IT News Nigeria
Lawyer to Ramon Olorunwa Abbas – known to his 2.5 million Instagram followers as Ray Hushpuppi, told the BBC that his client, who posts on Instagram about his extravagant lifestyle, was not a criminal and had made his money legitimately.
Ray Hushpuppi was already popular on Instagram for his luxurious lifestyle documented exhaustively on his page but he has gained another 100,000 followers since his dramatic arrest.
Gal Pissetzky is quoted as saying that “He is a social media influencer with millions of followers, with millions of people that respect and loved him, and he loved them, and that’s what he did. In today’s society, that’s a business,” he said.
Mr Pissetzky admits that he is not “100% familiar” with social media and his children consider him too old but he knows “that’s how people make money today”.
The Chicago defence lawyer’s argument that Hushpuppi was paid by designer brands for promotion has set the stage for what promises to be a long trial in American courts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accuses Mr Abbas, 37, of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from frauds known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and other scams.
It is the latest high-profile fraud case involving a Nigerian national in the United States but his lawyer says the US had no authority to transport him from Dubai.
“In my opinion, the FBI and the government here acted illegally when they kidnapped him from Dubai without any legal process to do so,” Mr Pissetzky told the BBC.
“There was no extradition, there were no legal steps taken, there were no court documents filed, it was simply a call to the FBI. He is not a citizen of the United States, the US had absolutely no authority to take him,” his lawyer says.
But the Dubai police said in a Facebook post that the FBI director had thanked them for extraditing the two men.
“You’ll have to ask them about why they called it an extradition,” the US Department of Justice (DoJ) spokesman responded in an email.
“If Dubai wanted to expel him, they should have expelled him back to Nigeria. I’ve never heard of anything like that. That is the real story here.”
A complaint against him filed in court accuses Mr Abbas of leading a transnational network of cybercriminals whose targets included a US law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League football club.
Email scams typically try to steal an individual’s personal information, or to defraud them by impersonating a legitimate business contact and tricking the target into sending money into a wrong account. – bbc