THOUSANDS of Brits are feared to have fallen victim to a Nigerian Instagram star accused of masterminding a £350m global cyber-scam.
Rolls Royce-driving Raymond Abbas – known as Hushpuppi – was seized in a raid in Dubai following an FBI probe.
Abbas – a pal of Manchester City ace Benjamin Mendy – has 2.4m followers thanks to hundreds of selfies with his fleet of luxury motors and on private jets.
He claims to be a property developer and is dubbed the Gucci Billionaire by fans because of his love of designer gear.
But investigators say he acquired his vast wealth in an email scam which targeted two million people and companies all over the world.
They include countless British victims after his operation focused on Brits and UK-based firms.
He is even said to have dreamt up a plan to steal £100m from a Premier League football club.
The FBI’s investigation has revealed that Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime
Abbas, 37, has been extradited from the UAE to America where he is on remand awaiting trial. If convicted he faces 20 years in jail.
Special Agent Andrew Innocenti said: “The FBI’s investigation has revealed that Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime.
“He is one of the leaders of a transnational network targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars including a scheme to steal £100m from an English Premier League football club.”
Abbas began his Instagram rise to fame in 2012 with his first selfie in front of a Range Rover in a downtrodden part of a town.
But he was soon posting pictures with two Rolls Royces worth £500,000, a Ferrari and a Bentley and surrounded by designer gear including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Versace,
He was also snapped on private jets flying to Paris and Cannes.
He has told how his parents were so poor when he was growing up in Nigeria they couldn’t afford to buy him shoes.
He worked as a secondhand-clothes trader in Lagos before moving to Dubai as a property developer.
He has boasted online: “I’m a very simple dude, all I want is a mansion, two yachts, a couple of Lamborghinis and some Gucci.
“Besides having money, the only thing else I like is making money. I have an amazing life.”
In March last year City’s £52m defender Mendy posted a snap of them together shopping in Dubai with the message: “Normal day with my bro Hushpuppi.”
Abbas posted the same snap and said: “I wish I can play for Manchester City and be humble and down to earth like my bro @benmendy23.”
An eight-month FBI probe dubbed “Operation Fox Hunt 2” tracked the computer hackers as they targeted victims all over the world – often focusing on Britain.
Special Agent Innocenti said: “Abbas sought to fraudulently obtain hundreds of millions of US dollars and UK pounds sterling.”
One intercepted message to him from a hacker read: “U tell me what country is best I attack. But I have UK. Ready live.”
And another messaged him: “Brother I have 4 company’s (sic) in UK ready to switch bank acc on file but acc has to be open beneficiary.”
The gang hacked business emails to send bogus messages to customers requesting payments be made into new bank accounts.
They also built fake websites which looked identical to legitimate sites to trick individuals into sending payments to them, making up to £8million a week.
The FBI revealed that a member of the gang sent Abbas the name of a Premier League club and the stadium address and said: “Amount £100M.”
The agency did not name the club.
FBI agents and Interpol cops seized more than £30 million in cash when they swooped on Abbas’s Dubai apartment as he slept last month.
Twelve others were held in coordinated raids.
Investigators found details of a staggering 1,926,400 victims.
They also seized 21 laptops, 47 smart phones, 15 memory sticks and five hard drives as well as 13 luxury cars worth £5million.
Brigadier Jamal al-Jalaf, of Dubai Police CID, said: “The suspects targeted victims overseas by creating fake websites for well-known companies and banks in a bid to steal victims’ credit card information and then launder the stolen money.”
Abbas, who once posted a video of himself throwing $100 bills as wedding confetti, was linked to a recent scam involving a £28 million deal for ventilators for Covid-19 patients.
Lawyer Steve Todd, a director of Gulf Law, is representing at least ten British cyber crime victims based in the UAE.
He said: “Some are not even aware they have been victims of cybercrimes or identity fraud until their visa renewal is rejected due to crimes done by the scammer under their names.”
Abbas made his first appearance in court in Chicago on Friday.
He was remanded in custody and will be transferred to Los Angeles to face trial for conspiring to launder millions of dollars.
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