On June 25, 2020, Dubai police released a video showing the arrest of Instagram celebrity, Raymond Igbalode, better known as Hushpuppi, alongside twelve others, for international fraud. Known for flaunting his wealth on social media, Hushpuppi’s profile describes him as a real estate developer.
Findings show that Hushpuppi has interacted or befriended well-known Nigerians, including Senator Dino Melaye and Davido. On October 18, 2019, a video tagged ‘Hushpuppi gives Daddy Freeze a tour of his Versace palace, discusses religion, money and more’ was uploaded on YouTube.
In another video, Freeze, who works with 99.3FM Nigeria Info and is known for criticising pastors, said Nigerians should not judge Hushpuppi because he has not been found guilty. He also said it is his job to get exclusive interviews, hence his video of the alleged fraudster.
In another YouTube video dated January 8, 2020, with the caption ‘Dino Melaye hosts star studded birthday party in Dubai, Hushpuppi, others attend,’ Senator Dino Melaye is seen chatting in the company of Hushpuppi and a few others.
But in an obvious reaction to comments made about his association with Hushpuppi, Melaye posted a photograph they took on Twitter and wrote: “The company you keep is not always a reflection of who you are.” In another YouTube video dated February 3, 2020, Hushpuppi is seen spraying hundred-dollar bills at Davido’s brother’s wedding in Dubai.
Prominent Nigerians present at the wedding included a former president of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Timi Frank, Davido, DMW artistes and several others. On Instagram, Hushpuppi, who has over 2.4million followers, was in the habit of displaying his many cars which include a range of Rolls-Royce brands and Ferrari.
He also posted photographs showcasing his patronage of top designers such as Burberry, Balenciaga, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Nike, Yeezy and several more. Unknown to Hushpuppi, the Dubai police had been tracking his social media activities and this proved useful in their investigation.
The operation, coined ‘Fox Hunt 2,’ revealed a hidden online fraud network committing crimes outside the United Arab Emirates by creating fake pages for existing websites and hacking corporate emails in order to redirect payments. The gang had over a million victims.