Ramon Abbas, an Instagram influencer from Nigeria, has pleaded guilty to defraud victims out of at least $24 million using email "phishing" scams.
Abbas, 37, was arrested in June in Dubai and extradited to Chicago to face money laundering and wire fraud charges.
Video shows a stunned Abbas in police custody inside his luxury 2-story Versace penthouse with its own pool and jacuzzi in Dubai. A childhood friend visiting him from Nigeria was briefly detained and released by special operations forces and Emerati police officers in June.
Abbas now faces up to 20 years in prison in the US, after being extradited to Chicago then California last year.
Abbas and his crew hacked into computer systems after unsuspecting victims clicked on phishing links in emails. They then monitored the victims' emails looking for invoices or sales statements.
Abbas and his crew changed the banking info in the invoices, then siphoned the money into their own accounts. Victims included individuals and banks. The thieves stole $1 million meant for a children's hospital in Qatar.
Abbas cultivated an Internet persona that made him an Instagram star around the globe. He often wore expensive designer clothing, shoes and backpacks. His fleet of luxury automobiles worth $3 million were seized by police.
His lawyers told a judge that Abbas is the father of five children, including a child who lives with his mother in Virginia. But the judge ordered Abbas detained until his trial. Abbas was not allowed to stay with a girlfriend's uncle in Homewood, Illinois, because he was considered a flight risk.
The federal prosecutor said Abbas "never visited" the girlfriend or their child in the United States and there is no evidence that he has ever even met this 'uncle.'
Abbas' lawyer said his client is a social media influencer who earned his millions legally by promoting high end luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi on Instagram.