Lawyer to Hushpuppi whose real name is Ramon Abbas has told Forbes that his client is “an entrepreneur” who made his money legitimately through “real estate” and his work “promoting brands” as an “Instagram personality.”
Hushpuppi’s lawyer is Gal Pissetzky of Pissetzky & Berliner.
Hushpuppi was recently arrested by police in Dubai over internet fraud, with incriminating evidence amounting to N169 billion.
Hushpuppi has over 2.5 million followers on Instagram.
Forbes says it does not currently include Hushpuppi on its list of the World’s Billionaires.
Hushpuppi has built a global following from posting pictures of his lavish spending on cars, watches, designer clothes, and private jets. His lifestyle has made him a popular figure on a variety of social media platforms including Snapchat and Instagram. Abbas’ lawyer tells Forbes that his client is “an entrepreneur” who made his money legitimately through “real estate” and his work “promoting brands” as an “Instagram personality.”
Abbas’ wealth and fame has also seen him rub shoulders with the new-monied elite. The influencer is seen on Instagram with Chelsea’s Premier League and England star Tammy Abraham, and Aston Villa’s England U-21 star Ezri Konsa — both players signed shirts for Abbas, “To my big bro” posted in February this year.
However, Abbas’s life of luxury was put on hold in late June after the 37-year-old was arrested in Dubai, UAE, and arrived in the U.S. on Friday July 3 to face criminal charges over allegations he has made “hundreds of millions of dollars” from business email compromise frauds and other scams.
The FBI’s affidavit alleges that Abbas “conspired to launder funds stolen in a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution.” The date and amount mentioned in the affidavit matches that of the attack on Malta’s Bank of Valletta in February 2019. The attack was of such seriousness in Malta that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was forced to address parliament over what the Times of Malta described as the “creation of false international payments that saw €13 million transferred to banks in four countries.” The amounts were the amounts reportedly “traced” and “reversed” and none of the bank’s customers lost their money. The U.S. Department of Justice did not name Bank of Valletta in the affidavit and says it is unable to give further details. The Bank of Valletta has not responded to emails from Forbes.
The FBI also alleges a New York-based law firm was defrauded out of approximately $922,800 through a combination of computer hacking and social engineering to gain access to a business’ email account, send fraudulent emails to receive an unauthorized wire transfer of money. Abbas is accused of laundering $396,050 of the funds alongside two co-conspirators, one of whom was in Los Angeles at the time.