Wales

Instagram scammer Ramon Abbas jailed for fraud

Ramon Abbas, a Nigerian social media influencer who made millions from online scams, has been jailed in the US for 11 years.

Who is Ramon Abbas, aka Ray Hushpuppi?

instagramRamon Abbas was a hugely popular social media influencer from Nigeria. He would regularly show off his wealth by posting images of him in front of brand-new expensive cars as well as shopping bags from high end retailers on his Instagram account.

Unfortunately, his wealth was created from online fraud and laundering money through multiple financial institutions across the world. A considerable amount of his fortune was generated using business email compromise scams, convincing business leaders to transfer millions which was then laundered and transferred to multiple multinational bank accounts, including North Korea.

What are business email compromise scams (BEC Scams)?

Business email compromise scams are a type of email phishing scam. Cybercriminals target users of a company, organisation or corporation, pretending to be a legitimate business contact. Their ultimate goal is to convince individuals to transfer funds.

They do this by:

  • Investigating a company and its contacts, either by sourcing information online, legally or illegally, to build a profile of a company and who they do business with.
  • Pretending to be a contact, such as a CEO, either by modifying the email address slightly so that it looks legitimate, and then ‘groom’ an individual in a company into believing they are who they say they are.
  • Convincing the individual to transfer funds to their account by making them think they are conducting a legitimate business transaction which is in fact totally made up.

This kind of scam is also not limited to businesses. Homeowners are also targeted via sophisticated emails which look legitimate, convincing many to hand money to fraudsters like Ramon Abbas.

How do I protect myself as a business?

  • Educate your employees on what to look out for in email scams. Check the domains of emails that are asking for money.
  • If in doubt, no matter how slight, call the company, organisation or bank asking for money.
  • Do not click on any links that ask you to “update your password”, “verify your details” or “pay now” unless you are absolutely sure you know the source of the email. Again, if in doubt, call the company, organisation or bank asking you to take action.
  • Setup MFA / 2FA (Multi Factor Authentication / 2 Factor Authentication) if you are able to. This helps stop unauthorised access to your account, allowing scammers to find out more about you and your contacts.
  • Use Get Safe Online’s Check a website for Business to see if a website is likely to be legitimate or not before visiting.

How do I protect myself as an individual?

  • When you receive an email that looks to be from a company, check the name and the email address thoroughly. Even the slightest change, be a – between two words, or a different domain extension (.com, .net, .co.uk) could show signs of coming from an illegitimate source.
  • If the email is asking for money, stop and think. Is this a legitimate request? If in doubt, call the company, organisation or bank that is asking for money.
  • Remember that banks will never ask for personal information or transaction information via an e-mail.
  • Do not click on any links that ask you to “update your password”, “verify your details” or “pay now” unless you are absolutely sure you know the source of the email. Again, if in doubt, call the company, organisation or bank asking you to take action.
  • Setup MFA / 2FA (Multi Factor Authentication / 2 Factor Authentication) if you are able to. This helps stop unauthorised access to your account, allowing scammers to find out more about you and your contacts.
  • Use Get Safe Online’s Check a website to see if a website is likely to be legitimate or not before visiting.

With these simple steps, we can all work together to stop fraudsters like Ramon Abbas from causing financial ruin for many while making a fortune from illegal activity.

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