Lifestyle

Bad Days As Noose Tightens On Kenyan Fraudster Linked To Hushpuppi

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The noose is tightening around the neck of a suspected Kenyan cybercriminal linked the large global wire frauds that eventually led to the arrest and downfall of the Nigerian con artist and Instagram influencer Ramon Abbas (alias Hushpuppi).

Abdulrahman Imraan Juma (alias Abdul), 28, is wanted to face trial in the US for allegedly engineering a plan that made a Qatari businessman lose $1.1 million (Sh120 million) to a gang of six international fraudsters.

Juma, in custody at Gigiri Police Station since December 15, is accused of pretending with five others, including Hushpuppi, to be in a position to help the businessman secure $15 million for a school he wanted to build in Doha.

On Tuesday, Nairobi Chief Magistrate Wendy Kagendo denied him bail. She ruled that the suspect, a suspected gang leader in an international criminal syndicate, will remain in custody until a case by the state seeking to extradite him to the US is determined.

“The offence the suspect is facing is serious which needs an extradition application to be dealt with first before making other orders,” she said.

Money laundering

In the extradition case, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji said Juma is facing 61 counts of money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft at the US District Court for the Central District of California.

This means that unless Juma blocks his extradition or successfully appeals his detention, he will join a growing list of Kenyan cybercriminals who have made the trip to the US to face justice for their crimes.

His accomplice, Hushpuppi, who US law enforcement agencies say stole over $24 million (Sh2.5 billion) in his criminal career as the head of a global syndicate of cybercriminals, has been in a US jail cell since his arrest at an apartment in Dubai in July 2020.

He has since pleaded guilty to his crimes in a plea bargain agreement. He faces between 10 to 20 years when he is sentenced later this year.

The man he worked for, Canadian Ghaleb Aluamary, who is accused of stealing $1.3 billion, was in September sentenced to 11 years in prison by a US court.

The US government has managed to arrest and extradite Nigerians Rukayat Fashola (aka Morayo), Bolatito Agbabiaka (aka Bolamide), and Yusuf Anifowoshe (aka AJ and Alvin Johnson), who are all said to be Hushpuppi and Juma’s co-conspirators.

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Still at large is Juma, former Nigerian assistant commissioner of police Abba Kyari and Vincent Kelly Chibuzo (alias Kelly) whose extradition proceedings are also underway in a Lagos court.

US joint trial

The US wants the three to be extradited in time for the start of a joint trial that is supposed to start on May 17, after being postponed from October at the request of prosecutors.

According to papers filed in a US court, it was Juma who allegedly masterminded the scheme through his company Westload Financial Solutions which was based in Flamingo Towers, Upper Hill, Nairobi.

He then allegedly roped in Abbas, who was based in Dubai. Abbas then recruited as mules Chibuzo and Bolatito, who were in Lagos, and Monturay, who was in the US.

“During the first meeting, the victim signed a contract with Westload. The contract stated that the victim was responsible for paying a ‘consultancy fee’ of $225,000 (Sh24 million) through the law firm Okatch & Partners (“Okatch”), which was located in Kenya,” court papers say.

Okatch & Partners was allegedly to act as an agent between the two parties and the payment was to be made in two instalments – an initial transfer of $157,500 (Sh17 million) and a second payment of $67,500 (Sh7 million).

After receiving this money, Juma is claimed to have sent the victim a fake wire transfer confirmation showing that he had received the $15 million he was looking for through the Qatar National Bank.

But on checking his bank account, the victim found no money. He called Juma to find out what had happened.

Convinced that he could milk more money from the victim, Juma told him that he needed to pay a ‘payment release order’ of $150,000 (Sh16.2 million) for the money to be cleared from a bank in the UK.

He then roped in Hushpuppi due to his global expertise in defrauding people.


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