Ramoni Akanni, popularly known as Hushpuppi, was on the 10th of June, 2020 arrested and detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol for money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking and scamming.
The 38-year-old did not go alone, as he was arrested alongside 11 others, among them was Woodberry. The arrest came after a long hunt, by the combined team of the FBI, Interpol and Dubai police.
Hushpuppi with over 2.4 million Instagram followers apartment’s was surrounded by the combined team, where it was gathered that he seized over 150 million dirham (£30 million) meant for the purchase of ventilator.
Many followers had salivated over the Hushpuppi’s almost-obscene love for Gucci and his arrogant flamboyance on Social Media. Little did they know that he was using the ostentatious display to attract potential victims, who thought they were doing business with a “rich guy”.
Kemi Oluloye reveals more facts
Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo, a controversial journalist, shortly after his arrest, revealed that Hushpuppi and his associate, Woodberry were implicated by the Secret Service in a Nigerian Unemployment Insurance scam named Scattered Canary.
Operatives said they found email addresses of nearly two million victims on dozens of phones, computers and hard drives. More than a dozen luxury cars were seized in the raid along with suitcases full of cash.
They recovered documents evidencing fraud “on a global scale” worth 1.6 billion dirham (£352 million).
The operation, codenamed ‘Fox Hunt 2’, came after months of investigation into the group’s activities. Mr Al Jallaf said that detectives in the anti-cybercrime task force were able to track down gang members through false accounts they had created on social media.
Abbas, whose arrest reportedly came after he added a white Rolls Royce to his fleet of luxury cars, once posted a video of himself throwing $100 bills as confetti at a wedding.
It is understood that a large proportion of the alleged victims reside in the US, but Hushpuppi had his tentacles in Europe, America and back home.
Meanwhile, Hushpuppi claimed to be a property developer.
Although many Nigerians doubted is source of wealth following is his over-night transformation.
Hushpuppi did claim at one time, that his posts were to inspire people. Well, he has inspired many to join his forbidden trade.
At least, the hefty count charges against his paints a vivid picture for anyone involved in fraud across international borders.
Following development that spans out of his wealth, the questions now are: What does his action represent as a Nigerian?
Does is act represent Nigeria’s culture as hardworking people?
What can Nigerians and the World take out from this?
Many of the young people who thronged his pages and drooled over his pictures with lines like “God when…?” and begged for ‘give-aways’ endlessly have been utterly misled and may never find their way back until they uproot the evil seed he has planted in them.
Many became popular overnight just by appearing for 30 seconds in Hushpuppi’s video. Others flocked to them to ask how they did it and, boom, they became resource persons on ‘how to make it’. His videos got retweeted and it was passed own the line that so-and-so could get you to Dubai to join the ring.
If you are hailing Hushpuppi for being smart, if you cart away the commonwealth of Nigerians, divert money meant for projects, dupe church members, do money rituals, engage in ‘one-chance’, do Yahoo-Yahoo, kidnap and abduct for ransom, look for all means to get rich quick, engage in G-plus, rob with a pen or gun, sit on employees’ contracts, allowances and salaries, divert clients’ money from your seat as a bank teller or any activity which puts/throws anyone in harm/into sorrow, there is a Hushpuppi in you because you love the get-rich-overnight gig.
Hushpuppi had gullible minds at his disposal and he got them in their droves. Anyone who dared criticise his source of wealth got called unprintable names. He became a micro-celebrity, showing many that you need not have a job to become a superstar. A sweet-mouth, a very influential lens (CNN, Forbes, millions of Instagram followers, a fine pose before a camera, a fine smile, a braless pose, a pose in your boxer shorts, a sculpted body, a feature story by the local media etc). Everything has been democratised, even stardom.
The blatant freedom of expression served as a disguise for fraudsters to exploit gullible users either emotionally or financially. Welcome to a world where you no longer need Forbes’s microphone or CNN’s camera to become a celebrity.
You can become a superstar even if you don’t have a job. All you need is a phone, a camera, a sweet mouth, and a social media network where you can create attractive personas with your “bodyguard of lies.” All you need is a cameo in one of Hushpuppi’s videos, and your social media visibility skyrockets.
READ ALSO: Hushpuppi has a case to answer with EFCC
Social media, like every other useful tool in life, can be abused and used for unethical purposes. Social media’s comparative metrics unintentionally serves as a perfect catalyst that fuels greed, jealousy and desperation. Social media is a jungle where people hunt for likes, shares, comments, and followers.
To achieve this aim, many tell brazen lies and fall into the trap of ostentatious display of things that they can’t afford. It’s a rat race. Every time you jump on social media, learn to use your lens of scepticism. You don’t have to believe everything because it’s a collage of edited lives.
The FBI, CIA, Interpol and others have been catching our thieves for us. Let us learn to catch our own thieves. Yes, we are brazen and are never scared of flaunting our wealth on Social Media but we must kill the Hushpuppi in us all.
We need to be socially-conscious of the people we are and understand our unrivalled need for social awareness and the fact that “this kind goeth not out by fasting and prayer”. It needs a great degree of national awareness and consciousness. But you know how it is, Hushpuppi is not the last – just as he was not the first – of the fraudsters. We have a nursery full of them. They are breeding. We should start thinking of catching our own thieves; not grooming them.