reflection of reality?

Nigeria: Hushpuppi, ‘419’ and the perceived glorification of fraud

By ‘Tofe Ayeni

Premium badge Reserved for subscribers

Posted on April 15, 2021 17:37

Nigeria’s social media ‘celebrity’ Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi, was arrested in Dubai in June 2020 on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. But his illegal activities are rooted in a culture where many young people see fraud as the only way to make money.

In the pretrial, he pleaded not guilty to all four counts and risks 20 years imprisonment if convicted. The 37-year-old, who described himself in his Instagram biography as a ‘real estate developer’, gained popularity by flaunting his wealth to his over 2.5 million followers.

When he was arrested by the FBI — who collaborated with Snapchat, Instagram and Apple — Hushpuppi and his accomplices were found to be in possession of:

  • $40m cash;
  • 13 luxury cars worth $6.8m;
  • 21 computers;
  • 47 smartphones;
  • and a list of two million names of victims.

Hushpuppi has hired top criminal defence lawyer Louis Shapiro to defend him at the jury trial which was suspended due to Covid-19, but is scheduled to continue on 4 May 2021.

Postal fraud begins in Nigeria

In Nigeria, Hushpuppi’s country of origin, fraud is popularly known as ‘419’ or ‘yahoo yahoo’. The country has long been associated with fraud, which

There's more to this story

Get unlimited access to our exclusive journalism and features today. Our award-winning team of correspondents and editors report from over 54 African countries, from Cape Town to Cairo, from Abidjan to Abuja to Addis Ababa. Africa. Unlocked.

Subscribe Now

cancel anytime