Instagram allows fraudster Hushpuppi to keep social media account

Ramon Abbas used the site to post photos of his luxury lifestyle before his arrest in Dubai

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An investigation by Instagram declared the multi-million-dollar fraudster known as Hushpuppi free to continue using his social media account, despite his arrest in Dubai and probable 20-year jail term.

Nigerian social media influencer Ramon Abbas lived a life of luxury in Dubai thanks to a multi-million dollar money laundering empire, yet his crimes do not violate social media laws.

Instagram told The National it had well-established processes with law enforcement and a policy on “inmate takedown requests” in place for prisoners active on social media.

Abbas has not posted on Instagram to his 2.5 million followers since June 2020.

But the company’s global team said he would be free to continue to use the site unless directed otherwise from law enforcement in the US, where he is awaiting sentencing.

Abbas does not fall under the categories which would validate account removal.

Instagram said accounts are only usually closed if they represent dangerous organisations or individuals.

Despite pleading guilty to his crimes as revealed in court documents from April 2021, Abbas is yet to be imprisoned, so his account does not breach Instagram policies or community standards.

The 37-year-old swindler pleaded guilty to crimes that netted profits of some $24 million from his victims and was arrested in a high-profile swoop by police at his luxury hotel apartment at the Palazzo Versace on Dubai Creek in 2020.

In one of his scams, he attempted to steal more than $1.1 million from a wealthy benefactor who wanted to fund a children’s school in Qatar.

Despite his crimes, Abbas remains free to post snippets of his new life behind bars from his Instagram account should he have access to a mobile device or computer.

Abbas used Instagram to show his largesse, sharing photos of extravagant shopping trips, luxury cars, clothes and watches.

While his dress sense may not have been to all tastes - posting images of matching Hawaiian shirts and shorts, and a purple Rolls Royce - they were clear signs of the proceeds of his crimes.

One post included a custom made Richard Mille watch worth $150,000.

An international police investigation uncovered almost $41 million in cash and 13 cars valued at about $6.8 million.

Further evidence in phone and computer records contained more than 100,000 fraudulent files and the email addresses of nearly two million possible victims.

Abbas owned a fleet of luxury cars, including a Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maybach.

Facebook uses both human reviewers and sophisticated technology across all of its apps to detect, remove and prevent the promotion of misinformation.

Inmate accounts are disabled when a prison provides Facebook with legal authority banning a prisoner’s access to social media or the internet, or if the prison submits facts suggesting there is a real-world safety risk.

Updated: September 19, 2021, 5:26 AM