US: Hushpuppi Laundered Funds For North Korean Hackers

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Ramon Abbas, better known as Hushpuppi, the flamboyant social media influencer, has been mentioned to have taken part in a case that involves North Korean hackers.

The United States said that Abbas was part of a conspiracy in a North Korean cyber-enabled heist on a Maltese bank in February 2019.

This was disclosed in a statement released by the US Department of Justice, in which it referred to the attack as a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution, with both the date and amount matching that of the attack on Malta’s Bank of Valleta in February 2019.

According to a report by Forbes, the US 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), describing them as being connected to “North Korean military hacking units” known as Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38).

Abbas is linked to one specific part of their criminal conspiracy, namely money laundering and the attack on a foreign financial institution.

Abbas was linked to the North Korean conspiracy this week when federal prosecutors unsealed a charge against Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Ontario, Canada.

Alaumary pleaded guilty to charges related to his role as a money launderer for the North Korean group filed in November 2020.

The Department of Justice connected Abbas to the North Korean hackers through Alaumary, who they allege conspired with Ray Hushpuppi, to launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”

It was reported that the attack, although largely unsuccessful, was of such seriousness in Malta that the country’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was forced to address parliament in 2019 over what the Times of Malta 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.

It can be recalled that Hushpuppi and his co-conspirators were arrested in Dubai in June 2020 by the International Police (INTERPOL) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over allegations of fraud, hacking, impersonation, bank fraud, scamming and money laundering.

In July 2020, Abbas was charged by the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles with conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from ‘“business email compromise”’ (BEC) frauds and other scams which includes schemes targeted at a US law firm, a premier league soccer club and a foreign bank.

In July Abbas’ then-lawyer, Gal Pissetzky told Forbes that Abbas was not guilty of the charges and described Abbas as “an entrepreneur” who made his money legitimately through “real estate” and his work “promoting brands” as an “Instagram personality.”

Abbas, who is a Nigerian social media influencer with more than 2.5 million followers on Instagram, has built a global following from posting pictures of his lavish spending on cars, watches, designer clothes and private jets.

His criminal trial was due to be heard in late 2020 before the pandemic forced a delay.

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