Ramon Abbas, 40, also was sentenced by a federal judge to pay $1.7 million in restitution to two fraud victims, according to the U.S. Ministry of Justice
A Nigerian social media celebrity who went by the name Ray Hushpuppi and flaunted a luxury lifestyle funded by his efforts to launder millions of dollars in stolen funds was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison on Monday in Los Angeles.
Ramon Abbas, 40, also was sentenced by a federal judge to pay $1.7 million in compensation to two fraud victims, according to a statement from the U.S. Ministry of Justice
Abbas was “one of the most prolific money launderers in the world,” according to Don Alway, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
Prosecutors said Abbas and a Canadian man laundered money from various online crimes including bank cyberheists and business email compromise, or BEC, a prolific crime in which crooks hack into email accounts, pretend to be someone they’re not and fool victims into wiring money where it doesn’t belong.
Prosecutors allege that in 2019, he helped launder around $14.7 million stolen by North Korean hackers from a bank in Malta through banks in Romania and Bulgaria.
Federal prosecutors say he also helped launder millions of pounds stolen from a British company and a professional soccer club in the United Kingdom, convinced a New York law firm to transfer nearly $923,000 to a criminal account, and admitted in a plea agreement that he helped defraud a Qatari seeking a $15 million loan to build a school.
Abbas was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $922,857 in restitution to the law firm and $809,988 to the victim in Qatar during his sentencing on Monday.
“By his own admission, defendant conspired to launder more than $300 million over the course of just 18 months,” prosecutors stated in a sentencing memorandum, but they noted that a significant portion of the anticipated loss “did not materialize.”
Abbas had over 2 million Instagram followers under the alias “Ray Hushpuppi” prior to his arrest in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2020.
His social media images depicted a lavish lifestyle, complete with private aircraft, fancy automobiles, and expensive clothing and accessories.
Abbas, who pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to participate in money laundering in April 2021, stated in an Instagram post, “I hope that one day I can inspire many young people to follow me on this path.”
Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, was separately charged. According to prosecutors, he pleaded guilty in 2020 to one count of conspiracy to participate in money laundering. He was sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison and ordered to make restitution of more than $30 million.