In June 2020, Ramon Abass, widely known as Hushpuppi, was arrested and detained by the FBI in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE) by the Dubai police for internet fraud. He was later extradited to the United States.
The US government accused him of committing a multi-million dollar scam in July 2021, to which he pleaded guilty.
The presiding Judge Wright first shifted the sentence hearing from February 14 to July 11; it has now been shifted to September 21 at the counsel’s request.
The fraudulent actions of Hushpuppi have not only put him in jeopardy but have dented Nigeria’s reputation.
Here are 5 ways fraudsters like Hushpuppi have ruined business for Nigerians.
1. It’s harder for Nigerians to find remote work abroad
Hushpuppi and many questionable individuals attribute most of their wealth to successful careers in bitcoin trading and real estate. This has made it difficult for genuine Nigerians to close business prospects abroad.
Their actions have damaged the country’s reputation to the point where an email from a Nigerian is immediately deleted, and calls with audible Nigerian accents are cut off within seconds.
Those who manage to scale through, suffer once their names begin to sound Nigerian. Because of these frauds, many young people will hardly get the chance to work with their international peers.
2. Nigerians are largely stereotyped
It is been reported that most Nigerians living outside of their country are some of the most skilled group of immigrants. The green passport is disrespected despite our education because of the unfavourable perceptions Nigerians deal with.
The activities of Nigerian cybercriminals were frequently the punchline of light jokes before the FBI’s arrest and indictment of numerous Nigerian cybercriminals in California in August 2019 made international headlines.
With these actions, Nigerian criminals have proven themselves as a threat, like the Italian Mafia of old. Due to these frequent arrests, Nigerians risk international retaliation.
3. Difficulties in getting an international visa
Due to how notorious Nigeria has been tagged for scamming, it has been difficult for citizens to get an international visa, especially for America.
Many people have expressed their displeasure with the way the American Embassy in Lagos treats Nigerians in internet forums and newspapers.
No matter how qualified you are to seek a visa, it has been said that you can never predict how the American Embassy would react to your application. Most of the time, the visa is denied.
4. Freelancing platform
Nigeria is cited as a major source of online fraud in the US by the state department and FBI.
Most people have encountered money-related email scams from Nigeria. It serves more as a source of jokes referencing online vulnerability.
As a result, it has been challenging for a reputable Nigerian freelancer to get a client in the US.
5. Raising funds overseas
Most African companies have chosen to put their headquarters somewhere else in order to raise capital for their business. Examples of companies that have done so include Andela, Flutterwave, Paga, and Paystack, which are among the fastest-growing in Africa.
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, the co-founder of Andela and Flutterwave, claims that he has incorporated all of the successful digital businesses he has founded in Delaware and will keep doing so. The ability to acquire capital is one of the key pull factors.
“America is the deepest capital pool in the world. If you want to raise capital, it makes sense to domicile in America to increase your chances of fundraising success,” Aboyeji said.
Aboyeji also mentioned some of the dangers faced if a company that wants to maintain global relevance is registered in Nigeria.
“Being Nigeria it’s very difficult to do business across Africa or globally with a Nigeria-incorporated company. Unfortunately, it basically screams fraudster,” he said.
“Much better to be introduced as an American company. Especially given the reality is my skin colour and passport are already two strikes when it comes to global business, at least I have a fighting chance as an American company. Even in my home country, I’m treated better as an American parent company “investing in Nigeria” than as a local Nigerian company, so go figure.”