According to many reports, Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife and Will Parker have been granted the rights to co-produce one of Bloomberg’s articles, “The fall of the Billionaire Gucci Master”. Who knew such a time as this would come for writers? The questions of monetization, copyright, and ownership come front and center not just because this is a story that has had a global audience, but the significance of the main player, Abbas Ramoni, also known as Hushpuppi.
Oloye Akin Alabi, A Nigerian Business Man & Politician, on Twitter, suggested that Hushpuppi would be getting commissaries from proceeds of the Bloomberg story that Mo Abudu acquired.
The response section has been on fire so what would have been just a Facebook post became a curious study of this piece of work.
First, Bloomberg isn’t the only publisher who has shared the story of this criminal nest, yahoo boy Abbas. I bet for every 10 posts on Facebook, 1 will be about Abbas especially in our Naija Facebook.
One might wonder what made that story turn into a commodity and like Oloye, we might think that this blockbuster movie should be some kind of “cashout” for Abbas.
I would want to think that aside from the victims of the scams he partook in, and the institutions that shared information, there is a long list of more deserving beneficiaries starting with the actual author, Evan Ratliff.
The article starts with a quick summary of the exploits Abbas perpetuated. It leads us smoothly into his pseudo-inspirational and influencer lifestyle and then backs us up to a history of Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks which have essentially been pinned to Nigeria as the origin of such scams.
The story empathizes with the several millions of legitimate Nigerian youths who have become secondary or true victims of Abbas’ crimes – How the rise of SARS left many dead in its wake. The author of this article is not just all about naming and shaming but dissecting the true impact of this simple but perfected crime.
“But while the scam’s origins are unclear, the cybersecurity industry broadly assumes it began in Nigeria, because many perpetrators have been traced there.”
“Meanwhile, Hushpuppi is living the good life in Dubai, and some insurance salesman is getting shot in the head in a back alley in Lagos, because the police have decided he’s a Yahoo Boy.”
The plot diffuses into colourful storytelling as it takes us on a tour through Abbas’ lifestyle upgrades, his journey from Oworonshoki to Kuala Lumpur, his Instagram growth and inspirational monarchy.
“His smile, usually mouth closed with eyes alight, was confident, ambitious, a little sly. Soon he was getting thousands of likes per post, and his captions began to reflect his own flavor of prosperity gospel. He included bits of wisdom on living your best life and mini-lectures about how far he’d already come—and how others could do the same.”
The Bloomberg story characterizes his conspirators and the web of events gradually leading to each arrest. From Oyekunle’s 2017 arrest for BEC attacks across the US to appearances with Mompha who some suspect will be fingered soon.
What about his beef with celebrities like Davido, and Phyno, who has been alleged to have prophesied his eventual fall.
The plot thickens when the article shares details of his affiliation with, Alaumary, an American “loader” working with a North Korean Syndicate.
“Alaumary, who went by G, Backwood, and Big Boss online, was a mustachioed 35-year-old who grew up in Ontario. He’d been helping to cash out BEC scams for years, including swindling a Canadian university out of $10 million in 2017.”
Together, they scammed the Bank of Valletta Plc in Malta, a commercial and investment bank with offices around Europe. They damaged whatever security the French stock exchange regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers, had and then mauled down whatever they could use to break into the Bank of Valletta. It was a super-heist!
Abbas had an Instagram and show biz lifestyle that seemed to play an integral role on his downfall. It’s not like he paid much attention to being discrete in his nefarious communications, but he seemed to have created a spotlight that he was unwilling to leave. He was influencing and scamming simultaneously according to the FBI reports. Even on the same days as a heist, he would be doing his “doings” as they are called.
“On Hushpuppi’s Instagram, meanwhile, it was business as usual. Jan. 24 found him lounging on a plush orange couch at Dubai’s Louis Vuitton. “Mature enough to wish the best for people I no longer talk to and real enough to mean it ✌️,”
He didn’t hurt only corporate law firms and banks. He hit the sport clubs too and made away with a bounty!
“In 2018, four years after the Italian club Lazio bought defender Stefan de Vrij from the Dutch club Feyenoord, BEC fraudsters sent the Italians an official-looking email with Feyenoord’s logo, directing the €2 million final installment of his transfer fee to their own Dutch bank account.”
And did he reign? Yep! Until he didn’t.
The story climaxes with a short clip-through illustrating the associated from back home that had flocked around Abbas and become a part of his life as a Gucci Master, Real Estate Manager, and Instagram Influencer.
“Sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. on Monday, June 8, Pac was up watching the news in Abbas’s apartment while Abbas slept upstairs. Suddenly the front door burst open, and the apartment was flooded with black-clad men brandishing weapons. Pac’s first thought was armed robbers, but it was a Dubai police SWAT team, fully kitted up and looking for Hushpuppi.”
A comment in the story highlights how Abbas was just a small fish in a North Korean syndicate allegedly government-sponsored. The Dubai police, and the FBI, may have told a single story that puts Nigeria in the center of an elaborate scheme that may be unstoppable considering the almost little significance Abbas plays. BEC frauds are not just email scams, they are often part of something more sinister, political, economical and akin to warfare. The scope of it is even unimaginable for the everyday person just trying to get by.
“No matter how many millions Abbas’s alleged cut amounted to, he’s arguably still a patsy for the likes of the alleged North Korean hackers, who U.S. authorities say took home the bulk of the loot and remain safe in their home country.”
And even more so, this story, according to Mehita Iqani, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, “…raise a really important set of questions about the ethics of marketing and how that intersects with the rise of influencers,”
It questions the legitimacy of the anti-corruption struggle in Nigeria, the methods with which the country’s social identity is assessed globally, the role of security agents in perpetrating crimes instead of stopping them, and the never-ending assault on the Nigerian youth.
“Within Nigeria, mass public protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad broke out in cities across the country in October, after a video surfaced showing what the video’s original poster described as an extrajudicial killing. The protests quickly expanded to encompass wider issues of corruption and inequality, but the University of Ibadan’s Akanle says the uprising was partly driven by a whole generation who’ve found themselves treated like fraudsters”
The story closes with words of wisdom from Abbas on June 7, 2020, two days before his arrest. “May success and prosperity not be a ‘once upon a time’ story in your life … 🙏”
It’s important to note how embracing this article is and how far-reaching its impacts would be on screen. It speaks about a lot of issues other than just the narration of Abbas’ fall. It represents a lot of silent and silenced stories.
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