Dubai Police authorities on Thursday confirmed the arrest of Nigerian well-known Instagram personalities Ramon Olurunwa Abbas also known as Hushpuppi and Olalekan Jacob Ponle popularly known as Woodbery.
The two were confirmed arrested with 10 other suspects on allegations of fraud involving huge money.
The two Nigerians and 10 others were arrested in an operation tagged “Fox Hunt 2”, Dubai Media Office said.
Police said the raid resulted in the seizure of incriminating documents pertaining to a well-planned international fraud worth Dh1.6 billion – N169 billion.
They were accused of leading an “international” online fraud network that was committing crimes outside the UAE, including money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonating, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft.
“The arrest of ‘Hushpuppi,’ ‘Woodberry’ and 10 gang members involved in money laundry and cyber fraud activities, is another achievement added to the proud record of Dubai police in ensuring the emirate’s security and safety,” Commander-in-Chief of Dubai police Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri said.
“Similar to operation ‘Fox Hunt 1’ that took down an African gang of nine online scammers last February, Op ‘Fox Hunt 2’ is another painful hit to cybercriminals who try to mess with the world’s security and safety,” he said.
The police said 13 luxury cars, valued at an estimated Dh25m ($6.8m), 21 computers and 47 smartphones were confiscated.
The gang had 119,580 “fraud files” as well as addresses of more than 1.92 million victims. Police said email addresses for 800,000 potential victims were discovered.
Hushpuppi’s principal scam was to create websites that looked identical to well-known companies and banks, it is alleged.
The gang hacked corporate emails and directed huge payments by companies towards accounts they controlled.
He and his accomplices used emails and messages to prompt people to log in or make payments on the fake sites.
Hushpuppi’s arrest was first rumoured on Nigerian social media about two weeks ago. Media reports said American officials were pushing for his extradition to the United States because the majority of those he defrauded are American citizens.
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency also said Hushpuppi, “Nigerian most-wanted hacker,” is being investigated for cyber crimes. The agency said it is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in tracing victims of Hushpuppi’s alleged fraudulent transactions.
Hushpuppi often posts pictures with his luxury cars like Ferrari and Rolls Royce and a private jet. Before his arrest, he posed as a real estate investor and businessman and has more than two million followers on Instagram.