I apologize for my fraudulent schemes – Hushpuppi
Ramon Abbas, well known as Hushpuppi, a Nigerian Instagram celebrity awaiting sentencing by a US court, has expressed regret for his role in the fraudulent schemes for which he has been detained since June 2020.
Hushpuppi was arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of Dubai in June 2020 and extradited to the United States, where he pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2021.
According to a court notice, trial judge Otis Wright has set November 7 as the date for Hushpuppi’s sentencing.
Hushpuppi begged for leniency in a three-page hand-written letter to the judge from the Central Valley Annex Prison in McFarland, California, ahead of his sentencing.
He specifically expressed regrets for allowing greed to destroy his family name and apologies for his actions.
Mr. Abbas said he would make better choices and friends if he could turn back the hands of time.
“Your honor, I make no excuse for my actions and I take full responsibility for what I have done. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would make an entirely different decision and be more careful in the choices and friends I make.
“Since I have been incarcerated, I have had enough time to reflect on the past and I regret letting greed ruin the good name of my family, my blessing, and my name,” he stated.
He apologized to the victims of his crimes, law enforcement agencies, the US government’s lawyers, and the judge handling his case.
“I will like to especially apologize to the victims in the case I am involved with from count(s) one to five and more personal to ….and her entire family.
“I apologize to the law enforcement agents who have worked tirelessly to make the world a safer place and to the US Attorney’s entire office for the great work of upholding the law against criminals like myself; And to the court and you, Your Honour, for an impartial serving of justice through the years.”
In his emotional-laden letter to the judge, he also apologized to his family members, including his parents and three children aged four, five, and eight.
He expressed hope that the children would forgive him by the time they fully understood the unfolding events in the future.
“I also apologize to my parents, my family members, who this case has affected their lives, my friends and well-wishers, who I have disappointed, and my children even though they may be too young to understand why I’m absent in their lives, I hope someday they see this and forgive me, and I hope God forgives me too,” he said.
The 39-year-old, known for flaunting his opulent lifestyle on social media, was arrested in Dubai, UAE, by special agents including the Emerati police officers and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operatives in June 2020.
He was flown to the US where he was charged with money laundering offenses.
Mr. Abbas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in money laundering in July 2021.
The FBI stated in an affidavit that its investigations revealed that Mr. Abbas financed this extravagant lifestyle with proceeds of crime.
Hushpuppi, according to the US government, “knowingly combined, agreed, and conspired with multiple other persons (“co-conspirators”) to conduct financial transactions into, within, and outside the United States involving property that represented the proceeds of wire fraud” from at least about 18 January 2019 to 9 June 2020.
His co-conspirators, according to prosecutors, targeted multiple victims and laundered and/or attempted to launder funds fraudulently obtained, and attempted to be fraudulently obtained, through bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) frauds, and other fraud schemes.
The intended victims of the conspiracy were said to include a foreign financial institution, a bank in Malta, a law firm (located in New York State), and two companies located in the United Kingdom.
Mr Abbas knew “these fraudulent schemes included bank cyber-heists, BEC schemes, and other fraud schemes”, the prosecutors said.
The foreign financial institution (a bank in Malta) was an intended victim of a cyber-heist, while the other victims identified above were victims of BEC schemes.
In some BEC schemes involving victim companies in the United Kingdom, Mr Abbas was said to have with one co-conspirator discussed on May 12, 2019, how they anticipated fraudulent payments of approximately £6 million per week.
“Once a victim deposited funds into a bank account, the defendant would coordinate with other coconspirators to obtain or move the funds, and then to further launder the funds,” the U.S. government said.
In addition to admitting the defendant’s involvement in the schemes intending to defraud the victims, Mr Abbas was also said to have admitted involvement in a scheme to defraud a victim company in Qatar that was building an international school (the Qatari Victim Company) and the owner of that company.
Hushpuppi said in his letter to the trial judge that of all the five cases of fraud listed against him, only the one perpetrated against the Qatari businessperson provided him some gains.
Denying being the organizer of the scheme, he said he was only recruited into it. He maintained that his involvement in it “was very ephemeral”.
He said, even though, the fraudulent scheme robbed the victim of about $800,000, he benefitted only $300,000 from the proceeds.
“I was recruited into an ongoing loan scheme in which my involvement was very ephemeral though cost the victim a fraction of a total loss of over $800,000.
“My episode in the scheme amounts to a lose of over $300,000 out of a total $800,000 loss to the victim I take full responsibility for my actions and entire scheme and make no excuse (for) my mistake of ever getting involved and I have signed for the entire loss, in this case, to be paid with my personal property not just what I profited but the entire loss of over $800,000 in my P.S.R.”
But he expressed his willingness to pay full restitution of $1.7 million to all victims including those from whom he claimed not to have derived any gain.