Dubai Police have revealed details of the arrest of Hushpuppi, Nigerian Instagram celebrity accused of online fraud and money laundering, recovering $40.9m in cash, and more than a dozen luxury cars.
In a video shared by the police, officers explained how they arrested Nigerian gang leader Raymond Abbas, better known as Hushpuppi.
Hushpuppi’s principal scam was to create websites that looked identical to well-known companies and banks, it is alleged.
He and his accomplices then used emails and messages to prompt people to log in or make payments on the fake sites.
.@DubaiPoliceHQ take down "Hushpuppi", "Woodberry", ten international cybercriminals in a special operation dubbed "Fox Hunt 2" pic.twitter.com/SGwhxDWrE8
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) June 25, 2020
According to reports, the gang hacked corporate emails and directed huge payments by companies towards accounts they controlled.
Olalekan Jacob Ponle, known as Woodberry, was also arrested along with ten other men in an operation involving six police SWAT teams.
Along with 13 luxury cars, valued at an estimated $6.8m, police confiscated 21 computers and 47 smartphones.
The gang had 119,580 “fraud files” as well as addresses of more than 1.92 million victims.
Hushpuppi posed as a real estate investor and businessman, with more than two million followers on Instagram.
Posts on his account suggest a lavish lifestyle, with images showing him taking trips on a private jet, wearing Louis Vuitton tracksuits and a $150,000 (Dh550,900) Richard Mille watch and posing outside the Four Seasons hotel in Paris.
A video of a wedding in Dubai attended by Nigerian celebrities, an event that made headlines in his home country, showed Mr Abbas dancing as he threw $100 notes into the air.
Dubai Police CID chief Brig Jamal Al Jalaf said Mr Abbas posed as a successful businessman “celebrating his wealth via social media platforms, in an attempt to lure victims from all over the world”.
A senior prosecutor told The National: “They would send out letters from email addresses almost identical to those of legitimate companies, targeting customers of these companies, with the purpose of diverting payments to themselves.
“Initial information includes that he was part of this gang which fraudulently obtained cash and cars from people.
“His statement was taken by prosecution but this is just the beginning of prosecution investigations.”
Abbas was wanted for fraud in Europe, the US and Nigeria.
Abbas was extradited to the US state of Pennsylvania this week.
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