Hushpuppi’s sentencing is extended by a US court
Ramon Abass, also known as Hushpuppi, a popular Instagram individual from Nigeria, has admitted guilt to allegations of multi-million dollar fraud; however, the U.S. Central District Court in California has once more extended Hushpuppi‘s sentencing.
Hushpuppi was detained in the United States after being arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE), in June 2020. He later filed a plea of guilty and was told to wait in detention until his sentencing.
The new sentencing date is September 21, according to Judge Otis Wright.
According to a statement released by the court on June 24, “At the request of counsel, the Sentencing is CONTINUED to 9/21/2022 at 1:30 PM before Judge Otis D. Wright II, pertaining to Defendant Ramon Olorunwa Abbas.”
Judge Wright initially shifted the sentence hearing from February 14 to July 11; it has since been changed, at the counsel’s request, to September 21.
In July 2021, Mr. Abass consented to file a guilty plea to the multimillion-dollar fraud allegations that the US government had brought against him.
Since his arrest in Dubai and extradition to the United States in June 2020, he has been in detention.
After first claiming to be innocent, Mr. Abass changed his mind and, in July 2021, entered into a plea deal with the US authorities in the hopes of receiving a lesser sentence.
His plea deal with the U.S. government indicates in part that he admitted guilt to Count Two, “Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering,” which carries a potential penalty of 20 years in prison among other penalties, including full restitution.
Despite entering a guilty plea, Mr. Abass will still be required to make restitution.
“Defendant acknowledges that the victim(s) of the offense to which the defendant is pleading guilty will be entitled to receive full restitution from the defendant.
The plea agreement seen by PREMIUM TIMES in July 2021 stated that the defendant “agrees that, in exchange for the USAO’s compliance with its obligations under this agreement, the court may order restitution to persons other than the victim(s) of the offenses to which defendant is pleading guilty and in amounts greater than those alleged in the count to which defendant is pleading guilty.”
It is yet unclear what sentence Mr. Abass will receive. However, the prosecution stated that it advises “a two-level reduction in the appropriate Sentencing Guidelines offence level,” providing Mr. Abass “demonstrates an acknowledgment of responsibility for the offence up to and including the time of sentencing.”
The prosecution says it has the option to “argue for an additional one-level reduction if available under that clause” if necessary.
He will be deported because he is not an American citizen after serving his time in prison and paying the restitution.
The maximum punishment for the crime, which Mr. Abass hopes to have reduced at his sentencing, is “20 years’ imprisonment; a 3-year period of supervised release; a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest; and a mandatory special assessment of $100.”
The 38-year-old was detained in Dubai earlier in June 2020 by special agents, comprising Emirati police officers and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigators. The man was renowned for boasting about his lavish lifestyle on social media.
According to an affidavit the FBI provided to PREMIUM TIMES, its investigations showed that Mr. Abbas used the proceeds of crime to pay for his luxurious lifestyle.
Offence in Detail
In the agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California claims that Hushpuppi “knowingly combined, agreed, and conspired with multiple other persons (“co-conspirators”) to conduct financial transactions into, within, and outside the United States involving property that represented the proceeds of wire fraud” from no later than on or about January 18, 2019, through on or about June 9, 2020.
According to USAO, the co-conspirators preyed on numerous victims while laundering and/or attempting to launder money gained fraudulently through bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) frauds, and other fraud schemes.
A foreign financial institution (a bank in Malta), the victim’s law practice (based in New York State), and two businesses in the United Kingdom were allegedly the conspiracy’s targeted victims.
“These fraudulent schemes included bank cyber-heists, BEC schemes, and other fraud schemes,” according to Mr. Abass, who was alleged to have known about them.
Abba Kyari, a senior police officer in Nigeria, was later charged with aiding and abetting the murder. He is awaiting the court’s decision about the request for his extradition to the United States to face charges.
The target of the cyber-heist was a foreign financial institution (a bank in Malta), while the other victims mentioned above were the victims of BEC scams.
On May 12, 2019, Mr. Abass was alleged to have discussed with a co-conspirator how they anticipated fraudulent payments of about £6 million per week in several BEC operations involving victim companies in the UK.
According to the U.S. authorities, “once a victim deposited money into a bank account, the defendant would communicate with other co-conspirators to receive or relocate the money and then to further launder the money.”
Mr. Abass was reported to have admitted involvement in a scheme to defraud a victim company in Qatar that was building an international school (the Qatari Victim Company) as well as the owner of that company, in addition to admitting defendant’s involvement in the schemes intended to defraud the victims listed above.
Additionally, it was said that he started planning to deceive the owner of the Qatari company in December 2019 “who was seeking a lender to spend $15,000,000 in a proposal to create an international school.”
The victim had allegedly already been scammed of money by Mr. Abass’ alleged co-conspirator at the time the defendant entered the scheme.
It was claimed that the defendant started using the identity Malik fraudulently to contact the victim businessperson starting on or around December 11, 2019.
According to the prosecution, Huspuppi misled the victim by posing as Malik and promising to open a bank account in the United States into which the $15,000,000 loan could be first deposited.
The prosecution claimed that the defendant and Co-conspirator A were actually trying to scam the victim businessperson rather than help him or her get a loan.