Nigerian fraudster Hushpuppi removed from Instagram ahead of sentencing

The high-profile social media celebrity admitted money laundering last year and could face up to 20 years in prison

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A Nigerian influencer known as Hushpuppi who was arrested in Dubai for financial crimes costing tens of millions of dollars is scheduled to be sentenced by a California court on Monday.

Ramon Abbas could face up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to money laundering in July 2021.

He was extradited to the US in July 2020, a month after a highly publicised arrest at his luxury apartment at a five-star hotel in Dubai.

Court documents said Abbas's crimes cost victims almost $24 million. Prosecutors alleged he was responsible for scams worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In one scheme, he tried to steal more than $1.1m from someone who wanted to fund a new children's school in Qatar.

Court records unsealed in July last year showed he pleaded guilty to this charge on April 20, 2021.

US authorities said Abbas and his accomplices posed as bank officials and created a bogus website to fake the financing of the school.

The gang also bribed a foreign official to keep the charade going after the victim learnt what was happening.

Instagram account deactivated

Hushpuppi's Instagram account — which he used as a platform to display his lavish lifestyle to his 2.8 million followers — appears to have been deactivated.

When searching for the account, The National was directed to an Instagram document saying the page was not available and that it “may have been removed”.

The account featured images of Abbas's ostentatious lifestyle, including stepping out of a helicopter at Dubai's Atlantis The Palm resort and collecting a new Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

Kristi Johnson, acting director of the FBI's Los Angeles office, told BBC News that Abbas was one of the “most high-profile money launderers in the world”, who acted in the open rather than the shadows.

Almost $41m in cash and 13 cars valued at about $6.8m were seized, as were phone and computer evidence containing more than 100,000 fraudulent files.

In addition, the email addresses of nearly two million possible victims were found, Dubai Police said at the time.

Instagram was contacted for comment.

Updated: November 01, 2022, 12:33 PM
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