‘Celebrity Influencer’ Pleads Guilty to Scamming $24 Million From Followers

‘Celebrity Influencer’ Pleads Guilty to Scamming $24 Million From Followers

Social media has paved the way for plenty of pitfalls and potholes filled with people’s lies pretending to live larger than they actually do in real life.

In fact, one curious case has landed “Celebrity influencer,” Nigerian National “Ray Hushpuppi,” in a world of trouble after he admitted to his role in money laundering in school financing scams and additional cyber and business email compromise schemes, according to the Department of Justice.

Born Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, “Ray Hushpuppi” was indicted on April 29 and it was unsealed on July 26, showing that he, along with five other defendants, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.

The criminal complaint that was started by the prosecution in February was also unsealed Monday.

The document revealed that Abbas, a 37-year-old Nigerian National, pleaded guilty back on April 20. Abbas’ plea agreement, which was filed late last Tuesday, outlines his role in the school-finance scheme, as well as several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that caused more than $24 million in losses to his fanbase.

“The defendants allegedly faked the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretense going after the victim was tipped off,” Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in a written statement.

“Mr. Abbas, who played a significant role in the scheme, funded his luxurious lifestyle by laundering illicit proceeds generated by con artists who use increasingly sophisticated means. In conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we will identify and prosecute perpetrators of business email compromise scams, which is a massive and growing international crime problem.”

“Mr. Abbas, among the most high-profile money launderers in the world, has admitted to his significant role in perpetrating global BEC fraud, a scheme currently plaguing Americans,” said Kristi K. Johnson, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

“His celebrity status and ability to make connections seeped into legitimate organizations and led to several spin-off schemes in the U.S. and abroad. Today’s announcement deals a crucial blow to this international network and hopefully serves as a warning to potential victims targeted with this type of theft.”

Both of the conspiracy counts in the indictment carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison term.