick them into making an unauthorized wire transfer.
“BEC schemes are one of the most difficult cybercrimes we encounter as they typically involve a coordinated group of con artists scattered around the world who have experience with computer hacking and exploiting the international financial system,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.
“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.”
“In 2019 alone, the FBI recorded $1.7 billion in losses by companies and individuals victimized through business email compromise scams, the type of scheme Mr Abbas is charged with conducting from abroad,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
Abbas and others further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million (approximately $124 million) from an English Premier League soccer club, the complaint alleges.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.
Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Abbas (Hushpuppi ) would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
“While this arrest has effectively taken a major alleged BEC player offline, BEC scams represent the most financially costly type of scheme reported to the FBI. I urge anyone who transfers funds personally or on behalf of a company to educate themselves about BEC so they can identify this insidious scheme before losing sizable amounts of money.”
“This was a challenging case, one that spanned international boundaries, traditional financial systems and the digital sphere,” said Jesse Baker, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Los Angeles Field Office.
“Technology has essentially erased geographic boundaries leaving trans-national criminal syndicates to believe that they are beyond the reach of law enforcement.
The success, in this case, was the direct result of our trusted partnerships between the Department of Justice and our federal law enforcement colleagues.
“These partnerships helped dismantle a sophisticated organized crime group who preyed upon unsuspecting businesses. It is thanks to these partnerships that the American people can feel a bit more secure today.”
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
Court Threatens To Revoke Shehu Sani’s Bail
The Federal High Court, Abuja, Monday, said it would revoke the bail granted Senator Shehu Sani if he fails to appear in court on the next adjourned date for the trial of the two-count criminal charges preferred against him by the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission… Read Full Story
Buhari Appoints New Chief Personal Security Officer
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Aliyu Abubakar Musa, as his Chief Personal Security Officer (CPSO). He replaces Commissioner of Police (CP) Abdulkarim Dauda, who was recently redeployed… Read Full Story
APC: Buni-Led Caretaker Committee Promises True Reconciliation
As part of measure to make progress on its mandate in reconciling all factions in the ruling All Progressives Congress, the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led committee has promised to embark on genuine reconciliation of all party leaders and members ahead of the planned convention… Read Full Story
NITDA Can Finance Nigeria’s Annual Budget ―Reps Public Account
The House of Representatives says the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has the wherewithal to finance the country’s annual budget if given the necessary environment… Read Full Story
No Fee Is Charged For NIS Recruitment ― CG
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has warned applicants against patronising fake recruitment sites as no fee was charged for NIS recruitment. The Comptroller General, NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, gave the warning in a statement by the Service Public Relations Officer (SPEO), Mr Sunday James… Read Full Story
Inside Ibadan Slums Where Water Scarcity, Open Defecation Thwart Efforts At Ending COVID-19 Pandemic
Ibadan, Nigeria’s third most populous city, wears rusted zinc-roof like a royal hat. Weak bricks, cracked and patchy walls are strewn all about the outskirts of the city. The waft of open sewage soaks the air… Read Full Story
Buhari To Perform Virtual Flag-Off Of Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Tuesday
President Muhammadu Buhari will on Tuesday, conduct a virtual flag-off of the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline construction project, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said… Read Full Story
Whistleblower Allegation Of $1bn In Unity Bank Account False ― NPA
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has refuted claims that it has an account containing $1bn in Unity Bank Plc. In a statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications of the NPA, Jatto Adams, the agency said that the account number being peddled in public glare by the whistleblower… Read Full Story
COVID-19: Over 2 Million Transport Workers In Critical Condition —Wabba
The President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has cried out that over two million of the congress affiliate members in the road transport sector are worst hit by the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown; and are in critical condition, dying in silence… Read Full Story
EDITORIAL: The Demolition Of Nigeria’s High Commission In Ghana
A Ghanaian citizen recently attacked the Nigerian High Commission in the country, demolishing a part of it. Expectedly, the action caused ripples in the diplomatic circles, with some observers wondering what such an action portended for the relationship between Nigeria and Ghana, which was until then presumably chummy… Read Full Story
Ending The Cable Tv Profiteering
It was like a movie, watching the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Committee set up by the House of Representatives, to probe the hike of subscription rates by cable television service providers. The Chairman of the said Committee, Hon Unyime Idem, took me back to my Aluta days at Obafemi Awolowo University… Read Full Story