Hushpuppi, a famous Instagram influencer known for his lavish lifestyle, has brought to light a darker side of his fame, connecting to even Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
Do you know who Ramon Abbas is? He might be the one if you have encountered a Nigerian influencer on Instagram with a flamboyant lifestyle, private jets, luxury cars, and designer clothes. But the shiny surface of the Insta influencer holds a dark side that is harming humanity in a completely new way. Nicknamed Hushpuppi, Ramon has over 2 million followers on Instagram and millions of dollars legally.
But the millions of dollars have come from laundering hundreds of millions for people who do not conduct legal business. The range of his clients started from human traffickers to North Korea’s President, Kim Jong Un. According to the FBI, he is one of the most prolific money launderers in the world. Ramon had a robust network of money spinners who made tracing the activities impossible. In return, the clean money he generated generated an overwhelming fortune for him.
He was so smooth in business that he was caught only through confession. The conspiracy of laundering $300 million in just 18 months was proven true through his verbal confession. Hushpuppi used to operate through cryptocurrency and found his money laundering mules on Instagram. In terms of evolving technology, he has become the benchmark for top-notch utilization of the latest tech tools to generate black wealth for many illegal personnel.
His activities caught the eye of an investigative journalist, Geoff White, who was acclaimed for The Lazarus Heist, a podcast and book about a cybercrime collective linked to the North Korean state. In 2019, Ramon’s group broke into the vault of Malta’s Bank. “At that stage, they’re in the bank’s vaults,” White tells TNW. “They can take the money out but need to send it somewhere. They can’t send it to Kim Jong Un’s bank accounts — that would be pretty obvious. So instead, they dial up Hushpuppi.” Prosecutors said he helped launder over $14.7 million from an upcoming raid and provided bank accounts worldwide to wash off the stolen money.
Geoff said that even the best hackers in the world needed his alliance to conduct a clean laundering business. “The North Korean hackers, allegedly, are extremely good at breaking into banks and financial institutions,” says White.
“Once they get there, they’re not necessarily good at spiriting the money away. They need collaborators and accomplices who understand how international finance, bank accounts, and money mules work. So they turn to a whole bunch of dark web accomplices.” He also said that Hushpuppi’s network was so strong and loyal that getting even a shred of transactional evidence was impossible.
With the evolving technology, focusing more on security than ever is imperative. But the speed at which the security measures and regulatory bodies are catching up to the trend keeps them at least one to two steps behind the illegal side of professionals. The case of Ramon needs to be studied thoroughly and can provide enough insights to curb money laundering globally.