A notorious Instagram influencer from Nigeria has been jailed for over 11 years in the United States for his role in an international fraud syndicate.
Hushpuppi, whose real name was Ramon Abbas, flaunted his wealthy lifestyle on his page, which had 2.8 million followers until it was deactivated.
The Los Angeles judge also ordered him to pay $1,732,841 (£1,516,182) in restitution to two fraud victims.
Abbas will serve his 135-month sentence in federal prison.
Last year he pleaded guilty to money laundering.
According to court documents in California, Abbas admitted to trying to steal more than $1.1 million from someone who wanted to fund a new school for children in Qatar.
The fraudster tricked his victim into providing funds to the school “by acting as bank officials and creating a fake website”, according to a statement by then-serving U.S. attorney Tracy Wilkinson on the US Department of Justice website. Other suspects were also believed to have been involved, the US Department of Justice said, with Abbas playing a key role.
Abbas also admitted to having “several other email and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses,” the US Department of Justice said.
“Abbas leveraged his social media platforms… to gain notoriety and to brag about the immense wealth he acquired by conducting business email compromise scams, online bank heists and other cyber-enabled fraud that financially ruined scores of victims and provided assistance to the North Korean regime.
“This significant sentence is the result of years’ worth of collaboration among law enforcement in multiple countries and should send a clear warning to international fraudsters that the FBI will seek justice for victims, regardless of whether criminals operate within or outside United States borders.”
Abbas apologised for his crimes to Judge Otis D Wright in a handwritten note, saying he would use his personal funds to pay back his victims. He also said he had only made $300,000 from the crime he was being tried for.
Abbas’ luxurious lifestyle came to an abrupt end in 2020, when he was arrested while living in Dubai.
His Instagram account, which featured pricey cars and designer clothing, was worlds away from his humble beginnings