An Instagram influencer who tried to steal £100m from a Premier League football club has been jailed.
Ramon Abbas - known online as Ray Hushpuppi - flaunted a lavish lifestyle on social media, fuelled by international fraud.
The Nigerian was labelled 'one of the most prolific money launderers in the world' by Don Alway, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, and he was sentenced to more than 11 years in a US prison.
According to Sky News, prosecutors said he tried to steal £100m ($115m) from an unidentified Premier League club in May 2019.
In the same year, he helped launder £12.8m ($14.7m) stolen by North Korean hackers from a bank in Malta, funnelling the money through banks in Romania and Bulgaria.
He also got a New York-based law firm to transfer nearly £806,000 ($930,000) to a criminal account and acknowledged in a plea agreement that he helped defraud someone in Qatar who sought a £13m ($15m) loan to build a school, federal prosecutors said.
The influencer had 2.8 million followers on Instagram, where he showed off his wealth and shared a selection of 'flexing' videos.
His social media posts showed him living a life of luxury, complete with private jets, ultra-expensive cars and high-end clothes and watches.
"I hope some day I will be inspiring more young people to join me on this path," read one Instagram post by Abbas.
But this life came to an end when he was arrested in June 2020 in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
Alway said: "Abbas leveraged his social media platforms – where he amassed a considerable following – to gain notoriety and to brag about the immense wealth he acquired by conducting business email compromise scams, online bank heists and other cyber-enabled fraud that financially ruined scores of victims and provided assistance to the North Korean regime."
On Monday (7 November), Abbas was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay $922,857 (£800,347) in compensation to the law firm and $809,983 dollars (£706,000) to the victim in Qatar.
"By his own admission, during just an 18-month period defendant conspired to launder over $300 million (£262m)," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum, although they said much of the intended loss 'did not ultimately materialise'.
Prosecutors said Abbas and a Canadian man laundered money from various online crimes including bank cyber heists and business email compromise (BEC) - a prolific crime in which criminals hack into email accounts, pretend to be someone they are not and fool victims into wiring money where it does not belong.
Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga in Ontario, Canada, was charged separately.
He pleaded guilty in 2020 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, prosecutors said.
He was sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison and was ordered to pay more than $30m (£26.2m) in restitution.
Featured Image Credit: US Department of Justice
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