The United States authorities Friday has revealed that a Premier League club was among the victims an alleged fraudster, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi, conspired to defraud.
Hushpuppi is set to face criminal charges, after allegedly conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an unnamed English Premier League soccer club, the US Attorney office says.
Hushpuppi, who is a Dubai resident, usually flaunts his extravagant lifestyle on social media. He arrived in the United States on Thursday to face criminal charges after being expelled from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He appeared in the U.S. court Friday morning in Chicago, and he is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks.
US Department of Justice explains the offenses of Hushpuppi and accomplices
The Department of Justice said in a statement on Friday sais Huspuppi and accomplice further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million from an English Premier League soccer club, as alleged by the complaint.
According to the FBI’s criminal complaint against Hushpuppi, he was arrested earlier in June along with Olalekan Jacob Ponle, also known as Woodberry and ten others in six simultaneous raids carried out by the e-police unit of the Dubai Police.
The gang was responsible for Dh1.6 billion fraud involving over 1.9 million victims. Items worth Dh 150 million were also seized. Other items recovered include 13 luxury cars worth Dh 25 million, 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 memory storage devices, five external hard drives, and 800, 000 emails of potential victims.
Their arrest was effected in operation codenamed Fox Hunt 2 after about four months of painstaking investigations into their activities, during which the highly trained police unit monitored their social media activities. The Dubai Media Office further revealed that their police were able to track the locations of the suspected fraudsters using their social media activities.
According to Dubai Police, Hushpuppi and his gang specialized in hacking corporate emails and then send fictitious messages to the clients of the companies whose email accounts they have hacked to redirect financial transactions and bank details to their accounts.
“This was a challenging case, one that spanned international boundaries, traditional financial systems and the digital sphere,” said Jesse Baker, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Los Angles Field Office.
The DoJ affidavit alleges that Hushpuppi and others committed a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019.
Abbas and co-conspirators also allegedly tricked one of the law firm’s paralegals into wiring money intended for the client’s real estate refinancing to a bank account that was controlled by Abbas and the co-conspirators.
“BEC schemes are one of the most difficult cybercrimes we encounter as they typically involve a coordinated group of con artists scattered around the world who have experience with computer hacking and exploiting the international financial system,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.
“This case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle in another country while allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world. As this case demonstrates, my office will continue to hold such criminals accountable, no matter where they live.”
“In 2019 alone, the FBI recorded $1.7 billion in losses by companies and individuals victimized through business email compromise scams, the type of scheme Mr. Abbas is charged with conducting from abroad,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
“While this arrest has effectively taken a major alleged BEC player offline, BEC scams represent the most financially costly type of scheme reported to the FBI. I urge anyone who transfers funds personally or on behalf of a company to educate themselves about BEC so they can identify this insidious scheme before losing sizable amounts of money.”
Hushpuppi would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.