Ramon Abbas aka Hushpupi and globally known as “Billionaire Gucci Master” has recently been linked to another cybercrime as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believes he laundered funds for North Korean hackers.
(Wow! Hush is international, no cap!)
You recall hushpupi used be one of Nigeria biggest lifestyle influencers with over 2.5 million followers on Instagram as he is fond of flaunting his acquired enormous wealth on social media before he was nabbed by the FBI in 2020 and was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles with conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from “business email compromise” (BEC) frauds and other scams.
According to Forbes, the U.S Department of Justice linked Hushpupi to working with North Korean hackers who launder funds stolen from a Maltese bank.
According to a statement released by the Justice Department, Abbas took part in a “North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.” In a July statement, the Justice Department referred to the attack as “a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution.” Both the date and amount match that of the attack on Malta’s Bank of Valletta in February 2019.
According to Hushpupi former lawyer, Gal Pissetzky, speaking with Forbes in July, he said Hushpupi was not guilty of the charges and described Hushpupi as “an entrepreneur” who made his money legitimately through “real estate” and his work “promoting brands” as an “Instagram personality.”
On Wednesday, Abbas’ name emerged among details of a larger international criminal conspiracy involving so-called North Korean military hackers involved in “a series of destructive cyberattacks, to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies,” according to the Justice Department statement on the new indictment.
FBI Deputy Director, Paul Abbate said the unsealed indictment of Wednesday expands the FBI’s 2018 charges for the “unprecedented cyberattacks conducted by the North Korean regime.” Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division added, “As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers.”
The U.S. is specifically accusing North Koreans Jon Chang Hyok, 31, Kim Il, 27, and Park Jin Hyok, 36, of being members of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a military intelligence agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The three North Koreans are described in the statement as being connected to “North Korean military hacking units” known in the cybersecurity community as Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38).
Hushpupi is linked to one specific part of the “broad array of criminal cyber activities undertaken by the conspiracy,” namely money laundering and the attack on a “foreign financial institution. A spokesperson for the Bank of Valletta confirmed to Forbes that it was the target of a cyber incident in February 2019.
Hushpupi dealings with the North Korean hackers were revealed by Ghaleb Alaumary of Ontario, Canada who 37 years old after the U.S prosecutor unsealed a charge against him. Alaumary pleads guilty to charges related to his role as a money launderer for the North Korean group filed in November 2020. U.S Department of Justice believes Hushpupi conspired with Alaumary to “launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”
Although the attack was unsuccessful but raised security alarm in Malta making the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat forcefully addresses the parliament in 2019 over the Times of Malta he described as the “creation of false international payments that saw €13 million transferred to banks in four countries.” The amounts were reportedly “traced” and “reversed” and none of the bank’s customers lost their money.
Back in June, Hushpupi, 38 was arrested in his home in Dubai and was handed over to the U.S to face criminal charges over the allegation that he made “hundreds of millions of dollars” from email compromise frauds among other scams. Due to the pandemic, Hushpupi Court trial was delayed in 2020.
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