Social media influencer ‘Hushpuppi’ jailed 11 years for money laundering
The notorious social media influencer “Ray Hushpuppi,” best-known for promoting his opulent lifestyle on Instagram, was sentenced to 11 years in a U.S. prison for money laundering on Monday.
Hushpuppi, whose real name is Ramon Abbas, was ordered to pay more than US$1.7 million (over $2.8 million) in restitution to two fraud victims, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The 40-year-old Nigeria-born influencer was arrested in Dubai two years ago for his role in an international fraud syndicate.
Don Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, called Abbas “one of the most prolific money launderers in the world” in a statement.
Alway claimed Abbas and another man from Mississauga, Ont., conspired to launder money from bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes and other online frauds. (According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, BEC schemes typically strive for unauthorized access to a business email account to trick a victim business into making an unauthorized wire transfer.)
Abbas was also found guilty of conspiring to launder money for the North Korean regime, which attempted to steal from a bank in Malta by providing account information for banks in Romania and Bulgaria. Abbas admitted to the authorities that the intended loss for the Maltese bank was approximately US$14.7 million (almost $19.7 million).
He also confessed in his plea agreement that he attempted to defraud someone from Qatar who sought a US$15-million loan (over $20 million) to build a school in the country. At his sentencing Monday, he was ordered to pay this person US$809,983 (over $1 million) in restitution.
“By his own admission, during just an 18-month period defendant conspired to launder over $300 million,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum, although they said much of the intended loss “did not ultimately materialize.”
Though his Instagram account has been removed, Abbas once boasted 2.3 million followers. He would regularly “flex” — show off — his lavish lifestyle and expensive cars online.
According to the BBC, Abbas has had a long career in fraud. He reportedly started as a “Yahoo boy,” a Nigerian term for men who carry out romance scams to steal people’s identities and money online.
In a handwritten note to the judge, Abbas claimed to have only received US$300,000 ($401,910) for the crimes he was tried for.
Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ont., was charged separately. He pleaded guilty in 2020 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, prosecutors said. He was sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison and was ordered to pay more than US$30 million (over $40.1 million) in restitution.
— With files from The Associated Press
Causal association found between evening social media use and delayed sleep – Medical Xpress
A team of psychiatrists from Duke University and Yale University has found what they describe as a causal association between evening social media use and delayed sleep. In their study, reported in the journal Sleep Medicine, the group tracked social media use and delayed sleeping patterns for 44,000 Reddit users.
Prior research has shown that exposure to blue light, such as that emitted from phones and tablet computers, can lead to sleep problems because it interferes with production of melatonin. In this new effort, the researchers have found that posting to a social media site prior to normal bedtime may delay the time that people go to sleep.
The team wondered whether social media posting might be interfering with people’s normal sleep patterns, especially in the evening hours. To find out, they conducted an exhaustive analysis of data on the social media site Reddit. As with other social media sites, users on Reddit can post comments or links to content and comment on what others have posted.
In all, the research team analyzed 120 million posts made by 44,000 users on the site over a period of 15 years. They were able to establish what they described as normal bedtimes for frequent users of the site, which enabled them to measure the impact of social media posting prior to a normal bedtime.
The researchers found that if a user posted to the site approximately one hour before their normal bedtime, they were much more likely to stay up past their normal bedtime—on average, they were still awake after posting, from one to three hours after they normally went to sleep. And if they posted multiple times before their normal bedtime, they stayed up even later.
The researchers suggest that a rise in dopamine levels due to anticipation of a response from other users on the site could make it difficult for posters to relax and go to sleep. Prior research has shown that a rise in dopamine levels contributes to mental activity and alertness, neither of which is conducive to going to sleep.
William U. Meyerson et al, The association between evening social media use and delayed sleep may be causal: Suggestive evidence from 120 million Reddit timestamps, Sleep Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2023.04.021
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Turkey election results live: Erdogan wins runoff – state media – Al Jazeera English
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Turkey election results live: Erdogan wins runoff – state media Al Jazeera English
China: Cyberspace regulator deletes 1.4M social media posts – CTV News
China’s cyberspace regulator said 1.4 million social media posts have been deleted following a two-month probe into alleged misinformation, illegal profiteering and impersonation of state officials, among other “pronounced problems.”
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement on Friday it had closed 67,000 social media accounts and deleted hundreds of thousands of posts between March 10 and May 22 as part of a broader “rectification” campaign.
Since 2021, China has targeted billions of social media accounts in a bid to “clean” its cyberspace and make it easier for authorities to control.
The latest crackdown targeted accounts on popular Chinese social media apps including WeChat, Douyin, and Weibo that fall under the category of “self media,” a term that broadly refers to accounts that publish news and information but are not government-run or state-approved.
Beijing frequently arrests citizens and censors accounts for publishing or sharing factual information considered sensitive or critical of the Communist Party, the government or the military, especially when such information goes viral.
Of the 67,000 accounts that were permanently closed, almost 8,000 were taken down for “spreading fake news, rumours, and harmful information,” according to CAC.
Around 930,000 other accounts received less severe punishments, from being removed of all followers to the suspension or cancellation of profit-making privileges.
In a separate campaign, the regulator recently closed over 100,000 accounts that allegedly misrepresented news anchors and media agencies to counter the rise of online fake news coverage aided by AI technologies.
The CAC on Friday said its latest campaign had targeted almost 13,000 counterfeit military accounts, with names such as “Chinese Red Army Command,” “Chinese Anti-terrorist Force” and “Strategic Missile Force.”
Some 25,000 other accounts were targeted for impersonating public institutions, such as disease and prevention control centres and state-run research institutes.
Almost 187,000 were punished for impersonating news media businesses, while over 430,000 allegedly offered professional advice or educational services without having relevant professional qualifications.
Around 45,000 accounts were closed for “hyping hot issues, clout-chasing and illegal monetization.”
The regulator said it had “actively co-ordinated with public security, market supervision and other departments, to deliver a heavy blow and rectify illegal ‘self-media.'”
“At the same time, (we) also call on the majority of netizens to actively participate in monitoring and reporting (illegal ‘self-media’), provide clues … and jointly maintain a clean cyberspace,” it added.
(Aditional reporting by Ella Cao and Bernard Orr; Editing by Mike Harrison)
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