Instagram Fraudster Gucci Handed 11yrs Jail Sentence Over Global Theft & Money Laundering Scam

Instagram Fraudster Gucci Handed 11yrs Jail Sentence Over Global Theft & Money Laundering Scam

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By Spy Uganda Correspondent

The Nigerian Instagram influencer who flaunted his wealth on social media as @hushpuppi and the Billionaire Gucci Master has been ordered to spend the next 11 years in a US prison for his role in a global theft and money-laundering scam.

Ramon Abbas, 40, has been sentenced in Los Angeles to 135 months in prison after pleading guilty in April 2021 to conspiracy to engage in money laundering, which included helping North Korean hackers launder money from their attempts to steal more than $1.3 billion through cyber-enabled bank heists, according to the US government.

In agreeing to plead guilty, Abbas waived most of his rights to appeal the sentence, although he can still do so under limited circumstances.

“Everything is on the table,” Abbas’s lawyer John Iweanoge said after the sentencing hearing in Los Angeles, where he suggested an appropriate sentence would have been four to five years. “It was way, way more than we thought,” he said.

Abbas, born in Nigeria, gained fame in Instagram posts to his more than 2 million followers, often smiling in front of one of his Rolls Royces or his Ferrari, or kicking back in a seat on a private jet. On gossip blogs, he was known as a “Nigerian big boy,” shorthand for an online fraudster.

“He was an equal opportunity criminal,” prosecutors said in a court filing, citing his “long history as a scammer and money launderer.” Abbas “is, by all accounts, an ambitious individual, but his ambition has long been directed towards crime and its rewards,” the government said. His “conduct was reprehensible and deserves serious punishment.”

US District Judge Otis Wright said he felt prosecutors and defense lawyers were talking about two different people in their depictions of Abbas.

Abbas’s lawyers painted a picture of a family man and successful businessman who strayed into a world of crime and did little more than provide access to bank accounts to fraudsters.

Abbas, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffed, told the judge he was in deep financial trouble in 2019 when he accepted offers from some associates to help them launder money.

“I was desperate, your honor,” he said. “I was very desperate.”

He apologized to his victims and promised to repay them in full by selling his two Rolls Royces, a Ferrari and a Range Rover.

In his plea agreement, Abbas admitted to setting up bank accounts in Romania and Bulgaria for Ghaleb Alaumary, a convicted money launderer, through which money from a Maltese bank heist was laundered. The US charged North Korean hackers with stealing, or planning to steal, 13 million Euros ($13 million) from the Maltese bank.

Abbas also set up a bank account in Mexico to help launder money from email scams that targeted a UK professional soccer club and and a UK company. Those scams would’ve ripped off the UK victims of 6 million pounds ($6.9 million), the US said. He also admitted to helping launder money from other victims of fraud, including a New York City law firm and a company in Qatar, according to the US.

Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Abbas to 11 years and three months in prison.

Abbas didn’t know how many people were involved in the conspiracy, nor how much money was involved, his lawyers said. They blamed his involvement on his naivete and poor judgment.

“Mr. Abbas was not the leader, organizer, or supervisor in the commission of this offense,” his attorneys said. “Mr. Abbas has done everything in his power to right his wrongful acts.”

In a letter to the judge, Abbas apologized for his actions.

“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,” he said in the handwritten letter that didn’t save him.

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