Stella Dimoko Korkus.com: How US Investigators Caught Scammers Hushpuppi And Woodberry

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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

How US Investigators Caught Scammers Hushpuppi And Woodberry

The day after his 29th birthday in May, Olalekan Jacob Ponle posted a picture on his Instagram standing next to a bright yellow Lamborghini in Dubai.







"Stop letting people make you feel guilty for the wealth you've acquired," 


he admonished, wearing designer jewellery and Gucci clothes from head to toe.

A month later, the Nigerian, who goes by the name "mrwoodbery" on Instagram, was arrested by Dubai Police for alleged money laundering and cyber fraud.

The most famous of the dozen Africans nabbed in the dramatic operation was 37-year-old Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, "hushpuppi" or just "hush" as he was known by his 2.4 million Instagram followers.

Police in the emirate say they recovered $40m (£32m) in cash, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8m, 21 computers, 47 smartphones and the addresses of nearly two million alleged victims.

Mr Abbas and Mr Ponle were both extradited to the US and charged in a Chicago court with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and laundering hundreds of millions of dollars obtained from cybercrimes.

The two have not yet been asked to plead and are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

"I think there's probably a certain arrogance when they believe they've been careful about maintaining anonymity in their online identities, but they live high on the hog and get careless on social media," said Glen Donath, a former senior prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office in Washington, DC.

It is a spectacular crash for the two Nigerian men who extensively documented their high-flying lifestyle on social media, raising questions about the sources of their wealth.

They unwittingly provided crucial information about their identities and activities for American detectives with their Instagram and Snapchat posts.

They are accused of impersonating legitimate employees of various US companies in "business email compromise" (BEC) schemes and tricking the recipients into wiring millions of dollars into their own accounts.

On Instagram, hushpuppi said he was a real estate developer and had a category of videos called "Flexing" - social media lingo for showing off. But the "houses" were actually a codeword for bank accounts "used to receive proceeds of a fraudulent scheme", investigators allege.

"Our value system in Nigeria needs to be checked, especially the emphasis we place on wealth, no matter how you got it," the economist Ebuka Emebinah told the BBC from New York.

"It's a culture where people believe that results speak for you. We don't place as much emphasis on the process and this has built up over time."
English Premier League team targeted

In April, hushpuppi renewed his lease for another year at the exclusive Palazzo Versace apartments in Dubai under his real name and phone number.

"Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings in my life. Continue to shame those waiting for me to be shamed," 




he captioned an Instagram picture of a Rolls-Royce just a fortnight before he was arrested.

"Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars," the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) said in an affidavit.

In one case, a foreign financial institution allegedly lost $14.7m in a cyber-heist where the money ended up in hushpuppi's bank accounts in multiple countries.

The affidavit also alleged that he was involved in a scheme to steal $124m from an unnamed English Premier League team.

The FBI obtained records from his Google, Apple iCloud, Instagram and Snapchat accounts which allegedly contained banking information, passports, communication with conspirators and records of wire transfers.


'Yahoo boys'


The complaint against Mr Abbas and Mr Ponle describe tactics that resemble what the company calls Vendor Email Compromise tactics, where scammers compromise an email account and study communication between a customer and a vendor.

"The scammer would gather contextual details, as they watched the legitimate email flow," explains Crane Hassold, Agari's senior director of threat research.

"The bad actor would redirect emails to the bad actor's email account, craft emails to the customer that looked like they are coming from the vendor, indicate that the 'vendor' had a new bank account, provide 'updated' bank account information and the money would be gone, at that point."

Mr Ponle, known online as "mrwoodberry", used Mark Kain in emails, according to the FBI.







He is accused of defrauding a Chicago-based company into sending wire transfers of $15.2m. Companies in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York, and California are also said to have fallen victim.

The cash trail allegedly disappeared after his accomplices, called money mules, converted the money into the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

Email scams have become so prevalent globally, and so deeply linked to Nigeria, that the fraudsters have a name in the country: "Yahoo boys".

They try to convince a recipient to wire money to the other side of the world or they go "phishing", stealing a user's identity and personal information for fraud.


The FBI warns against the Nigerian letter or "419" fraud - emails promising large sums of money, called advance fee scams. The "Nigerian prince" trope has become shorthand for deception.

In its internet crime report for 2019, the FBI said it had received more than 460,000 complaints of suspected cyber fraud, with losses of more than $3.5bn reported. More than $300m was recovered, it said.

However, many online fraudsters don't get caught and even fewer end up going to jail.

Mr Donath says the cases are challenging because they happen overseas and tend to be quite sophisticated.
from bbc.com

60 comments:

  1. Na wa oh. Chineke nna..Ike Gwuru m

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ike gwuru nno, i weak.

      Just negodu afa ego ha na akpo ebe a

      Delete
    2. I was ashamed to see it on bbc this morning. I can’t bring myself to read the details. The thought of it makes me feel sick 🤢.

      Delete
  2. Orange is the new Hushpuppy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Crime doesn't pay. All yahoo apologists and yahoo boys will die a painful death.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some girls loves dating them because according to them, They spend lavishly on them. In their heads, they don't know that they'd also get their own share of Karma because there's no way you'd be enjoying the stolen sweats of a person along with your criminal boyfriend and expect to go scout free.

      Delete
  4. Village people really worked on them. Village people don shame una.

    See una life. Una no help village people, so who dey shame na.

    Useless men that knows how to chop life.

    ReplyDelete
  5. E go really be✌️✌️

    ReplyDelete
  6. Many blessings indeed...how about many curses🙄🙄🙄

    ReplyDelete
  7. Na wa o. See how they have spoilt the image of our country

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dude is a genius in his trade but crime is crime. Face the music as a big boy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A real computer genius!

      Delete
    2. This dude is not a genius Abeg. He only had a ‘non-Nigerian’ connect that was doing all the work. All he provided was account to cash out. Anyone can do that. There is nothing special about it. Any bdx guy can do what he did, all he had was connect.

      I hate the way people think he is a genius.

      Delete
    3. YBNL go and scam 2m people including the US government. Have $40m cash at home when you get busted. Then come back to this comment section. Dundee!

      Delete
  9. If they had laid low, maybe, just maybe!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. The problem with Nigerians is that they don’t see scam as a criminal offence like murder or robbery. Hence their audacity to post proceeds of scam on the net without fear or let .

    ReplyDelete
  11. They keep tarnishing the country's image. This is the reason why foreigners will continue to have trust issues in terms of having a business transactions with a Nigerian, It is well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As in ehh, Okwa on a very high and loud key.

      Delete
    2. True! See how they kept adding Nigerian to his title😭

      Delete
    3. Their racist and bitter asses won't let that part of him be, They'd publicize it clearly and bold enough for the world to see. If it was a Nigerian doing the extra ordinary great thing, the title will be, American born or British born bla bla bla!!!

      Delete
  12. The shamer is now the shamed🙄

    ReplyDelete
  13. But,the witches and wizard told u,u were making mouth,that ur baba was lying to u abi, telling u nothing dey happen...u see ur life.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If you have ever been scammed, your view on this hushpuppi's arrest will definitely be different.

    Just call me 🤙

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear! I would have called you but I don't have airtime 😍

      Delete
  15. Their greed was their downfall. They wanted to keeping on chopping life, @the expense of others. Let them do their time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thankful the spirit of greed possessed and led to their doomsday.

      Hi boo have a beautiful evening.

      Delete
    2. Hey Choco baibay, how have you been? I'm thankful they were caught o. Imagine scamming people, and then flaunting it online.

      Delete
  16. They have lived ,enjoyed,flex,flew private jet that will last them for 20years..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All that and to end up in a foreign jail -MCC Chicago at that!, living with cockroaches and rodents in your jail cell-sharing toilets with all kinds of putrid smells around you. Federal prisons here are hard on blacks-imagine a foreign black who has defrauded the country.

      Delete
    2. What he will suffer the next 20years in a Foreign prison...will wipe that memory away. He will wish He never scammed people of their HARD EARNED MONEY.
      let him get there first 🙊🙊

      Delete
  17. He should have laid low but was busy showing himself and they were not givers they only took from people,hush the braggart see your ynash in d open

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you lowkey in support of crime ??

      Delete
    2. So you support the fact that he's scamming people, you're only bothered that his show off put him in trouble. We are done in this country.

      Delete
    3. Naawao!
      See eeh, I truly try to avoid persons with your mindset@16:15 & Lyndy 15:56!

      Keep supporting criminality.

      😍🥰😍🥰😍 to Chocolat Noir and Anne K.

      Delete
  18. In GEJ's voice Stealing is not corruption.

    Hushpuppi nwoke ike n'eri ego oyibo, analeee, kedu ije?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lmao
      Whatever this igbo means it sure sounds funny 😂😂😂

      Delete
    2. Ije dizi na US prison ebe Ana eme ife orange color ihotago!🤣...

      Delete
  19. Wow why waste such talent for crime,he will pay for his sins

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am just laughing. My guy who has legitimate business but who used to mimic Hushpuppi life has gone mute on social media. No more posting and flexing. He used to post his police orderlies online too for status symbol. Person wey show himself go dey blame village people wey kasala burst. Some people's brain have to be reset by force

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Legi wetin. He probably uses his business to launder money. A clean heart fears no accusation

      Delete
  21. The enemy we should be scared of is inside of us but we are busy fighting imaginary enemies. Hushpuppi and Woodberry's enemies are Hushpuppi and Woodberry. They have nobody to blame but themselves. Woodberry was lying low until he decided to go public to copy Hushpuppi. LOL. Inside life

    ReplyDelete
  22. Alas! His prayers backfired and he's the one that was shamed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tell you man, It really backfired.

      Delete
    2. He called The Lord into his matter.. .And his prayer was found wanting... So he was given the right answer

      Delete
  23. Everyday for the thief one day for the owner.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anon 16.32, any person who shows off wealth for status on social media in not involved in legitimate business. Running a successful legitimate business in Nigeria drains to the extent that it leaves no space, time, or energy for fiddling. Anybody going low because of the recent arrests has something to hide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One big Guinness for you

      Delete
    2. Hmmmmmm....... you are a very wise person. I like people who think intelligently like you.

      Delete
    3. Eziokwu kà ikwuru 17:30👌

      Delete
    4. He is legit but seriously famzing Hushpuppi. I guess he chose the wrong role model. It happens just like some people even adults call themselves Marlians

      Delete
    5. It's obvious you all don't know Mr Zaza

      Delete
  25. "$40m (£32m) in cash, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8m, 21 computers, 47 smartphones and the addresses of nearly two million alleged victims"
    Na only one man, money is never enough o

    ReplyDelete

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