Before leaving Nigeria for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the year none of his former neighbours could ascertain, Ramon Olorunwa Abass aka Hushpuppi was a known figure in Olorunfunmi, Odo-Eran, Ekore neighbourhood in Oworonsoki, Kosofe local government area of Lagos.
He lived on Ogunyomi street (adjacent the Lagos-Ojo expressway) in Oworonsoki for many years and sources told Neusroom it was there he started his internet fraud enterprise.
Oworonsoki is partly a slum community on the edge of Lagos separated from the rich dominated Lagos Island by the 11km long third mainland bridge which stretches across the Lagos Lagoon. Close to Oworo is Gbagada, another community populated by lower and upper middle class residents.
The workings of his business was a mystery to many of his more than two million Instagram followers who hailed his flamboyant lifestyle. Before his arrest on June 10, 2020, Hushpuppi portrayed himself as a symbol of hope and inspiration to many Nigerian youths, a fashion and style artist with a penchant for rocking the latest and most expensive designer wears. A man in extreme wealth who rose from living in Lagos slums to sleeping in the best hotels in Dubai and flying in private jets.
Millions of young people, desperate for inspiration and role models, looked up to him. But many remained suspicious.
“I am you and you are me. I represent every underprivileged kid of the world and especially of Nigeria and of Lagos and of Bariga and of Oworonsoki…Now, you see I represent you?” He wrote in his ‘Letter to the Ghetto Kid’ in May 2017.
“I rose from the hood and decided to do the things my forefathers never did.” He was right, no one in his lineage has ever done what has set him up as one of the world’s most infamous fraudsters.
The celebrity hacker, Hushpuppi, with luxury bags as he prepares to board a chartered private jet. Photo: Instagram/Hushpuppi Designer: Oludare Ogunbowale.
Defying the rain on Wednesday July 8, 2020, I took a trip to Ekore to see the Oworonsoki neighbourhood where the 37-year-old, likely to go down in history as one of Nigeria’s most successful con artists, started out.
The cab driver drove me through Otunba Bakare to the end of Olorunfunmi where I ended the trip, walked round before taking a motorcycle back to Odo-Eran, in the heart of Oworonsoki. You do not need to be told that it is a forgotten area, the sight is enough conviction that it is not on the government’s radar for development anytime soon. The residents of Odo-Eran live in squalor. Shanty homes are occupied by many scavengers with heaps of scraps packed in front of the buildings.
After touring the community for more than 30 minutes, I called my host, an old school mate, who lives on Olorunfunmi street, one of the ‘urban’ parts of Oworonsoki. We stood in front of the cyber cafe where Hushpuppi was said to have been a regular customer while living in the neighbourhood. The owner was too busy to talk to me.
After standing there for about one hour avoiding the rain, we were later joined by two other young men. And the Hushpuppi discussion started. One of the young men who touted himself as ‘number one information carrier’ in the area, agreed to take me to Ogunyomi street, but it would come at a cost, his price was N500. Without hesitating I agreed to pay. Others soon started making demands for their own pay as they agreed to lead me to Ogunyomi street. Navigating from the corridor of one house to another we found our way to Ogunyomi.
The house he lived in is a ‘face me I face you’ bungalow owned by the father of one of his friends and closest ally Sikiru Adekoya. I was told several stories of how he had nothing when he was living on Ogunyomi street, but they were surprised when they suddenly started seeing him displaying wealth on social media.
The charges against Hushpuppi. Designer:Oludare Ogunbowale.
“I know him (Hushpuppi) very well, he used to send me bread and beans when he was living here,”
one of the young men who would not like his name mentioned told me. This source says he was born and bred on Ogunyomi street and Hushpuppi was like a brother figure to him for “more than 12 years”.
From my conversations with some of the youngmen in the neighbourhood, I became aware of the underlying issues some of them have with Hushpuppi. They are not too bothered about his arrest, and care less about Nigeria’s global image and the war on cyber fraud, which has continued to portray Nigerians as fraudsters in the international community.
The millions of dollars lost by millions of victims is not on the list of their concerns. For them it is about the accused’s ‘chop alone’ lifestyle. They claimed he did not help many of his guys in the house he lived in Oworonshoki.
Sikiru and Hushpuppi strike a pose in front of the white Rolls Royce acquired by the ‘celebrity hacker’ in April. Photo: Instagram/officialpac02 Designer: Oludare Ogunbowale.
“He is very stingy, he doesn’t wire money to his guys, but he can pay for their flight tickets to come visit him in Dubai, take them out and treat them to lavish nightclub life, but he doesn’t give money,”
Shola, one of the residents said.
The only person they claimed Hushpuppi ‘helped’ in the neighbourhood is Sikiru Adekoya who joined him in Dubai about two years ago. I was informed Sikiru’s wife and kid still live on Ogunyomi street but I won’t be allowed to see them because it is believed that Sikiru has also been arrested during the operation Fox Hunt 2 that led to the arrest of Hushpuppi and other members of his team in Dubai.
One of my sources gave me Sikiru’s Instagram handle (@officialpac02). When I checked, it shared similarities with Hushpuppi’s page. A novice may take the handle for Hushpuppi’s second IG page with the flagrant display of wealth, exotic cars and photos taken with Hushpuppi that littered the timeline. His last post was on May 31, 2020.
When I checked the photos of the 10 other suspects arrested alongside Hushpuppi, Sikiru’s image appeared conspicuously above Hushpuppi’s head. A confirmation that Sikiru is one of the ‘unknown’ suspects arrested by the police and may still be in Dubai prison. The Dubai Police is yet to respond to Neusroom’s email requesting information.
In some of the videos on Hushpuppi’s IG page, Sikiru is believed to be the voice behind the camera filming and hyping him. When Hushpuppi added a white Rolls Royce to his fleet of luxury cars early this year, Sikiru was the voice behind the camera filming the unveiling of the car.
If Hushpuppi is the King of Gucci, Sikiru has to be the Prince and heir apparent. He has all the features of Hushpuppi, albeit on a smaller scale. A somewhat mini version of Hushpuppi, you could call him Hushpuppi-lite. On his Instagram page with 19,000 followers, less than one percent of Hushpuppi’s over 2 million followers, are photos with stars like Romelu Lukaku and Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh (one of his biggest fans, constantly liking his IG posts).
There are images from July 15, 2017, showing Sikiru and Tonto together in a car, and at a hotel lobby in Lagos. Could there be a link between Hushpuppi and Tonto and Sikiru was only a front man? In 2017, there were unconfirmed reports that the Nollywood actress was in a relationship with the suspected fraudster, a claim she denied. In his IG posts, Sikiru is always praising Hushpuppi for taking him out of poverty.
“If I gat him at my back @hushpuppi I gat the world at my back,”
he wrote in an Instagram post where he shared his photo with Hushpuppi in March 2019.
Sikiru and Tonto Dikeh at the lobby of a hotel in Lagos, July 2017. Photo: Instagram/officialpac02
Facing a possible 20 years sentence in the U.S, Hushpuppi’s fleet, wardrobe filled with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Versace and many other luxury wears are of no use to him now. He will dress in the orange uniform worn by U.S inmates. The type adorned by Naira Marley (one of his many celebrity buddies) in the song ‘Soapy’.
In the video of his arrest that looked like an MNet action movie, Hushpuppi looked stunned as his hands were cuffed behind him. His arrest will not rid the world of the many aspiring ‘Hushpuppies’ who throng his IG page daily to declare their admiration for him and his ‘hustle’. There are still many who are inspired by Abass, Woodbery and Invictus Obi’s story and want to enjoy the ‘good life’ they enjoyed before the arms of the law eventually caught up with them. The war against cyber fraud appears to have no end. But the noose will continue to tighten as authorities across borders collaborate to bring criminals to book.
As I left my hosts in Oworonsoki, I thought of the lives of poor young Nigerians, their chances of escaping poverty, and the available routes for them. And I realized the government will have to provide better education, create more jobs, and aggressively sell the Nigerian dream – if it exists – to the over 80 million young boys and girls growing up now and trying to make up their minds who to become: Hushpuppi? Or Deskid Wayne, another suspected internet fraudster who displays wealth on social media? See it’s not likely you’ve heard the other name before. We need new role models. The ones we currently have? We need to celebrate them with every opportunity we have.
IN OWORONSOKI WHERE HUSHPUPPI LIVED BEFORE LEAVING NIGERIA, HIS ARREST DIVIDES OPINION
He dreamt of owning two motorcycles, a commercial bus and marrying the daughter of a food vendor. Ramon Olorunwa Abass aka Hushpuppi didn’t want too much. His dream, however, grew bigger when he started going to Lagos Island from his Oworonsoki residence in Lagos Mainland to sell used clothes.
One testimony that keeps resonating from those who knew him, before the celebrity lifestyle beckoned, is his enterprising spirit. Many described him as an unrelenting hustler who wanted the best for himself and his family. But how he became so big and famous in a short while is a mystery no one has been able to explain. Even after his arrest by the Dubai Police on June 10, 2020 for alleged N168 billion global cybercrime, many can’t stop wondering: ‘How did he do it?’
“In 2019 alone, the FBI recorded $1.7 billion in losses by companies and individuals victimised through business email compromise scams, the type of scheme Mr. Abbas is charged with conducting from abroad,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
The 37-year-old rose from a Lagos slum to become known across the world as a cyber fraud kingpin, and Nigeria’s most high-profile fraud suspect since the arrest of Obinwanne Okeke aka Invictus Obi the self-styled CEO of Invictus Group, arrested in August 2019 for $11 million BEC fraud.
Hushpuppi is slightly the opposite of Obi. Unlike Abass the rockstar and Gucci lover, Obi presented himself as a business executive in suit and tie, giving TED talks, granting media interviews and gracing the front page of magazines.
Education appears to be the difference: Obi holds a degree in International Studies and Forensic Criminology and Masters of International Relations and Counter-Terrorism Studies from Monash University in Australia. Hushpuppi is only known to have attended Command Children School, as he revealed in an interview.
Hushpuppi and Invictus Obi who is also standing trial in the U.S for $11m BEC scam. Photo: Instagram Designer: Oludare Ogunbowale
Obi’s lifestyle left almost no room for suspicion – to the world he was a young businessman and a pride of Africa. Abass was loud and flamboyant and was not known with any credible business venture. The two men have something in common, however: an unquenching thirst for fame and publicity. They want to be seen and known everywhere.
“I post a few of these things so that someone can see my page someday and decide not to give up,” Hushpuppi wrote in a post.
Their desperation for fame opened the wall to a series of investigations into their mysterious business activities. What made them so big?
In Oworonsoki where Hushpuppi lived before leaving Nigeria for Dubai, some residents who spoke with Neusroom are divided over his arrest. Though jittery and very careful about discussing Hushpuppi’s life with ‘strangers’ over fears they could be arrested, the very few who spoke on condition of anonymity want him jailed, while some are sympathetic to his plight and want his sentence reduced.
Ogunyomi street, off Lagos-Ojoo expressway, Oworonsoki, where Hushpuppi is said to have lived for many years before leaving Nigeria. Photo: Michael Orodare. Designer: Oludare Ogunbowale.
“Many people here don’t like him. Aside from showing off on Instagram, he has not done anything to help people who suffered with him,” one resident Shola said.
Shola lives two streets away from Ogunyomi street where Hushpuppi lived, and claims he knew the fraud suspect long before he left the country. After some naira notes had exchanged hands, Shola took Neusroom correspondent Michael Orodare to the ‘face me I face you’ apartment where Hushpuppi lived before he left the country. “Even in the house where he lived, those who they lived together are still there. How can you claim to be a billionaire and not help your guys?” he wondered.
“I like him, and I want him freed but he has displayed too much wealth on the internet,” says Jamiu (not real name) who sees Hushpuppi as a hero and does not believe he has committed an unprecedented crime. “There is no Yahoo Boy as rich as Hushpuppi,” he boasted. A popular food vendor in the neighborhood, I was informed, has been furious and raining curses on security operatives since she heard about the arrest of Hushpuppi. He was her benefactor and she does not want him in jail.
10 things Hushpuppi’s N168 billion loot can do. Designer: Oludare Ogunbowale.
“When he (Hushpuppi) was here he patronised the food vendor, and even the last time he visited, he gave her a lot of money,” the men who took Neusroom correspondent to the street said. “This is not a good time to speak with her about Hushpuppi, she is still in grief, maybe you can come back some other time.”
If those claims are true, the sign of money Hushpuppi reportedly gave the food vendor does not show on her business. Her shop which is made of wood sits beside the road and has no sign that the owner had seen good money.
Hushpuppi was arrested alongside Olalekan Ponle aka Woodbery and 11 other suspects in a coordinated early morning raid codenamed Fox Hunt 2 consisting of officers from the FBI, Interpol and Dubai police. More than 150 million dirham (N15 billion) cash, 21 laptops, 47 phones, 15 USB drives, 5 hard drives, 119,580 files, and 13 luxury cars were seized by detectives when they raided the Dubai apartments.
He was extradited to the U.S with Woodbery on July 2 where they will be facing trial.
Police say they found the email addresses of nearly two million victims on the computers and hard drives seized from Hushpuppi. Among the many accusations against him is the theft of $922,857 stolen through a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam.
According to the FBI “The affidavit also alleges that Abbas conspired to launder funds stolen in a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution in February 2019, in which the stolen money was sent to bank accounts around the world. Abbas allegedly provided a co-conspirator with two bank accounts in Europe that Abbas anticipated each would receive €5 million (about $5.6 million) of the fraudulently obtained funds.
The unnamed financial institution is the Bank of Valetta in Malta. In his years of alleged criminal career, he is believed to have earned about N170 billion in cash proceeds from his cybercrime activities. When he finally appears before the U.S Federal Court in Los Angeles, the scale of his atrocities will be laid bare. Some may come surprising.
While the identities of the 10 other accomplices arrested alongside two ‘celebrity hackers’ Ramon Olorunwa Abass aka Hushpuppi and Olalekan Jacob Ponle aka Mr Woodbery, remain unknown, Neusroom findings have revealed that one of the unnamed suspects is Sikiru Adekoya.
The Dubai Police said Hushpuppi, Woodberry and others were arrested during operation Fox Hunt 2, a coordinated raid on the residences of suspects and their accomplices while they slept. The Police said they recovered documents evidencing fraud “on a global scale” worth 1.6 billion dirham (N168 billion). While the two celebrity fraud suspects have been repatriated to the United States where they will be standing trial, no information was released about the other suspects.
Investigations by Neusroom, however, revealed that Sikiru is one of the suspects believed to be in detention in Dubai.
According to sources who would not like to be named, Sikiru is Hushpuppi’s friend and they lived together in Oworonsoki, Lagos before Hushpuppi left Nigeria for Dubai, United Arab Emirates some years ago. Sikiru joined Hushpuppi in Dubai about two years ago. Prior to that, sources told Neusroom, he had travelled to Ghana to meet Hushpuppi and it is believed that it was from Ghana that they processed his Dubai visa.
Sikiru and Hushpuppi in a private jet in 2017. Photo: Instagram/Hushpuppi
“The only person Hushpuppi helped in this area is Sikiru Adekoya who is now in Dubai with him but his wife and kid are still here in Oworonsoki,” said one source who was willing to provide details, including an Instagram handle belonging to Sikiru.
When Neusroom checked Sikiru’s Instagram handle, we observed several similarities with Hushpuppi’s page – display of wealth, exotic cars and photos taken with Hushpuppi fill the timeline. His last post was on May 31, 2020, 10 days before the arrest.
When we checked the photos of the 10 other suspects arrested alongside Hushpuppi, Sikiru’s photo appeared directly above Hushpuppi’s. A confirmation that he is one of the ‘unknown’ suspects arrested by the police in Dubai.
Neusroom could not confirm further details as the Dubai Police are yet to respond to email enquiries.
Sikiru Adekoya, one of the unnamed suspects arrested along Hushpuppi and Woodberry
by Dubai Police. Designer: Oludare Ogunbowale
In some of the videos on Hushpuppi’s IG page, Sikiru is believed to be the voice behind the camera filming and hyping him. When Hushpuppi added a white Rolls Royce to his fleet of luxury cars early this year, Sikiru was the voice behind the camera filming the unveiling of the car. Hushpuppi also swiftly mentioned his name in the video.
On his Instagram page with 19,000 followers, less than one percent of Hushpuppi’s over 2.4 million followers, are photos he took with stars like Romelu Lukaku and Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh.
In many of his IG posts, Sikiru is seen praising Hushpuppi for “taking him out of poverty.” “If I gat him at my back @hushpuppi I gat the world at my back,” he wrote in an Instagram post where he shared his photo with Hushpuppi in March 2019.
A LOOK AT HUSHPUPPI’S WOMEN
Being part of the life of a suspected criminal, in most cases, means having to pay a high price: public shaming, stray attacks, and internet trolling. Since the arrest of ‘celebrity hacker’, Ramon Olorunwa Abass aka Hushpuppi, many of those who have links with him have maintained a low profile. They’re doing all they can to disentangle themselves.
The family of late Sani Abacha, one of Nigeria’s former military dictators, can bear testament. Abacha led a regime reputed to have trampled on human rights more than anyone before him. He is also famous for the unprecedented looting of the nation’s treasury. Since his sudden death in 1998, his children have been subjected to continuous internet trolling and ridicule.
Addiction to women, alcohol, drugs, and extravagance are some of the characteristics that define men in Hushpuppi’s class. For Hushpuppi, his trademark was lavish shopping, show off, and internet spats.
He shared his personal affairs with the world through his Instagram and Snapchat handles. The only part he managed to hide from the prying eyes of the public? The women in his life. Well, until 2017 when he had issues with an estranged friend and partner-in-crime Ismaila Mustapha aka Mompha.
That year, details about some of the women in his life came to public knowledge after Mompha accused him of neglecting his mother, baby mama and son despite his flamboyant lifestyle on the internet. It was from the controversy that it became known that Hushpuppi’s mother lives in Lagos and he has two children from different women he is not married to.
In a 2018 interview, he claimed his mother was 63 years old and that she visited him frequently in Dubai. But ‘he chose not to share her picture on social media’ because he cherishes her a lot. He had claimed his father taught him that “Anything you love or want to last, keep it a mystery from the people. What they don’t know they can’t ruin.” He claimed that is the reason why he keeps his mother and girlfriend away from the public. “I don’t post my family to entertain total strangers on the internet,” he wrote in one particular post.
One of the grievances Hushpuppi claimed he has with Nigeria and often cited as his reason for leaving the country is the death of his sister. Before his arrest he had shared a story of how he lost his sister because he couldn’t afford N3000 to pay hospital bills at a public hospital in Lagos.
Miss Sho – first Baby Mama
Hushpuppi’s first baby mama, identified simply as Miss Sho, gave birth to his first son – Dior. The duo got entangled in a social media drama in 2017 over accusations that Hushpuppi was a deadbeat dad, a claim he denied with several photos of financial transactions and gifts he claimed to have sent to his son.
Second Baby Mama
Little is known about her except that she is the mother of Jayden, Hushpuppi’s daughter and second child. He has managed to keep information about her away from the public.
In 2017, there were unconfirmed reports that the Nollywood actress was in a relationship with Hushpuppi. Some of her social media posts at that time also fuelled the suspicion that the speculation may be true.
On the Instagram page of Sikiru Adekoya (Hushpuppi’s childhood friend and closest ally), there are images from July 15, 2017, showing Sikiru and Tonto together in a car, and at a hotel lobby in Lagos. The images also give credence to the speculations and suggest that Sikiru may be the front man for Hushpuppi’s. Dikeh, a controversial Nigerian actor, has denied being involved with Hushpuppi.
Amirah Dyme – German model
There were also reports that German model Amirah Dyme was Hushpuppi’s girlfriend. They were said to have met in Dubai where Hushpuppi was based before his arrest. In the past, she had shared photos of moments she was with Hushpuppi on Instagram. Following reports of his arrest on June 10, Dyme took to her Instagram page to share a post that appears to be a subliminal attack on the fraud suspect. “Imagine telling someone they’re not good enough to come and sit with the “rich people” because of how they’re dressed when they bought their clothes with their own money while you literally STOLE the money that you used to buy outfits with from poor people. Karma is a b*tch. Hope you like orange,” She wrote.
Hushpuppi and Amirah Dyme pose for a selfie. Designer: Oludare Ogunbowale.
Shawana Nakesia Chapman – His wife
New details are now emerging about Chapman who is believed to be legally married to Hushpuppi. To the surprise of many, his lawyer Gal Pissetzky announced last week that he is married to Shawana Nakesia Chapman, a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis, a Carribean Island in North America.
Hushpuppi’s lawyer Gal Pissetzky. Designer: Oludare Ogunbowale.
The government of St. Kitts and Nevis have also confirmed in a statement that Hushpuppi was granted a passport as a citizen in February 2020 by virtue of his marriage to Chapman in October 2018.
‘THE HUSHPUPPI WE KNOW’ – NEIGHBOURS, FRIENDS, FANS SHARE INTIMATE DETAILS
Designer: Kume Akpubi.
Since the arrest of Ramon Olorunwa Abass aka Hushpuppi on June 10, 2020 by Dubai Police on charges of global internet fraud, few among the many people who have links with him have been talking about his life and how he lived in affluence.
He courted global attention to himself with his display of wealth on social media which raised suspicions among many curious internet users and intelligence agencies. For many of his 2.4 million Instagram followers, his arrest didn’t come as a surprise, they’ve always suspected his wealth.
“Many people here don’t like him. Aside from showing off on Instagram, he has not done anything to help people who suffered with him,” one resident Shola said. Shola lives two streets away from Ogunyomi street where Hushpuppi lived, and claims he knew the fraud suspect long before he left the country.
“Even in the house where he lived, those who they lived together are still there. How can you claim to be a billionaire and not help your guys?” he wondered. “I like him, and I want him freed but he has displayed too much wealth on the internet,” says Jamiu (not real name) who sees Hushpuppi as a hero and does not believe he has committed an unprecedented crime.
“There is no Yahoo Boy as rich as Hushpuppi,” he boasted
The Publisher of the defunct lifestyle magazine ‘Island Diary’, Yinka Oluwakuse, who claimed he knew Hushpuppi when he was living in Ogunmefun, Pedro area in Somolu local government of Lagos, said the alleged fraudster got his nickname when he was selling used clothes in Lagos Island. “Ramoni used to hustle okrika clothes in Berlin (market at Marina), Lagos Island. That is where he got the nickname “Hushpuppi “ after those dockside shoes of the same name he used to wear to Lagos Island. “Ramoni would dress up in second-hand designer clothes outside his mum’s shop on Ogunmefun Street behind Adaranijo Market before she started selling prepared Indomie,” he added.
According to Oluwakuse, Hushpuppi’s penchant for luxury wears didn’t start when he became big, “he always had a love for clothes. That was his passion, just like the average Lagos boy. He loved designer clothes and the good things of life. So, he started doing ‘Yahoo Yahoo’. Then he upgraded into ‘wire wire’.”
A Ghanaian hairdresser, Antoinette aka Atswei the Hairdresser wrote on Twitter: “Hushpuppi flew a barber from UK to come cut his hair. He owned a $1m watch. He had Versace redesign his hotel suite from ceiling to floor. He made so much money that he could’ve stopped but he didn’t. Money is a drug but tell me this isn’t greed and stupidity.”
Convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, who had an online faceoff with Hushpuppi in 2018 after accusing him of being a fraudster also said in a tweet in 2019 that the alleged fraudster told him on phone that he is not into fraud. “A close friend called me yesterday and Hush Puppy was on the other end of the phone,” Deji tweeted. “We had a conference call for over 30 mins talking. I listened to him narrate his life story to me. Told him I hate fraud of any kind and he said over and over again he is not into fraud.”
One of Hushpuppi’s many fans with the handle @Klever_jay_Ikell also took to his Instagram page to declare him as a genius and said he will be putting up Hushpuppi’s frame in his home.
@Klever_jay_Ikell in his post wrote: “You are not just a genius, you sacrificed yourself for generations to come in your family.
“Your sister died in LUTH because of N3,500 hospital bills (Typhoid and Malaria) you stood and cleared poverty in your family. Who am I to judge you. Who has seen poverty will understand and thirst for your wealth. You are not Pablo, but you are Ray Hushpuppy, I will tell my kids about you. I’m getting your frame in my abode.”
Popular OAP Ifedayo Olarinde aka Daddy Freeze, who came under criticism for promoting Hushpuppi in a documentary on his YouTube page, has also said he did not know he was into fraud.
“I didn’t know him to be a criminal, if I did I wouldn’t hang out with him,” he said in his defense amid intense internet trolling. “And unless someone is proven guilty, I do not discriminate against them because the one who taught me Christianity, the one who I follow, Christ did not discriminate against anyone.” Meanwhile, his lawyer Gal Pissetzky has claimed he is a “legitimate business” as an “entrepreneur” who made his money promoting brands on his Instagram page.
Despite the overwhelming charges of fraud filed against Hushpuppi by the United States Department of Justice, the Chicago lawyer told Forbes that “He has real estate involvement … [he’s] an Instagram personality. He was promoting brands and that’s how he was very legitimately making his money.”
ALL THE KINGPINS THAT MAY HAVE INSPIRED HUSHPUPPI – THE STORY OF ADE BENDEL, FRED AJUDUA, MAURICE IBEKWE, OTHERS
Before Ramon Olorunwa Abass aka Hushpuppi became the next big fraudster to come out of Nigeria, several others had walked the path. While some were caught, arrested and convicted, others went into hiding and remained on the list of most wanted Nigerans fraudsters.
Like Hushpuppi, many of these men were in their 30s when they became famous for the wrong reasons. They also had a cordial relationship with celebrities and musicians who constantly sang their praises at parties and in their albums.
Here’s a list of five of some of the biggest fraud kingpins who may have inspired Hushpuppi:
Emmanuel Nwude was a Director of Union Bank of Nigeria. He is known for defrauding Nelson Sakaguchi, a Director at Brazil’s Banco Noroeste based in São Paulo, of $242 million between 1995 and 1998 for the construction of a non-existing airport in Abuja. The Banco Noroeste fraud is said to be one of the biggest scams in the world.
He was also involved in the Nanco Noroeste fraud and was later elected member of the House of Representatives (1999-2004 when he was arrested) where he was Chairman of House Committee on Police Affairs. He also defrauded a German, Klaus Munch, of $330,000 in 1999.
He was one of the first set of fraudsters arrested by EFCC alongside Nwude when it was founded in 2003. He died in jail in 2004 while standing trial for fraud.
Ajudua swindled a former Chief of Army Staff, retired Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi of $8.4 million cash in 2004 while they were both in the Kirikiri Prisons standing trial for different offences. He had promised to help Bamaiyi secure the legal service of Afe Babalola (SAN) who he said would get him freed from jail.
Among many other fraud cases running into millions of dollars, he defrauded two Dutch businessmen, Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of $1.69 million between July 1999 and September 2000.
He jumped bail after he was permitted to seek medical attention in India in February 2005. He has been rearrested and presently standing trial for defrauding Bamaiyi.
Adedeji Alumile, aka Ade Bendel
Ade Bendel is arguably one of the most famous con men in Nigeria. He defrauded a retired military brigadier general and former governor of the old North-Central State, General Abba Kyari of N500 million. He is famous for many multi-million naira scams in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Ade Bendel also reportedly swindled a popular Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdul-Jabar Balogun of N70 million and 15 cars after promising to help him acquire a ship. He defrauded Abdel Azim Attia, an Egyptian General, of over $500,000 in 2003.
He was eventually arrested and sent to six years in prison in 2007 where he was said to have become a pastor.
Ayeni was to Ade Bendel, what Olalekan Ponle aka Woodbery is to Huspuppi.
He was Ade Bendel’s accomplice and the principal suspect who conspired with him to dupe the Egyptian General, Abdel Azim Attia of over $500,000 as funding for a business investment in farming. He was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2003.
Ayeni was initially arrested by the police and charged to an Abuja magistrate court, which released him on bail. He has since jumped bail and gone into hiding.