Consider how many people check their social media accounts daily to admire some seemingly random online influencer.
What does it take to become an influencer?
Becoming an online influencer is a journey that involves commitment, sincerity, and a thorough understanding of your target audience. It is all about connecting with your fans and offering quality information in your chosen sector.
OK, now let us delve deeper into the realm of influencers; there are genuine ones and not so genuine ones; are the latter more likely to draw a larger audience?
You may be wondering why, and the answer is simple: they want you to sigh on their postings while they strategize how to swindle you or someone else.
Still looking at how you might contribute to someone's rich lifestyle of crime, fraud, and deception.
Your intellect is the sole safe device that will keep you from groaning and becoming one of those who are conned to the person who will maintain their account intact.
When I was in the service, especially during combat, I had my weapon "locked" and "unlocked," but only my brain dictated whether to shoot or not.
Who is the Gucci Billionaire?!
Ray Hushpuppi, a Nigerian social media influencer who flaunted a lavish lifestyle fueled by his efforts to launder millions of dollars in stolen funds, was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison in Los Angeles on Monday.
Ramon Abbas, 40, was also sentenced by a federal judge to pay $1.7 million in restitution to two fraud victims, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.
How a well-known Instagram influencer became the world's greatest fraudster, stealing millions of dollars.
The FBI considers influencer Ramon Abbas, better known as Hushpuppy to his 2.5 million Instagram followers, to be one of the world's top scammers.
Abbas is the mastermind behind the largest cyber robberies, which resulted in millions of dollars being stolen. He started off as a humble "Yahoo Boy" in Nigeria and climbed to become the infamous "Gucci Billionaire," living in unimaginable luxury in Dubai until his arrest in 2020.
His career began in Oworonchoki, Nigeria, a poor beach hamlet north-east of Lagos. His father was a taxi driver, while his mother worked at a neighbouring market.
Abbasa was one of the "Yahoo Boys," a group of "romance scammers" named after Nigeria's first free service provider. They designed a scheme to steal people's identities. They would choose lonely persons yearning for love and defraud them by assuming new identities.
Once they had built a relationship under a false name, they would begin asking their online "lovers" for money. Abbas, like many Yahoo Boys scammers, set out to "broaden his horizons" in the sector. Abaz was one of several persons who travelled to Malaysia. He arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 2014, and then in Dubai in 2017.
Hackers from North Korea
That is when his Instagram photos, as well as the crimes he committed, became considerably more serious.
Abigail Mamo, CEO of the Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises, spoke about the fraud that has wreaked devastation on the island.
Because the payment method did not work, full trolleys were detected at cash registers in places.
Members of the Chamber of Commerce revealed how they wired money to international suppliers via the bank platform in Valletta, but the money never arrived.
According to Mamo, tens of thousands of euros were at stake.
The bank was successful in recovering ten million euros.
Around that time, Abbas sent a message to a fellow con artist that simply said, "Damn it."
The response that followed showed that another hoax was being planned.
The next one will take place in a few weeks. We will tell you when everything is finished. It's a shame they broke in because, as stated in the FBI's answer to Abbas' message, there would be a substantial payout here.
The largest con, but Abbas was told to open a bank account in Mexico in May 2019. A Premier League soccer team and a British firm each promised him 100 million pounds. The names of the club and the business are not mentioned in the court filings.
To commit the fraud, the "Business Email Compromise" (BEC) was to be employed. BEC intercepts funds by sending phoney emails that appear to be from the source. Only one letter or digit would be different.
In those communications, the scammers would pose as suppliers who were expecting payment. Typically, they would say that they had changed business banks and advised the monies to be transferred to another account.
The victims frequently did not suspect anything and transferred the money with a single mouse click, believing that it had gone to the account of long-time pals.
However, the football club fraud was revealed when a British bank refused to transfer payments to a Mexican bank account.
I am unable to send money from the United Kingdom to Mexico, brother. The associate texted Abbas, "Somehow, I always get hacked."
According to the BBC, no Premier League club has admitted to being a victim of fraud. Isn't it interesting?
Professionals who have not repented
According to John Sheeland, the head of fraud for the United Kingdom's Organised Crime Agency, the criminal network was difficult to track down because of the jurisdiction. Barney Almazar, a Dubai lawyer, confirmed the same.
Eight of his 25 clients in the UAE are Britons, and they all believe they are victims of Hashpapi's BEC scheme.
We can't be certain Hashpapi is in charge of everything. However, examining the bank accounts reveals that they are all linked to the evidence uncovered by Dubai police while searching Khashpapi's residence, according to Almazar.
One British victim claims he was duped out of £500,000, was forced to flee the UAE, and is now being prosecuted in Dubai for debt incurred as a result.
His clients are aware that he was a victim of fraud. They do, however, demand their money back. My client has spent nearly his entire life in the Emirates, but he has no idea how to get back there. His family is still in the Emirates. According to attorney Almazar, he is concerned that he may be evicted immediately.
The attorney believes that there are many more victims of Instagram influencers, but many of them are embarrassed and hesitant to disclose the occurrence to authorities.
This is a very clever deception. Professionals are among the victims. According to Almazar, many people are hesitant to admit they were tricked.
School fraud in Qatar
Abbas's final large fraud came immediately before his arrest in Dubai in June 2020. It was typical identity theft, identical to what he had done earlier in Nigeria.
He duped the victim, a Qatari businessman looking for $15 million to build a new school in Qatar, by posing as a New York banker.
Between December 2019 and February 2020, Abbas and his network of con artists from Kenya, Nigeria, and the United States scammed the victim of more than $1 million. Some of the money was laundered by purchasing a costly watch for an incredible $230,000.
The gang system began to fracture quickly. One of them voiced displeasure with the amount of money given to him and threatened to divulge everything. Abbas was determined to put him to sleep. He addressed a message to Abi Kyari, a buddy who works as a police officer in Nigeria, expressing his intention to "stamp the little one so well that he remembers it for the rest of his life."
"I want to invest money so that the little one ends up behind bars for a long time," the note said.
Following that, it is thought that Kyari detained the "traitor of the group" on the basis of fabricated evidence and imprisoned him in a Nigerian prison for a month in deplorable conditions. As a result, he is wanted by the US, but he has denied any involvement in Abbas' activities. He is still at large and has refused to speak with BBC reporters.
Hushpuppi continues to be popular
BEC fraud is widespread around the world. This approach alone was used to steal more than $1.8 billion in 2020, according to FBI data.
According to the indictment, Abbas is accused of stealing over 24 million dollars, but many believe he stole even more.
On Instagram, Abbas "changed his profession" from "Gucci millionaire" to "real estate dealer" eight months before the crime.
Abbas was jailed in the UAE following a police search on his Dubai house in June 2021.
Abbas also admitted to laundering money "through bank accounts all over the world," as well as "a number of other cyber and business email compromise schemes that resulted in losses totalling more than $24 million."
During the operation, Dubai Police discovered around $41 million in cash, 13 expensive cars worth approximately $6.8 million, phone and computer evidence, more than 100,000 fraud files, and the names of approximately 2 million potential victims.
He was apprehended alongside another Nigerian, Olalekan Jacob Ponle alias "Woodberry," in a joint operation with US agents known as "Foxhunt 2," according to Dubai police.
Abbas was handed over to FBI agents before being flown to Los Angeles to face charges of money laundering through cybercrime.
Despite admitting guilt to money laundering in April 2021, Hashpapi's social media accounts are still active and acquiring new followers.
Nobody knows why his social media profiles are still live. According to Instagram, Hashpapi's account was reviewed, and the decision was made not to deactivate the profile. When a reporter contacted Snapchat, the account was swiftly deactivated.
According to Dr. Oyenuga, Hashpapi is still well-known and regarded as a role model by many.
Many young people in our country struggle to get by each day. When parents see a young person achieve in life, they experience a sense of strength. I've seen parents contemplating how to train their children to be Yahoo Boys, adds Oyenuga.
According to Seje, everyone who knows Hashpapi is aware of the crime he committed, but they "understand" him.
Nobody chooses to remain poor, so when they see someone else becoming affluent, they pray to God that it will also happen to them, according to Saje.
Abbas was sentenced to pay $922,857 in restitution to the legal company and $809,983 in compensation to the victim in Qatar. He was also sentenced to 135 months in federal prison.