The BBC has used newly available court documents to uncover the man behind cyber heists that have cost his victims millions, from his humble beginnings as a “Yahoo Boy” hustler in Nigeria to a so-called “Billionaire Gucci Master” living a life of luxury in Dubai before his arrest last year.
The 37-year-old began his career in Oworonshoki, a poor coastal area in the north-east of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
Local driver Seye told the BBC that he remembered Abbas as a young boy working alongside his mother in the Olojojo market. His father was a taxi driver.
As he grew older, Seye says, Abbas liked to splash his cash: “He was generous. He used to buy beer for everyone around.”
Yahoo Boys” are romance scammers who took their name from the first free email available in Nigeria.
“They came up with the idea of stealing identities. And then with that identity theft, they went into dating [scams],” explains Dr Adedeji Oyenuga, a cybercrime expert at Lagos State University.
Once a relationship is established via a false identity, romance scammers wheedle money from their online lovers.
Like many Yahoo Boys, Abbas broadened his criminal horizons. Many went to Malaysia – and Abbas followed them, ending up in Kuala Lumpur around 2014, then Dubai in 2017.