The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has revealed the mode of operation through which the suspected Nigerian swindler Ramon Olorunwa Abbas alias Hushpuppi and his gang were tracked until he was arrested in Dubai, United Arabs Emirates (UAE) on June 10.
Special agent Andrew John Innocenti, in an affidavit attached to the charges against Hushpuppi in the US, said the main suspect and others identified only as Coconspirator 1 and Coconspirator 2, used to hack into the computers of their targets and move money from one account to the other across the globe.
They then use the huge money so realised to live large, acquiring expensive properties, designer clothes, expensive watches and luxury cars, and also charter jets.
According to the FBI agent, their Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud schemes “often involve a computer hacker gaining unauthorised access to a business email account, blocking or redirecting communications to and/or from that email account, and then using the compromised email account or a separate fraudulent email account (sometimes called a “spoofed” email account) to communicate with personnel from a victim company and to attempt to trick them into making an unauthorised wire transfer.
“The fraudster will direct the unsuspecting personnel of the victim company to wire funds to the bank account of a third party (sometimes referred to as a “money mule”), which is often a bank account owned, controlled, and/or used by individuals involved in the scheme based in the United States.
“The money may then be laundered by wiring or transferring it through numerous bank accounts to launder the money, or by quickly withdrawing it as cash, by check, or by cashier’s check.”
Abbas and Coconspirators 1 and 2 allegedly laundered approximately $396,050 while Coconspirator 2 was in Los Angeles, California
Abbas and Coconspirator 1, he said;
“Conspired to launder funds intended to be stolen through fraudulent wire transfers from a foreign financial institution (the “Foreign Financial Institution”), in which fraudulent wire transfers totalling approximately €13 million (approximately USD $14.7 million) were sent to bank accounts around the world in February 2019.
“Coconspirator 1 conspired with the persons who initiated the fraudulent wire transfers and also conspired with a number of others, including ABBAS, to launder the funds that were intended to be stolen.
“ABBAS, specifically, provided Coconspirator 1 with two bank accounts in Europe that ABBAS anticipated would each receive €5 million of the fraudulently obtained funds.”
Continuing, he said that analysis of Coconspirator 1’s iPhone and other online accounts showed that Coconspirator 1 “operated and tasked money mule crews for a number of fraudulent schemes, including BEC schemes and cyber-heists.
“Analysis also showed that Coconspirator 1 communicated with the U.A.E. phone number +971543777711 (“Phone Number 1”) about multiple fraudulent schemes and money laundering.
“Phone Number 1 was one of the phone numbers ABBAS used during 2019 and 2020.
“Based on my review (pursuant to federal search warrants obtained in this District) of data from Coconspirator 1’s iPhone and from an online account connected to that phone (the “Online Account”), other law enforcement personnel’s review of that digital data, and from discussions with United States Secret Service (“USSS”) and FBI personnel, I know the following: a. Coconspirator 1’s iPhone listed Phone Number 1 (+971543777711) with the contact name “Hush.” The phone also contained a contact for Snapchat username “hushpuppi5,” which listed the Snapchat contact name “The Billionaire Gucci Master!!!” b. Searches of Phone Number 1 and the contact name “Hush” inCoconspirator 1’s iPhone revealed messaging conversations between “Hush,” using Phone Number 1, and Coconspirator 1. (For ease of reference, communications with this moniker and Phone Number 1 are referred to as communications with ABBAS in the remainder of this affidavit.)
“In or around December 2019, April 2020, and June 2020, I reviewed the publicly viewable Instagram account of “hushpuppi” at www.instagram.com/hushpuppi.
“Based on information available on the profile page, the user of that account made more than 500 posts and had 2.3 million followers as of June 2020.11.
“This Instagram account included numerous publicly viewable images of a man who appeared to be ABBAS, based on comparisons to photographs of ABBAS in passports and other identification documents referenced below in paragraphs 16.c to 16.c.iv.
“Hundreds of these images on the Instagram account showed ABBAS in designer clothing and shoes, posing on or in luxury vehicles, wearing high-end watches, or possessing other luxury items, indicating substantial wealth.”
Abbas made his initial court appearance in Chicago, USA, on Friday and he is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks.
He was extradited to the USA from Dubai on Thursday to face charges of conspiracy to launder millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams.
The US Justice Department described Abbas as a “Dubai resident who flaunted his extravagant lifestyle on social media.”
Hushpuppi was arrested along with 11 others in six simultaneous raids carried out by the Dubai Police.
Confiscated from them were 13 luxury cars worth N2. 640 billion (Dh 25 million), 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 memory storage devices, 5 external hard drives and 800, 000 emails of potential victims.
The gang was responsible for Dh1.6 billion (about N169 billion) fraud involving over 1.9 million victims.
LAWMA arrests 13 cart pushers
Concerned by the growing trend of environmental degradation in some parts of the state which was occasioned by the activities of cart pushers, Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) has swung into action by clamping down on all forms of cart pushing, in a bid to return sanity to the affected areas.
In a statement released to the media on Saturday, the Authority said it had stepped up efforts to make Lagos cleaner and livable for all, by introducing novel waste management programme in the state, as well as supporting PSP operators to discharge their primary duties effectively.
The Authority, however, pointed out that the efforts to protect the environment was being hampered by the activities of cart pushers who engaged in the flagrant acts of indiscriminate waste disposal in such places as canals, road medians, undeveloped properties, etc.
“The menace of cart pushing in some parts of the state has led to the rise of indiscriminate waste disposal and exposure of residents to myriads of health hazards, especially during this period that the Lagos State Government is tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We cannot fold our hands and watch few unscrupulous elements jeopardize efforts of the State to make the Lagos metropolis cleaner, healthier and livable for all. To this effect all forms of cart pushing remains banned and anyone caught contravening the Environmental Laws of the State will face the full wrath of the law,” the statement read.
In the same vein, the Authority appealed to residents to imbibe the culture of bagging their wastes and giving them to their assigned PSP operators instead of patronizing cart-pushers or dumping them on the roads and other unauthorized locations.
At least, 13 cart pushers were arrested during the operation.
Siblings arrested for masterminding kidnap of their youngest brother so as to extort N7m from their grandfather (Photo)
The police in Imo state have arrested two brothers for conniving with other members of a kidnap gang, to abduct their youngest brother, Confidence Osuji, 14, so as to extort N7 million from their grandfather.
The two brothers identified as Fortunate Osuji and Praise Osuji are 25 and 17 respectively.
The state Commissioner of Police, Isaac Akinmoyede, who disclosed this to newsmen, said the Osuji brothers lost their parents in 2009 and were taken in by their grandfather, Chief Chukwuma Osuji, who is said to be the traditional Prime Minister of his village, Emekuku in Owerri North local government area of the state.
The state Commissioner said on June 10, 2020, at 6:30 pm, the distraught grandfather visited the Anti-Kidnapping Squad in the state where he reported that one of his sons, Confidence Osuji, was kidnapped at Ezedibia Emekuku in Owerri North local government area of Imo State.
The police boss said the Squad’s Commander, Linus Nwaiwu (Superintendent of Police) and his operatives, through technical intelligence device, was able to track the kidnappers to their location, Amaiyii-Amate Ikeduru L.G.A, Imo State, on June 11, 2020.
With the exception of their gang leader, Nelson Dike, from Obowo L.G.A but resident at St. Christiana Hospital Road, Egbu, Owerri North L.G.A and still at large, all the other gang members were arrested, besides Fortunate and his younger brother, Praise.
The members include: Bernard Ugo, native of Mbano L.G.A, Imo State but who is resident somewhere in Orji, Owerri North L.G.A. Bernard is said to be the one who threatened the grandfather to pay N7 million or else they would use Confidence for rituals.
In an interview with The Sun, the distraught grandfather expressed shock that his own grandchildren can hatch and execute such an evil plan.
“When I didn’t see my grandson, Confidence, who was kidnapped I immediately reported the case to the Anti-Kidnapping Squad.
The kidnappers started calling me on my phone and demanding for N7 million. They threatened that if I refused to pay the ransom, they would use the victim for ritual. I quickly went and dropped N1 million without the consent of the police. I dropped the money at their camp at Upe in Ngor-Okpala local government area of Imo State.
I was surprised that immediately I paid the money, that evening my grandson was released. I was happy. But suddenly the police came and arrested the three children. I didn’t understand until when they got into custody and Fortunate confessed that he masterminded the kidnapping with Praise. He confessed that they conspired to kidnap their younger brother with other five kidnappers. It came to me as a big shock. I didn’t believe it myself.” the distraight grandfather said.
When interrogated, the mastermind of the kidnap, Fortunate who is the eldest of the three brothers, said;
“I attended Foundation Nursery and Primary School, from where I proceeded to Domino International Secondary School. I studied Business Administration and Management at Abia State University and graduated on October 7, 2019. Right now, I am waiting for my NYSC posting.
My father, Elvis Osuji died in 2009 at Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, while my mother, Blessing Osuji died the same year in Abia State. We are three children – myself, Praise and Confidence. We have been living with our grandparents from 2009 till date. I was the one who masterminded the kidnapping of my younger brother. We started planning it in 2017 and I had to win the heart of my younger brother, Praise, to agree with me. I later contracted my five gang members of kidnappers to execute it on June 10, 2020. I gave Confidence N200 to wait for us at a particular junction leading to Nelson’s house. I said we were going out for shopping. But it was a lie. Before that time, I had arranged with my friends. The moment he got to that junction they kidnapped him and kept him in their custody.
While my grandfather was looking for him, I feigned ignorance and played along and helped to look for him too. Initially, the Anti-Kidnapping operatives suspected and arrested me but my grandfather vouched for me that I didn’t know anything. I was released that day. My gang members ordered my grandfather to pay N7 million. But he pleaded and later paid N1 million. Immediately, my younger brother was released. Our leader, Nelson, who is still at large transferred N450, 000, which is my share of the ransom to my bank account.
It was on June 18, 2020 that the operatives came to the house and arrested three of us and took us into their custody. I was interrogated and I confessed that I was the one who masterminded the kidnapping and that the N450,000 sent to my account as my share is still intact. My grandfather was good to us. But we needed money to set up a barber’s salon where we can make some personal money. I regret what I did and I want my grandfather to forgive us for what we have done.”
Praise on his part, also said he regrets his actions and pleaded for forgiveness.
“I attended Foundation Primary School and went to Emekuku High School. I finished in 2019 and I am waiting for admission into the university. It was my senior brother Fortunate who masterminded the kidnapping of our younger brother, Confidence. He gave him N200 to take a transport and wait for him in one of the gang member’s house, Nelson who he didn’t know because he had not met him before. But as he was on his way, at the junction leading to the house, he was kidnapped. When police detectives arrested Fortunate, I was the one who quickly called Okechukwu on the phone to ask them to relocate to another place because the police detectives may soon catch them.”Praise said
The victim, 14-year-old Confidence, described his abduction as a terrible thing to have been conspired by his own brothers.
“It was a terrible experience as my elder brother, Fortunate, deceived me that they want to take me out for shopping. He gave me N200 to go to his friend’s house, Nelson, to wait for him. I didn’t know him in person or what he looked like. But at a junction leading to his house I was kidnapped and kept in captivity for one week. They moved me from one primary school to a forest until I was later released. My elder brother, Fortunate, didn’t tell me anything until the police came and arrested us. I attended Foundation Nursery and Primary School. I am a student of Emekuku High School. Right now, I am in SS1.” Confidence said
Amotekun corps member, two others arrested over theft in Osun
A member of the Osun State Amotekun Corps identified as Lukas and two others have been arrested by men of the Nigeria Police, C Division, Aganhun over theft in Ife.
Newsmen learnt that suspected Lukas was arrested on Friday for allegedly stealing raw gold from Jioore mining site, Oke-Owenna, Ile-Ife, alongside one Sunday and a yet to be identified man from the northern part of the country.
Speaking on the incident, the district head in charge of the area, Chief Adebayo Akinola John revealed that he hired Sunday who used to work with Chinese miners to work on his cocoa farm before he (Sunday) began several suspicious moves.
“I have been noticing him especially his sudden keen friendship with Lukas and some other Amotekun guys.
“So one of my wives called me to inform me about Sunday’s return from a mining site with the Amotekun guy, so I ordered them to search him before allowing him to enter the house which they did and did not find anything on him.
“In fact, they lured him into a room and lock him up, hoping to stop him from leaving the house till I return that day but he broke out. Shortly after my return, he walked in and I confronted him which he could not deny”, the district head added.
Reacting to the development, the Investigative Police Officer (I.P.O) in charge of the case, Inspector Busola Joseph said that the suspects have been assisting with useful information, assuring that the law will take its place.
“Sunday, the prime suspect has helped with useful information which led to the arrest of the Amotekun guy and the Hausa man who has been buying the alleged stolen item from him.” The Police officer noted.
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