The US government has gained custody of a Nigerian man who is accused of participating in a massive fraud and money laundering operation. The defendant, Ray “Hushpuppi” Abbas, has amassed 2.4 million followers on Instagram, where he flaunts his access to luxury cars, designer clothing, and private jets. The feds say that he gained this wealth by defrauding banks, law firms, and other businesses out of millions of dollars. He was arrested last month by authorities in the United Arab Emirates, where he had been living.
The FBI’s criminal complaint details how the government obtained a wealth of information tying Abbas to his alleged crimes. Abbas was an avid user of American technology platforms, including Instagram, Gmail, iCloud, and Snapchat. Accounts on these platforms were all registered using a handful of common email addresses and phone numbers. Abbas’s main email account—email@example.com—included a copy of Abbas’s lease at a luxury hotel in Dubai and scans of various government-issued photo IDs under Abbas’ name.
Abbas is accused of participating in a number of “business email compromise” scams. By posing as trusted employees or customers of a target organization, Abbas and his fellow fraudsters allegedly tricked employees into sending large sums to bank accounts they controlled.