The United States District Court sitting at the Central District of California on Monday sentenced convicted fraudster, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpupi, to 11 years and three months’ imprisonment after he was found guilty of laundering proceeds of a school financing scam, business email compromise and other fraudulent cyber schemes.
The United States Department of Justice, in a statement on Tuesday, said the Instagram celebrity was also ordered by a federal judge to pay $1.7m in restitution to two fraud victims.
The judgment, which was delivered by Justice Otis Wright II, put an end to Hushpuppi’s trial that started after his arrest in June 2020 in his Dubai, United Arab Emirates hotel apartment.
The Assistant Director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Office, Don Alway, in the statement, described Hushpuppi as “one of the most prolific money launderers in the world.”
Hushpuppi was extradited to the United States on July 3.
He was arrested for defrauding over 1.9 million people, majority of whom were Americans.
He also pleaded guilty to the charges filed against him.
An online news platform, Premium Times, reported that Hushpuppi’s wife, Regina Manneh, and two Imams, wrote separately from Lagos and Borno states to the US district court to beg for leniency.
According to the platform, the letter by the Imam of Imisi-Oluwa Mosque, Lagos, Rasaq Olopede, described Hushpuppi as “a frequent donator” to the mosque.
In another letter, Hudu Abdulrasak of Madrasatul Ahlul-Bait Islamiya, Maiduguri, Borno State, also paid tributes to Hushpuppi for his philanthropic gestures to orphans and widows.
The letters were filed at the US District Court on November 4 in support of the convict’s earlier plea for light sentence.
Our correspondent learnt that Hushpuppi was still being held in the Metropolitan Detention Centre, from where he would be moved to a federal prison.
The Director of Media Relations, United States Attorney’s Office, Thom Mrozek, while responding to an email from our correspondent on Tuesday, said, “He probably has not been transferred to a prison yet. He will serve his sentence in a federal prison somewhere in the United States. The specific facility will be determined by the U. S. Bureau of Prisons, which administers those facilities and has the exclusive authority to determine where a prisoner will be housed.”
A rights lawyer, Abdul Mahmud, said Abbas deserved life jail.
He said, “The conviction of Abass shows how nations elsewhere take the issue of cybercrime as a national security issue, which interrogates the economic interests of the state.
“I wish he had been sentenced to life. We don’t often consider the effects of cybercrime on victims – people who lose their life’s financial worth.”
However, another lawyer, Festus Ogun, said the sentence was commensurate with the crime, adding that the country’s legal system could learn from it.
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CREDIT: PUNCH NEWSPAPERS