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Hushpuppi charged for Money laundering in US court, risks 20 years jail term

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Hushpuppi, an Internet celebrity, was charged with conspiracy to launder money in a United States court, for which he could have received a maximum prison term of 20 years if convicted.

The authorities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) previously shared footage of how Hushpuppi was arrested during a special operation called “Fox Hunt 2” due to a cyber fraud involving 1.9 million victims worth N168 billion dollars.

The self-proclaimed powerful man was arrested on June 10 along with 11 of his associates after allegedly committing crimes including money laundering, hacking, impersonation, fraud, Bank fraud and identity theft.

After his extradition to the United States, the us Department of justice, in a publication on its website, disclosed details of his first court appearance, during which he was charged with money laundering.

It is understood that the alleged fraudster faces criminal charges bordering on conspiracy to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise(BEC) fraud and other scams.

Among them are schemes in which he and his friends allegedly harassed a law firm in the United States, a foreign financial institution and an English Premier League football club.

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According to an affidavit filed with the complaint during a court hearing on Friday, Hushpuppi, whose real name is Raymond Abass, is also one of the leaders of a transnational criminal network.

“An FBI investigation has revealed that Abbas funds this lavish lifestyle through crime and that he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that promotes computer intrusions,” it said.

“…fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes) and money laundering targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.”

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The affidavit described BEC schemes involving a computer hacker gaining unauthorized access to a company’s email, blocking or redirecting messages to and/or from that email account.

He said he uses a compromised email account or a separate fraudulent account to contact the victim’s company staff, tricking them into making an unauthorized Bank transfer.

In a Scam involving a new York law firm, Hushpuppi and his team allegedly undertook a scheme that defrauded a client of approximately $ 922,857 in October 2019.

He also alleged that he participated in a conspiracy to launder funds stolen in a $ 14.7 million cyber attack from a foreign financial institution in February 2019, sending the loot to Bank accounts around the world.

The affidavit also alleged that they conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other intrusions, including one scheme to steal 100 million pounds from an English Premier League soccer club.

As for the Hushpuppi case, Nick Hanna, the United States attorney, described the BEC schemes as one of the most complex cyber crimes faced by the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI).

“They usually involve a coordinated group of scammers scattered around the world who have experience hacking computers and exploiting the International financial system, ” he said.

“This case targets a key player in a transnational conspiracy who led a lavish lifestyle in another country, allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world.”

Also Read: Fraud: How Nigerian Law School paid N32m for cleaner in 12 months

Paul Delacourt, assistant Director of the FBI field office in Los Angeles, compared the Hishpuppi case to one that cost American victims, including individuals and firms, $ 1.7 billion in losses back in 2017.

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“This arrest was effectively used by a large allegedly pot player offline. Back fraud is the most financially costly type of scheme reported to the FBI, ” the Director explained.

“I encourage anyone who transfers funds personally or on behalf of the company to train themselves with BEC so that they can identify this insidious scheme before losing significant amounts of money.”

Global Gist Nigeria

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