An Instagram star who flaunted his expensive lifestyle on social media has been arrested in Dubai for allegedly taking part in a £350m cyber scam.
Officers from the FBI and Interpol seized more than £30m in cash when they stormed an apartment in the Middle Eastern city where Raymond Abbas was sleeping.
The 38-year-old Nigerian influencer, who went by the name Hushpuppi, gained millions of followers by posting selfies from private jets.
Investigators reportedly say Abbas projected an image as a billionaire jet-setter to help “lure victims from all over the world”.
His Instagram was full of pictures of his collections of luxury cars, shoes and watches.
He once posted a video of himself throwing $100 bills as confetti at a wedding.
Another 12 were arrested in co-ordinated raids for their alleged roles in a sophisticated online racket.
Investigators are reported to have found email addresses belonging to nearly two million victims on dozens of phones, computers and hard drives seized during the raids.
A fleet of luxury cars was also seized along with suitcases stuffed with cash, The Times reports.
“The suspects targeted victims overseas by creating fake websites for well-known companies and banks in a bid to steal victims’ credit card information and then launder the stolen money,” Brigadier Jamal al-Jalaf of Dubai Police CID said.
Abbas is also accused of committing fraud in Europe, America and Nigeria, police said.
The police operation, codenamed Fox Hunt 2, came after months of investigations into the gang’s activities, with detectives using their bragging social media posts to help track their locations.
Dubai media reports the gang’s latest alleged scam was linked to a £28m deal involving ventilators for coronavirus patients.
Abbas’ astonishing rise from a secondhand-clothes trader in Lagos, Nigeria to a billionaire property developer in Dubai came in just a few years.
He defended his extravagant lifestyle, saying he hoped to motivate others on their own rags-to-riches journeys.
“I post a few of these things so that someone can see my page someday and decide not to give up,” he told his 2.4m Instagram followers.
Until last year, his Instagram profile read “The Billionaire Gucci Master” but he changed it to “real estate developer” after an associate was arrested.
A video uploaded by Dubai Police of Abbas in handcuffs looking startled has been shared widely.
The FBI is said to be seeking to extradite Abbas and some of his gang to the States because many of the alleged victims were US citizens.
Abbas is yet to comment since his arrest on June 10.