Nobody saw a billionaire in Hushpuppi some 15 years ago when he roamed the dusty streets of Oworonshoki, Lagos, looking to wash cars for a paltry N100, and later returning to a food joint where he had beans and bread on credit.
In a philosophical reflection, using himself as a case study, he touched on how a child could feel rejected because of his poor background in his widely circulated 2017 “Letter to the Ghetto Kid”. It was about the same year Hushpuppi became a household name, as he had started using his social media page to flaunt his wealth.
With a sense of pride, Ramon Abass, whose dad drove a taxi and mum sold bread by the roadside in Oworonshoki, would say he represents “every underprivileged kid of the world and especially of Nigeria and of Lagos and of Bariga and of Oworonshoki — where a landlord had chased me and my family out of a rented room.”
Of course, now sounding like someone who has made it in life, he concluded by advising that “dejected kid” not to give up, just like he never did.
Entering stardom, Hushpuppi claimed to be into real estate but this had been trailed by skepticism, with many wondering how the 37-year-old had maintained a luxurious lifestyle for years — from acquiring the latest automobiles, including Rolls-Royce and Ferrari, to hiring private jets to take him holidaying across the best spots in the world.
It didn’t come much as a surprise in June when he was arrested in Dubai, where he was based, with 11 of his associates over email scams known in the Nigerian parlance as Yahoo-Yahoo.
In the special operation dubbed “Fox Hunt 2”, the Dubai police had tracked Hushpuppi for about four months, and upon his arrest, it was alleged that the crimes committed outside the UAE, included money laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, impersonation, banking fraud and identity theft worth Dh1.6 billion (an estimated N168 billion).
The police also revealed that 1,926,400 victims were targeted by the syndicate.
Subsequently extradited to the US for trial on money laundering, his lawyer, however, insisted that Hushpuppi “became rich through real estate.”
The real estate claim is what some residents of Ogunyomi street in Oworonshoki would dismiss.