FBI Arrests Nigerian National on Charges of Conspiring to Launder Millions From Cybercrime Schemes

Posted: Jul 05, 2020 10:00 PM
FBI Arrests Nigerian National on Charges of Conspiring to Launder Millions From Cybercrime Schemes

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Justice Department's Central District of California announced the arrest of a Nigerian man accused of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from cybercrime schemes. The man, a Dubai resident, flaunted his extravagant lifestyle on social media, according to a Justice Department press release. The FBI obtained custody of the man from authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this week. 

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, 37, was arrested in the UAE last month and turned over to the FBI to face charges filed in a criminal complaint by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. 

"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," reads the affidavit filed with the complaint. 

BEC schemes often involve the unauthorized access of a company's email by a computer hacker, leading to fake emails that attempt to persuade recipients into making wire transfers. The affidavit accuses Abbas and others of committing a BEC that defrauded a client at a New York law firm out of approximately $922,857. An unknowing paralegal wired the funds believing the funds were part of the client's real estate refinancing. 

Abbas is also accused of conspiring to launder $14.7 million in stolen funds from a cyberheist of a foreign financial institution in Feb. 2019 and conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in other schemes, including one against the English Premier League. 

"BEC schemes are one of the most difficult cybercrimes we encounter as they typically involve a coordinated group of con artists scattered around the world who have experience with computer hacking and exploiting the international financial system," said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. "This case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle in another country while allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world. As this case demonstrates, my office will continue to hold such criminals accountable, no matter where they live."

If convicted, Abbas would face a statutory maximum prison sentence of 20 years for conspiracy to engage in money laundering.