A lawyer for Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, known as Ray Hushpuppi on Instagram, says that the FBI kidnapped Abbas while he was living in Dubai, the BBC reported.
Abbas and Olalekan Jacob Ponle, a cyber-heist suspect, appeared in a Chicago court June 3 and were accused of laundering money from email scams by the FBI, per BBC. Gal Pissetzky, Abbas’s lawyer, said that the FBI acted illegally by “kidnapping” Abba from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. (RELATED: 96-Year-Old Woman Liberated From Auschwitz Death March To Reportedly Meet Family Of Soldier Who Helped Save Her)
Don’t be surprise if Hushpuppi makes it out. The law is about a good argument and availabile substantive evidence. pic.twitter.com/ZkFFP4cCEB
— Bello Shagari (@Belshagy) July 9, 2020
A statement from the Department of Justice said that FBI special agents “obtained custody” of Abbas and that the United Arab Emirates arrested him in June. A Facebook post by Dubai Police said that the FBI arrested and “extradited” Abbas. The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates.
“There was no extradition, there were no legal steps taken, there were no court documents filed, it was simply a call to the FBI,” said Pissetzky to the BBC, “He is not a citizen of the United States, the US had absolutely no authority to take him.”
Police said they found $40 million in cash, 13 luxury cars, 21 computers, 47 smartphones and the addresses of nearly two million alleged victims when both men were arrested, according to the BBC.
“The FBI’s investigation has revealed that Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and that 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,” per the affidavit mentioned in the DoJ statement.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams reportedly cost companies and individuals $1.7 billion in 2019 alone. Pissetzky claims that Abbas earned his money through his social media accounts as an “influencer.”
“He is a social media influencer with millions of followers, with millions of people that respect and loved him, and he loved them, and that’s what he did,” Pissetzky said to BBC.