Instagram sensation Ismaila Mustapha, alias Mompha, says that he was instrumental to bringing Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, from Malaysia to the United Arab Emirates.
He noted that Hushpuppi was stubborn and would not listen to advice, hence his current travails.
Hushpuppi, who attracted millions of followers with pictures of a glamorous jet-setting lifestyle was arrested June 2020 by Dubai police amid claims of a £350m cyberscam.
He is being detained as part of an investigation into money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking and scamming.
Eleven other suspects were detained during the coordinated early morning raids in an operation comprised of officers from the FBI, Interpol and Dubai police. Detectives seized more than 150 million dirham (£30 million) when they swooped on his Dubai apartment as he slept.
Investigators allege that Hushpuppi, a former second-hand clothes trader in Lagos, used his Instagram account to project a billionaire’s luxurious lifestyle to attract followers and lure in potential victims.
Officers say they found the email addresses of nearly two million victims on dozens of phones, computers and hard drives. More than a dozen luxury cars were seized in the raid along with suitcases full of cash.
Mompha said that after Hushpuppi’s arrest, people accused him of being responsible for it and that the agent that facilitated his [Hushpuppi’s] UAE visa was mortified at the turn of events.
Speaking in Pidgin English, he said, “The day dem carry Hushpuppi, I got lots of calls, with people saying, ‘Baba, see wetin you caused; na you make dem carry this guy; na you e dey compete with.’”
Mompha disclosed that, because of the pressure, he pulled down certain photographs from his Instagram handle but that “EFCC called me direct to post my pictures back.” He did not state who called him from the anti-graft agency.
“Na EFCC called me direct to post my pictures back because it will be as if, may be, I dey involved,” Mompha said.
It may be recalled that the UAE-based Instagram personality had stood trial in Nigeria alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd, on an amended 22-count bordering on cyber fraud and money laundering to the tune of N33bn
He was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2020 but was released on bail.
Mompha, on the Daddy Freeze programme, disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, was involved in his interrogation at the EFCC.
He was re-arrested by the anti-graft agency in Lagos when he went to the EFCC office in Ikoyi, Lagos, to reclaim his luxury possessions that included five luxury wristwatches, an Apple iPod, an iPhone 8 device, and a pair of sunglasses, which were among other items found on him when he was arrested on October 19, 2019, in Abuja.
His visit to the EFCC office followed a July 24 ruling by Justice Mohammed Liman ordering the release of the items.
His lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole, said Mompha also withdrew the N5m breach of fundamental human rights suit he filed against the EFCC to challenge his re-arrest.
Continuing, Mompha said, “I’m not angry that I’m always linked with Hushpuppi’s case because if I didn’t bring him, all these issues would not be linked to me. But it’s a normal thing.
“However, the only thing that messed him up was that he didn’t listen and he’s very stubborn.
“So in this life, if something happens to somebody, you’re supposed to think of the next step to take.
“In this life, there is something we do not understand. No matter how big you are, you must face one trial. The only prayer is that you’ll be able to overcome it. There is no trial that someone cannot face.”
A United States federal grand jury indictment unsealed two weeks ago alleges an elaborate scheme to steal more than $1.1 million from a businessperson attempting to finance the construction of a school for children in Qatar – and the subsequent laundering of illicit proceeds through bank accounts around the world.
Hushpuppi and five other persons were indicted, and the 37-year-old principal suspect has already pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges. He awaits his trial that has been scheduled for late October.
The three-count indictment against Hushpuppi and five others — including a Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari — charges three U.S.-based defendants who have also been arrested, as well as three defendants believed to be in Africa – with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.
The criminal complaint that initiated the prosecution in February revealed that Hushpuppi was initially charged in this case.
“Court documents show that Abbas, a 37-year-old Nigerian national, pleaded guilty on April 20. A version of Abbas’ plea agreement outlines his role in the school-finance scheme, as well as several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses,” the statement revealed.
lifestyle by laundering illicit proceeds generated by con artists who use increasingly sophisticated means. In conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we will identify and prosecute perpetrators of business email compromise scams, which is a massive and growing international crime problem.”
According to the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, Kristi K. Johnson, “Mr. Abbas, among the most high-profile money launderers in the world, has admitted to his significant role in perpetrating global BEC fraud, a scheme currently plaguing Americans.”
The court noted that Hushpuppi’s celebrity status and ability to make connections seeped into legitimate organisations and led to several spin-off schemes in the U.S. and abroad.
According to the indictment, Hushpuppi allegedly conspired with Abdulrahman Imraan Juma, a.k.a. “Abdul,” 28, of Kenya, and Kelly Chibuzo Vincent, 40, of Nigeria, to defraud the Qatari businessperson by claiming to be consultants and bankers who could facilitate a loan to finance construction of the planned school. Juma allegedly posed as a facilitator and consultant for the illusory bank loans, while Abbas played the role of “Malik,” a Wells Fargo banker in New York, according to court documents.
Vincent, in turn, allegedly provided support for the false narratives fed to the victim by, among other things, creating bogus documents and arranging for the creation of a fake bank website and phone banking line.
Yusuf Adekinka Anifowoshe, a.k.a. “AJ,” 26, of Brooklyn, New York, allegedly played a role in the fraud, assisting Abbas with a call to the victim posing as “Malik.” Special agents with the FBI arrested Anifowoshe in New York on July 22.
The conspirators allegedly defrauded the victim out of more than $1.1 million.
The proceeds of the fraud allegedly were laundered in several ways. According to the indictment, Hushpuppi was assisted in laundering the proceeds of the fraud by Rukayat Motunraya Fashola, a.k.a. “Morayo,” 28, of Valley Stream, New York, and Bolatito Tawakalitu Agbabiaka, a.k.a. “Bolamide,” 34, of Linden, New Jersey. These two defendants also were arrested on July 22 by FBI agents.
Approximately $230,000 of the stolen funds allegedly were used to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand delivered to Hushpuppi in Dubai and subsequently appeared in his social media posts.
Other illicit proceeds from the scheme were allegedly converted into cashier’s checks, including $50,000 in checks that were used by Abbas and a co-conspirator to fraudulently acquire a St. Christopher and Nevis citizenship, as well as a passport for Abbas obtained by creating a false marriage certificate and then bribing a government official in St. Kitts