The United States authority has said it will probe a viral video of someone believed to be convicted internet fraud kingpin, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, after holding a feast with others inside what was reported as his detention facility at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Hushpuppi is currently serving an 11-year sentence, in the U.S.
His ally and social media influencer, Tunde Adekunle, alias Tunde Ednut, celebrated his birthday on January 22.
Some fans and other celebrities joined the birthday across Nigeria and parts of the U.S. and a video surfaced showing a feast of different foods, including jollof rice, pasta and soda drinks, in what appeared to be a jail facility.
“Tunde Ednut, you can see that we are celebrating you in our own little way o,” said a voice which many Nigerians said belonged to Mr Abbas in the video that went viral on September 22.
“Fried rice is ready, Tunde Ednut birthday celebration. Jollof loading, pasta is here as you can see,” the voice continued as the person, who hid his face behind the camera, displayed a variety of delicacies on a white table.
The video, which the Peoples Gazette analysed, showed a grey double bunk and a bed covered in white sheets. The features reminiscent of a prison interior stoked rumours that Mr Abbas was having a swell time celebrating his friend’s birthday behind bars.
Nigerians familiar with Mr Abbas’ voice insisted that he was the one in the viral video. Mr Abbas, 41, was convicted for his role in a multimillion-dollar international fraud scheme in 2022.
However, the United States Bureau of Prisons told Peoples Gazette that the investigative department would take charge of the inquiry to ascertain the facts or lack thereof about the viral video.
“We take these matters seriously,” the prison facility said, adding that its investigative department would take charge of the inquiry to ascertain the facts— or lack thereof— about the viral video.
It was earlier reported that efforts made by Hushpuppi to reduce his 11-year sentence met a brick wall as the Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit in Los Angeles, U.S. dismissed his application.
Abbas had appealed to the court for a review and reduced sentence, citing his behaviour during his stay in jail.
SaharaReporters had reported that Abbas in 2022 was convicted for money laundering and a series of online scams in tens of millions of dollars.
However, after reappraising his chances of success, according to Peoples Gazette, he raised the motion to appeal the sentence. The motion was filed in November 2022, two weeks after Judge Otis Wright sent him to jail.
The convict had enrolled in prison educational courses and also taken an active role in cleaning prison facilities, becoming one of the correctional facility’s top toilet cleaners, in a bid to earn a lighter sentence.
Still, the appellate judges remained implacable in their decision to deny his appeal.
The judgment was made on January 19. It was announced by Molly Dwyer, the court’s clerk, on behalf of the appellate judges.
Olalekan Jacob Ponle popularly known as Mr. Woodberry, recently asked the United States Court of Appeals to reduce his eight-year jail term on the grounds that the sentence was wrongly calculated.
Woodberry, an internet fraudster and an ally of Hushpuppi, had pleaded guilty to count one of the eight counts brought against him in the US.
He further agreed to surrender $8 million in proceeds of wire fraud as well as luxury cars and watches to the foreign government.
Woodberry earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges in which he was accused of engaging in a fraudulent scheme known as Business Email Compromise (BEC).
He was arrested in Dubai on June 10, 2020, alongside Hushpuppi.
He was subsequently convicted in July 2023 for scamming individuals and businesses of millions of dollars.