Who is Hushpuppi? – IG influencer nabbed in R19.3bn scam

Andile Sicetsha - 22.02.2021

On Instagram, he was the lavish lifestyle extraordinaire. In reality, Hushpuppi is allegedly part of a notorious North Korean hacker ring that has stolen billions of dollars.

The U.S Justice Department has launched a billion-dollar legal case against renowned Instagram influencer Hushpuppi that could see the Nigerian social media star spend a long time behind bars if found guilty.

Who is Hushpuppi?

Ramon Abbas has more than two million followers on Instagram, most of whom clog up the extravagant influencer’s timeline looking with great aspiration at his lavish lifestyle.

He flies in chartered private jets, drives one-of-one sports cars and wears high-end designer clothes. But, many people don’t actually know what he does to sustain such a financially demanding manner of living.

Well, the skeletons of his facade rolled out of the closet in July 2020, when he was captured in Dubai and extradited to the U.S for fraud and money laundering charges linked to a multi-million dollar business email scam.

In a Forbes exclusive, the alleged fraudster’s lawyer claimed that the charges against him were a farce and that Hushpuppi made his riches from his real estate portfolio and other entrepreneurial ventures.

Did he aid North Korean hackers in a bank heist?

This, however, is far from what the forensic evidence suggests, the U.S Justice Department said in a Bloomberg report. In the midst of the business email fraud investigation, U.S intel operatives found that Hushpuppi was deeply linked to a network of North Korean hackers who are notorious for pulling off grand cyber heists.

Jon Chang Hyok, Kim Il and Park Jin Hyok are three hackers who have been linked with the Nigerian influencer. According to the Justice Department, Hushpuppi was very much involved in the extortion of more than R19.3 billion ($1.3 billion) of cash and cryptocurrency.

Parts of this crime spree includes:

  • the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. in 2014;
  • the attempted theft of nearly $1 billion from Bangladesh’s central bank in 2016;
  • the heist of an unidentified Maltese bank in February 2019;
  • millions laundered by hacking ATM machines from BankIslami in Pakistan and an unnamed bank in India;
  • scamming a paralegal at a U.S. law firm into wiring them almost R13.7 million ($923 000) in October 2019; and
  • plotting to steal R1.86 billion ($125 million) from an unnamed football club in the English Premier League; among other crimes.

At the core of the Justice Department’s case against Hushpuppi is his former cohort, Ghaleb Alaumary, a Canadian national who entered into a plea agreement with U.S authorities.

Alaumary, from what we understand, is ready to sing like a canary on the cyber crime spree he, Hushpuppi and others were apart of.

The trial against Hushpuppi has not kicked off, as yet. We understand that the Nigerian influencer is in police custody.