Ramon Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, a Nigerian Instagram celebrity awaiting sentencing by a United States court, has regretted his involvement in the fraudulent schemes for which he has been detained since June 2020.
Hushpuppi was arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE), in June 2020, and subsequently taken to the US, where he pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2021.
Ahead of his sentencing, Hushpuppi begged for leniency in a three-page hand-written letter he sent to the judge from the Central Valley Annex Prions in McFarland, California.
He specifically expressed regrets for allowing greed to destroy his family name, and apologies for his actions.
Mr Abbas said he would make better choices and friends if he could turn back the hands of time.
“Your honour, I make no excuse for my actions and I take full responsibility for what I have done. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would make an entirely different decision and be more careful in the choices and friends I make.
“Since I have been incarcerated, I have had enough time to reflect on the past and I regret letting greed ruin the good name of my family, my blessing and my name,” he stated.
He apologised to the victims of his crimes, law enforcement agencies, US government’s lawyers, and the judge handling his case.
“I will like to specially apologise to the victims in the case I am involved with from count(s) one to five and more personal to ….and her entire family.
“I apologise to the law enforcement agents who have worked tirelessly to make the world a safer place and to the US Attorney’s entire office for the great work of upholding the law against criminals like myself; And to the court and you, Your Honour, for impartial serving of justice through the years.”
In his emotional-laden letter to the judge, he also apologised to his family members, including his parents and three children aged four, five and eight.
He expressed hope that the children would forgive him by the time they fully understood the unfolding events in future.
“I also apologise to my parents, my family members, who this case has affected their lives, my friends and well-wishers, who I have disappointed, my children even though they may be too young to understand why I’m absent in their lives, I hope someday they see this and forgive me, and I hope God forgives me too,” he said.
The 39-year-old, known for flaunting his opulent lifestyle on social media, was arrested in Dubai, UAE, by special agents including the Emerati police officers and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operatives in June 2020.
He was flown to the US where he was charged with money laundering offences.
The FBI stated in an affidavit said that its investigations revealed that Mr Abbas financed this extravagant lifestyle with proceeds of crime.
Hushpuppi, according to US government, “knowingly combined, agreed, and conspired with multiple other persons (“co-conspirators”) to conduct financial transactions into, within, and outside the United States involving property that represented the proceeds of wire fraud” from at least about 18 January 2019 to 9 June 2020.
His co-conspirators, according to prosecutors, targeted multiple victims and laundered and/or attempted to launder funds fraudulently obtained, and attempted to be fraudulently obtained, through bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) frauds, and other fraud schemes.
The intended victims of the conspiracy were said to include a foreign financial institution, a bank in Malta, a law firm (located in New York State), and two companies located in the United Kingdom.
Mr Abbas knew “these fraudulent schemes included bank cyber-heists, BEC schemes, and other fraud schemes”, the prosecutors said.
The foreign financial institution (a bank in Malta) was an intended victim of a cyber-heist, while the other victims identified above were victims of BEC schemes.
In some BEC schemes involving victim companies in the United Kingdom, Mr Abbas was said to have with one co-conspirator discussed on May 12, 2019, how they anticipated fraudulent payments of approximately £6 million per week.
“Once a victim deposited funds into a bank account, defendant would coordinate with other coconspirators to obtain or move the funds, and then to further launder the funds,” the U.S. government said.
In addition to admitting defendant’s involvement in the schemes intending to defraud the victims, Mr Abbas was also said to have admitted involvement in a scheme to defraud a victim company in Qatar that was building an international school (the Qatari Victim Company) and the owner of that company.
Denying being the organiser of the scheme, he said he was only recruited into it. He maintained that his involvement in it “was very ephemeral”.
He said, even though, the fraudulent scheme robbed the victim of about $800,000, he benefitted only $300,000 from the proceeds.
“I was recruited into an ongoing loan scheme which my involvement was very ephemeral though cost the victim a fraction of a total loss of over $800,000.
“My episode in the scheme amounts to loss of over $300,000 out of total $800,000 loss to victim which I take full responsibility for my actions and entire scheme and make no excuse (for) my mistake of ever getting involved and I have signed for entire loss in this case to be paid with my personal property not just what I profited but entire loss of over $800,000 in my P.S.R.”
But he expressed his willingness to pay full restitution of $1.7 million to all victims including those from whom he claimed not to have derived any gain.