Infamous Nigerian cyber-fraudster Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, has told the U.S. court that he did not know that the $14.7 million Malta bank heist was an Internet crime. He claimed he ignorantly provided bank account information to “an old friend” in need Ghaleb Alaumary, unknown to him, was a bank heist mastermind.
Louis Shapiro, an American defence attorney hired by Mr Abbas, stated this in a memorandum seeking a downward review of the fraudster’s sentencing.
In this case, Mr Abbas was approached by an old friend Ghaleb Alaumary (“Alamaury”) and was asked to help him procure bank account information. This information was to be used to wire transfer fraudulently obtained funds – the extent of which was unknown to Mr Abbas,” Mr Shapiro claimed in the memorandum filed on September 5 at the District Court for the Central District of California and seen by Peoples Gazette.
Hushpuppi’s lawyer further asserted the money heist had already been set in motion even before the Nigerian’s involvement, suggesting Mr Abbas only made an error in judgment by furnishing his “friend” with bank details used in carrying out the heist.
“The scheme that Mr Abbas became entangled in was already in operation prior to his involvement. It was being spearheaded by Ghaleb Alaumary and individuals in North Korea, with whom Mr Abbas had no knowledge,” the lawyer claimed in an effort to temper the gravity of Mr Abbas’s crime. “Mr Abbas was not aware of how many individuals were involved in this scheme, neither was he aware of the monetary extent of the scheme.”
In the document, Mr Abbas said returning to Nigeria after his sentence would be his undoing. He asserted his role in the indictment of Abba Kyari, which precipitated the downfall of Nigeria’s most-celebrated police officer, has put him at grave risk of being harmed should he return after serving out his sentence in a U.S. correctional facility.
Mr Abbas is looking at spending 11 years in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in a multinational conspiracy that earned him millions of dollars between 2019 and 2020.