A prominent Dubai-based Nigerian socialite, popularly known as Hushpuppi, has been arrested by Emirati authorities on multiple fraud charges and is set to be prosecuted, local newspaper, The National, reports.
The social media celebrity was rounded up alongside 12 others for their involvement in a series of cyber crime activities targeting companies and individuals.
The 38-year-old, who authorities identified as Raymond Abbas, is known for his ostentatious lifestyle and flaunting of his wealth and luxurious acquisitions on social media. His recent post on Instagram was to apparently announce his acquisition of a 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan which has a starting price of around $330,000. He has over two million followers on the photo and video-sharing platform and claims to be a “Real Estate Developer” in his bio.
After his June 10 arrest, he was referred to the Dubai public prosecution and is currently being interrogated by prosecutors at the Bur Dubai section. He has also been charged with “obtaining money from others through fraudulent means,” The National further reports.
According to a senior prosecutor, Mr. Abbas and his accomplices’ modus operandi involved sending out “letters from email addresses almost identical to those of legitimate companies, targeting customers of these companies, with the purpose of diverting payments to themselves.”
“Initial information includes that he was part of this gang which fraudulently obtained cash and cars from people,” the prosecutor continued. “His statement was taken by prosecution but this is just the beginning of prosecution investigations.”
Mr. Abbas is also wanted for other fraud crimes in his home country of Nigeria as well as Europe and the United States.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has reacted to Hushpuppi’s arrest, claiming he is “Nigeria’s most-wanted hacker” in a statement on Thursday. Referring to Hushpuppi as Ramoni Igbalode and not Raymond Abbas, the commission also confirmed his arrest in the United Arab Emirates for his alleged involvement in a “$35 million ventilator scam.”
“The Commission is familiar with grisly details of his money laundering transactions, involving many high-profile cybercriminals facing trial in Nigeria,” the statement said.
“The commission is engaging with the FBI in tracing victims of his fraudulent transactions and other fraudsters having direct involvement with him. Local cybercriminals with money laundering networks with him are also being investigated”.