The US government has dismissed as fake the reports that the detained Nigerian influencer Ramon Abbas, known as Hushpuppi, executed a $400,000 (£304,000) internet fraud from prison.
Hushpuppi, 37, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates in 2020 for crimes that cost victims almost $24m and is currently in a US jail awaiting sentencing having pleaded guilty to money laundering.
On Thursday, a document emerged on social media claiming that the FBI filed new evidence against Hushpuppi on Wednesday for defrauding Americans using prison internet facilities.
The court documents stated that Hushpuppi, while in U.S Federal correctional facility, participated in the purchase and laundering of Economic Impact Payment debit cards fraudulently obtained from stolen data of U.S citizens and residents.
Economic Impact Payments are financial support offered by the US government to U.S residents according to the CARES Act. One of the ways eligible US residents receive their Economic Impact Payments is by debit cards.
From the documents presented in court, it was found that hackers use data of U.S residents to file and obtain Economic Impact Payments debit cards. They sell off these EIP cards in underground marketplaces to other cybercriminals.
It is not clear where the document originated from yet it has gone viral on Twitter and been reported by many news organizations.
However, an official of the US Department of Justice told the BBC that the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, which filed the case against Hushpuppi, has not filed any such document.
“The document appears to have been fabricated… We have checked with the FBI who supposedly authored the document, and they confirm it is a fake,” an official said.
Hushpuppi is known for posting photos of his lavish lifestyle on Instagram, where he has 2.5m followers. In one scheme, Hushpuppi attempted to steal more than $1.1m from someone who wanted to fund a new children’s school in Qatar, court documents said.