A Nigerian Instagram star helped with Korean hackers to steal more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies in the U.S. and other countries, the U.S Justice Department said.
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, 37, popularly known by his Instagram name “Hushpuppi,” is allegedly conspired with three North Korean computer programmers to steal the funds from companies and banks, including one in Malta, in February 2019, according to the Justice Department.
“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division on February 17. “The Department will continue to confront malicious nation state cyber activity with our unique tools and work with our fellow agencies and the family of norms abiding nations to do the same.”
Hushpuppi who has 2.5 million followers on Instagram, where he would post photos of his luxury cars, somehow found time for still more banking-related crimes, prosecutors say.
He worked with a Canadian-American citizen, Ghaleb Alaumary, who was charged with laundering millions of dollars from ATMs in the U.S. and Pakistan and a bank in India, according to prosecutors.
Alaumary, 37, began cooperating with U.S. authorities in October 2019 and secretly signed a plea agreement last November, according Bloomberg, citing court papers unsealed in Los Angeles on Feb. 17.
This is the latest development and a separate case involving the Nigerian national, Hushpuppi, who was arrested in July last year. Read our previous reports here.
Hushpuppi, who is currently held in Los Angeles, was extradited last year from Dubai to the US and charged with “laundering hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a US law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League soccer club,” according to the Justice Department.