back to article Instagram star gets 11 years for $300m email scam plot

An international cyber-scammer and Instagram star who plotted to launder more than $300 million over the course of 18 months was this week jailed – and he must pay back more than $1.7 million to his victims.  Nigerian-born Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, 40, also known as Ray Hushpuppi, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and will spend 11 …

  1. sarusa Silver badge
    Trollface

    So redundant

    "An international cyber-scammer and Instagram star"

    This seems completely redundant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At least in one direction

      Plenty of uncaught cybercriminals that are just barely smart enough to stay off Instagram. Wonder if there is a line item for what Metaface raked in for ads to his "followers", and what his end of the take was. Zuckerburg DNGAF if you are comitting obvious fraud, so long as you keep their ad revenue up. But they will be spared the public embarrassment, as Meta was collecting it's cut from Rolex and Bentley, who are hardly going to out themselves for serving ads targeting the shady Dubai jet set.

      Once again, hats off to the Lads from Lagos, those magnificent bastards. The vintage 419s may nearly lost to history, but the game is still going strong.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Al Capwned

    Looks like it's chilly in that caravan; poor chap needs a blanket!

    1. Plest Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Al Capwned

      He's got his washer/dryer on next to him, just waiting for his "grots wash cycle" to finish!

  3. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Fraud - Not just BEC

    A few days ago I got a phone call form my pension company asking if I had requested an options form for taking my pension. I had not, and they explained that they'd had a phone call form someone purporting to be me, requesting a form, which had been sent, and they had received it completed (with the take all my fund as cash' box ticked). Listening to the call recording, they realised it did not sound like me, but more like the fraudster who had attempted the same trick over two ears ago.

    So now I've had to warn all the other companies that the fraudsters are back, and are stealing my post again. Really quite stressful, but not lost any money this time (yet).

    Be alert and check, and set up passwords for withdrawals on accounts if you can. These people have a high gain, low risk way of stealing your money - no one is actually trying to catch them because they count as 'small fry' and the really big fraudsters like Mr Hushpuppi are the ones the police go after.

    Merry Christmas everybody.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

      They really have no interest in going after the scammers who hurt humans, not the ones who aren't really hurting anybody.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

        It's kind of hard to find a scammer who isn't hurting anybody. Usually, when someone says that, they mean "isn't hurting anybody I care about", and the statement says more about their lack of caring than about the scammers lack of harming.

        1. ChoHag Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

          We really have been sold to the Americans haven't we?

          > It's kind of hard to find a scammer who isn't hurting anybody. Usually, when someone says that, they mean "isn't hurting anybody I care about"

          That was the joke.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

            Poe's Law may apply here, but if AC's post was meant as a joke, it was dry to the point of parched. And not actually funny.

    2. PRR Bronze badge

      Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

      > ...my pension company asking if I had requested an options form for taking my pension. ..snip.. with the 'take all my fund as cash' box ticked.

      Sounds like it may be time for YOU to 'take all my fund as cash' and put the loot someplace safer. Under your bed, CryptCoin, Meta stock, anywhere but there.

      You do have me thinking. I just elected to get my US Social Security (money for old folks) payments. I did it all on-line. I don't know what "shared secret" confirmed my identity. "Everybody" knows my SS#, my birthday, all the usual bumph. When I log-in on the SS site they send me a one-time PIN, but they send it to an email address "I" supplied a few years ago. They will send the money to a bank account "I" designated. Or was it my long-term evil maid? A long-game hacker?

      And yeah. In that photo he looks like us the first winter in Maine, with the crappy old heater: heavy clothes and blanket in over-stuffed furniture. A millionaire should live better.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

        The problem with taking all my fund as cash is that although the first 25% is tax free, the rest is taxed as income. So all in one lump sum would be over £150,000 in one tax year getting me to the 45% tax rate for some and 40% for most of the rest.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

          And also any future pension contributions, including your on your employer's scheme are going to be a big problem.

          If you are concerned about your current pension provider, then consider moving the money to another provider.

          Don't move it if your pension scheme is a government scheme or old company scheme that has guarantees.

    3. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

      "a phone call form someone purporting to be me, requesting a form, which had been sent, and they had received it completed"

      Zero marks to the pension company. Why would they send a form of this sensitivity (indeed any correspondence) to an address other than the one registered by the legitimate customer? And if an attempt were made to change the address, they should always confirm to the original contact.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Fraud - Not just BEC

        The pension company sent it to my address, it was intercepted and returned completed. The fraudsters have stolen my private mail before, and clearly, despite several complaints to the Post Office still have the ability to do so.

  4. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

    If her sentence is even 1 second shorter than this chap's then that is just proof of the institutionalised racism in what passes for 'justice' in the USA.

    1. llaryllama

      Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

      Nice try but 11 years is actually surprisingly light for someone who has aggressively scammed hundreds of millions, knew exactly what he was doing and then flaunted his ill gotten gains. Bringing up a non relevant and bizarre race argument is - dare I say it - kind of racist.

      1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

        Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

        It is precisely because of flawed arguments like yours that black people spend longer in prison for lesser crimes than white people. It's - dare I say it - kind of racist.

        1. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

          Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

          That North Korean connection is not a good look for this guy, I don't think Holmes conspired with rogue nations, she only took from feeble-minded / greedy "investors".

          1. MiguelC Silver badge

            Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

            And potentially harmed thousands of people using Theranos machines who got misleading results, but who cares about the little people....

        2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

          Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

          The reason they spend longer sentences isn't the color of thier skin it is the nature of the crimes, and you have the current President to thank for that!

          The majority of blacks imprisoned post 1990 are for drug crimes which had federally imposed minimum sentences. This also includes murder where drugs are involved. These laws specifically targeted drugs predominantly used by blacks, i.e. crack and heroin. Powdered cocain was not included in these laws, why? That's a white people drug! It's the same with opioids but that's a whole nuther issue.

          Everyone wants to believe it is the Right in America that is racist, but if you take a critical look at the laws passed by the Left since 1964 you see a pattern of deliberate attempts to degrade and destroy the lives of black Americans.

          Do not listen to what they say, look at what they do!

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

            The "tough on crime" movement in the Federal and state governments was equal-opportunity for legislators. Certainly many Democrats contributed – it was the Clintons who popularized the bullshit "superpredator" idea – but Republicans are by no means innocent.

            Neither party has a consistently good record on race. Republicans initially were the abolitionist party, but many (including Lincoln) wanted to institute racial "purity" by deporting people of African ancestry back to Africa. And while Democrats were the main supporters of segregation and Jim Crow for decades, around the middle of the 20th century those roles began to shift with the Republican Party becoming more and more regressive while the Democratic Party officially supported civil rights. (If not particularly enthusiastically. Most of the civil-rights improvements in the US were a combination of popular support by the Silent Generation and decisions by SCOTUS prior to Nixon's appointment of Burger as CJ.)

            And as I noted above, neither Clinton nor Obama were good on civil rights, broadly speaking; and Carter was hamstrung by rebellion in his own party, 70's malaise, a (largely failed) focus on environmental affairs, and foreign-policy distractions.

        3. llaryllama

          Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

          Which part of the argument is flawed? The part about 11 years being pretty light for defrauding SMEs, businesses and individuals out of millions and laundering money for very unsavory entities?

          BTW looks like Holmes got a 1/4 year longer sentence than your poor maligned Instagram friend there, so..

    2. parlei Bronze badge

      Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

      Yes and no. On one hand sentencing done right is complex, depending on a number of factors (crime, priors, risk of re-offending etc): almost no two cases are perfectly equal. On the other hand USA most certainly has a serious institutionalised racism problem, including in the judicial system.

      Elizabeth Holmes defrauded a bunch of tech-bro vulture capitalists (no one who actually understood clinical chemistry believed her for a New York second) , which some would argue is almost but not quite a public service[1]. This man laundered money for pretty much all comers, as well as actively defrauded several people, which is a different set of crimes.

      [1] I don't agree personally, since her bullshit almost certainly confused a bunch of innocent bystanders, and ate money that could have been used to do actual good.

      1. Fogcat

        Re: I wonder how long Elizabeth Holmes will get

        Apparently she *didn't* defraud the little people, you know people getting misleading results from her tests or anything.

        "Holmes, 37, reportedly showed little emotion when the verdicts were read out. The jury found her not guilty of four charges of defrauding the public, though this was cold comfort when set against the other seven charges of defrauding investors and wire fraud. She has denied the charges."

        https://www.theregister.com/2022/01/04/elizabeth_holmes_guilty_verdict_theranos/

  5. Howard Sway Silver badge

    a prolific social media user, regularly posting photos of his lavish lifestyle

    This is becoming quite a common story, and is perhaps one of the few benefits of the "look at me" culture of showing off on things like Instagram : the police can see them, and then turn up and ask them where they got all the cash from.

    Of course there are some who are smart enough to not behave this stupidly, but the temptation to flaunt all the new bling and build up a social media following seems to be part of the same mindset that leads people to believe they can be a successful scammer.

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: a prolific social media user, regularly posting photos of his lavish lifestyle

      Yup, and we all know the cops will harvest the low hanging fruit first, just like anyone else would. They'll bust the ones who go online and not only confess but brag about the crime first. Easy and effective.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: a prolific social media user, regularly posting photos of his lavish lifestyle

      "one of the few benefits of the "look at me" culture of showing off on things like Instagram : the police can see them"

      I remember a couple of burglars who posted on farcebook from the victim's premises or laptop. Not surprisingly, they got caught.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: a prolific social media user, regularly posting photos of his lavish lifestyle

        I recall there was also a chap hiding in his cupboard while the police searched his home, posted in real time where he was and mocking the police for not finding him. Strangely he got caught too. <Thinks> Hey! Maybe the police use social media too?

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: a prolific social media user, regularly posting photos of his lavish lifestyle

        A number of cases along those lines have been described in legal blogs such as Underhill's Lowering the Bar.

        It's a variation on the "trail of evidence leading to the suspect's door" theme. And that really happens, too; Underhill mentioned a guy who stole a lot of quarters from an automated carwash and left a trail of them as he tried to lug them all home.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: a prolific social media user, regularly posting photos of his lavish lifestyle

          One winter, my father's school was broken into and a few things stolen. The police really did follow the trail of footprints in the fresh snow to the perpetrators house.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobody…

    …crooks that they may be, said they were smart.

  7. TheProf
    FAIL

    Bang 'im Up

    I'd give him an extra five years for using the hardly aspirational footwear brand as a username.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Bang 'im Up

      In the days of Greta Thunberg and COP27 and the climate crisis, shouldn't he get extra time for the use of a private jet? Or would that set a bad precedent for all those celebrities who really need to fly separately from us plebs?

      (Troll icon, cos climate change is such a divisive issue these days.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bang 'im Up

      For some reason, I was thinking of the food rather than footwear. They're REALLY good. And now I'm hungry.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like