By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch
His most recent Instagram post included a picture of a Rolls-Royce with the caption: “[T]hank you lord for the many blessings in my life” followed by some praying-hands emojis and “continue to shame those waiting for me to be shamed.”
Well, those waiting to shame Ramon Abbas need not wait any longer. Abbas, who goes by “Hushpuppi,” has long flaunted his wealth to his 2.5 million Instagram followers. Helicopters, Gucci, Fendi and fancy cars — it’s all part of his social-media persona.
Apparently, this kind of stuff resonates:
It turns out that lavish lifestyle wasn’t the result of his savvy as a real-estate developer, as his self-billing claims. No, according to CNN , a federal affidavit alleges that his riches were financed by hacking major companies across the U.S. and Europe.
Abbas, a Nigerian national, was arrested in his luxe Dubai residence last month and flown to Chicago on July 2, where he awaits transfer to Los Angeles. There he is to face accusations of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through cybercrime schemes, CNN reported.
Along with multiple alleged co-conspirators, Abbas allegedly used computer intrusions, business email compromise schemes and money laundering to steal hundreds of millions of dollars. Snap Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205087158/composite SNAP +0.11% , Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -0.18% unit Instagram and Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +2.02% reportedly helped the FBI make connections among chat histories, phone contacts and email addresses.
CNN explained that this birthday post, for instance, helped authorities track him down, with federal law enforcement reportedly using it to verify his date of birth on a previous visa application:
Investigators reportedly seized during its arrest of Abbas and 11 others some $41 million along with 13 luxury cars worth almost $7 million. The investigation reportedly uncovered the email addresses of nearly 2 million possible victims.
The alleged cybercrime victims include a paralegal at a New York law firm said to have wired about $923,000 meant for a client’s real-estate refinancing to a bank account controlled by Abbas and his co-conspirators. The wire instructions were fraudulent, and the bank’s email address was “spoofed.”
Abbas is also accused of trying to steal $124 million from an unnamed English Premier League soccer club, though CNN reported that it’s unknown whether he was successful.
If convicted of money laundering, he would face up to 20 years in prison.