Premier league club targeted in £100 million BEC scam, accused extradited from Dubai

News by Tony Morbin

Among nearly two million targets in a £380 million BEC scamming operation were a Premier league football team, a US lawyer and an international bank. The alleged scammer was arrested in Dubai.

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, 37, is in court in Chicago, USA, on Friday facing up to 20 years prison, accused of trying to steal £100 million from an unnamed premier league club as well attempting to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through business email compromise (BEC) frauds, with a leading US law firm that lost nearly a million dollars in 2019, and an international bank also believed targeted. The Nigerian instagram ‘influencer’, who has 2.4 million followers, is known on social media as Hushpuppi; he was arrested in Dubai, UAE, from where he had been posting pictures flaunting an opulent lifestyle.
The US Department of Justice is reported as saying: "Abbas and others further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million from an English Premier League soccer club." An affidavit supplied with the criminal complaint stated: "The FBI's investigation has revealed that Abbas finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and that he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars."
In an email to SC Media UK, Chris Ross, SVP, Barracuda Networks commented: “This incident is another reminder that cyber threats such as Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes remain active and prevalent, posing a huge risk to unsuspecting organisations. In many cases, the hacker creates a fraudulent, but realistic-looking, email request for payment of an invoice or transfer of funds. The perpetrator will often use the company logo, email signature and fake purchase order number in their correspondence to increase the likelihood of being believed. The victim, assuming they are just doing their job, makes the transfer in response to the request, often repeating the process over time, leading to the company losing tens of thousands, if not millions of pounds.
“This type of spear-phishing attack has been trending, with Barracuda Sentinel detecting 467,825 spear-phishing email attacks between March 1 and March 23, a 667 percent increase. Tackling this issue requires companies to invest in the very latest email protection systems and also ensure that every employee is acutely aware of these scams and how they operate.”
On the Dubai Police Facebook page the director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Christopher Wray praised the Dubai Police General HQ, in combating transnational organised cybercrime including the recent arrest of Abbas and Olalekan Jacob Ponle aka "Woodberry" who were taken down in operation "Fox Hunt 2”.
The suspects were caught in a series of synchronised raids by six SWAT teams from Dubai Police with the director of Dubai CID, brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf saying that the raid resulted in confiscating incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth AED 1.6 billion (US$ 435 million/ almost £380 million).
He adds, "The team also seized more than AED 150 million (US$40.9 million/£32 million) in cash and13 luxury cars with an estimated value of AED 25 million (US$ 6.8 million/ £5.4 million).

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