By Maxine Danso, Silas Jonathan
Claim: A post on Facebook declares that Hushpuppi has committed a $400k fraud inside US prison.
Verdict: The claim is false. Thom Mrozek, Director of Media Relations, United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles has confirmed that the report is not genuine.
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi, is no doubt a popular personality in Nigeria. Last year, his name made the headlines after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested him for charges relating to online financial fraud, popularly referred to in Nigerian parlance as “yahoo-yahoo.”
Some have since called him a legend in awe of his mythical adventures, notwithstanding the criminal aspect of his conduct. “He might be a fraudster, but he is good at what he does. The guy is smart,” a Facebook user commented.
Yet, several other claims about Hushpuppi have also made it to the social media platforms providing different information about the suspect. In March this year, multiple reports alleged that the suspected fraudster was dead. Another one even posited that Hushpuppi was lamenting over his experience behind bars.
While both claims turned out to be false, one thing noticeable was the attention the topic always appears to garner. Presently, information making the rounds claims that Hushpuppi has committed a $400k fraud from inside a U.S prison. Although the post was shared by “Kennyblogger” on Facebook, the alleged information is, however, referenced to the FBI.
In the post, they outlined a detailed report on how Hushpuppi carried out the act, claiming that Hushpuppi was given access to a computer network, thanks to the existing rights that prisoners have.
“United States authorities said that although prisoners have limited access to telephone, video, internet and computer use because of their right to privacy in a court filing. Like the rest of the detainees, Hushpuppi was granted access to the computer network as well.”
The claim attracted over two thousand reactions, shared multiple times and attracted diverse comments from users.
One user, Izuchi Onyeika, felt that the narrative is indeed true and, in fact, a tip of the iceberg to a larger conspiracy.
“I know this story already. Just come clean and tell us how he worked for the U.S govt from prison,” she wrote.
However, Ogbuji Rhoda, another user who commented on the post, asked for more answers.
“While in jail?? So what is he doing with the money? I thought dey said his account has been frozen??”
DUBAWA first searched the website of the US Department of Justice and that of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding the claim. Results uncovered showed no traces of the acclaimed report being shared online. Even more, the post neither gave a reference link to the source of the information nor provided contact names involved in the case.
The report was poorly written, vague and lacked traceable references. Apparently, the same claim has appeared in different formats, including screenshots and documents.
In a report conducted by AFP on a similar claim, Thom Mrozek, Director of Media Relations, United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, confirmed that the report is not genuine.
Mrozek said, “the document appears to have been fabricated,” adding that “the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, which filed the case against Mr. Abbas has not filed any such document.”
He also confirmed that: “We have checked with the FBI agent who supposedly authored the document, and he confirms it is a fake.”
Additionally, the same claim with the same narrative but different format has also been debunked by BBC.
Hushpuppi is still behind bars awaiting trial and did not commit the alleged fraud while in custody. It appears the narrative gained grounds based on the previous issues that had built up around Hushpuppi’s case. This claim is false.