Ramon Olorunwa Abbas
15 July 2020
Last month, the Dubai Police Force arrested twelve alleged Nigerian scammers living in the United Arab Emirates as part of their now-viral special operation dubbed “Fox Hunt 2.” In the six raids conducted Dubai police seized, among others, more than $40 million in cash and hard disks containing the addresses of nearly two million victims. One of them Ramon Olorunwa Abbas aka “Ray Hushpuppi.”
Abbas, a Dubai resident has arrived in the United States to face criminal charges alleging he conspired 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 English Premier League soccer club. He was arrested by UAE authorities last month. FBI agents obtained custody of Abbas.
According to the affidavit filed, Abbas is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars,”. A BEC scheme typically targets companies working with foreign suppliers and companies that regularly perform wire transfers.
The affidavit describes BEC schemes as often involving a computer hacker gaining unauthorized access to a business’ email account, blocking or redirecting communications to and from that email account, and then using the compromised email account or a separate fraudulent email account to communicate with personnel from a victim company and to attempt to trick them into making an unauthorized wire transfer. In 2019 alone, the FBI recorded $1.7 billion in losses by companies and individuals victimized through BEC scams.
Abbas and others “conspired to launder $124m from an English Premier League soccer club,” the Department of Justice said. The club was not named by the agency. Abbas is also accused of laundering $14.7m stolen in a cyber-heist from an unnamed bank in February 2019, sending the money to bank accounts around the world.
Source: Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California