Influencer involved in $1.1 million Qatar school financing scam jailed

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Influencer Hushpuppi who stole more than $1.1 million by faking the financing of a Qatari school, has been jailed for more than 11 years in the US, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

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The Instagram celebrity, whose real name is Ramon Abbas, will serve his 135-month sentence in a federal prison. A Los Angeles judge also ordered him to pay $1,732,841 in restitution to two fraud victims, according to the BBC.

Abbas was charged in 2021 for the elaborate scam and pleaded guilty to money laundering in the same year.

The 37-year-old was charged alongside five others, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and aggravated identity theft, according to a 2021 statement by the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District for California.

“The defendants allegedly faked the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretense going after the victim was tipped off,” said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison in 2021.

“Mr Abbas, who played a significant role in the scheme, funded his luxurious lifestyle by laundering illicit proceeds generated by con artists who use increasingly sophisticated means,” court documents unsealed in 2021 said.

In addition to the school financing scheme, Abbas admitted to “several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses,” the US justice department said, according to the BBC report.

“Ramon Abbas... targeted both American and international victims, becoming one of the most prolific money launderers in the world,” said Don Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office, in a court document on Monday.

In 2019, one of Abbas' fraud schemes, plunged Europe’s Malta into chaos as payment systems shut down after Abbas tried to launder €13 million ($13 million) stolen by a gang of North Korean hackers from the Maltese Bank of Valletta in 2019, the BBC said.

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