Social media influencer arrested in Colombia after her flashy Instagram posts tipped off authorities to her family’s ‘massive money laundering scheme’
- Colombian social media influencer based in Miami Jenny Ambuila, 26, was arrested Friday while on vacation with her family
- She and her parents were arrested and charged with money laundering
- Her father Omar Ambuila worked as an inspector at the Colombian seaport of Buenaventura, which earns a modest monthly salary of $3,000
- He allegedly pocketed millions for letting untaxed goods pass into the country
- He received at least $600,000 in bribes since 2012 in overseas payments
- The arrests were made after investigators looked into Jenny’s purchases flaunted online – most notably her red Lamborghini worth more than $300,000
- She claimed she bought her luxury purchases by developing businesses that included an ice cream shop and a forex trading service
- Jenny is on house arrest in Colombia, her parents are in jail on additional charges of aiding smugglers and corruption
- On her social media, she poses wearing Chanel and Louis Vuitton bags, Hermes belts and Gucci shirts, and $1,000 Valentino heels
A Miami social media influencer who flaunted designer bags and her red Lamborghini online has been arrested by Colombian authorities for her family’s alleged massive money laundering scheme.
Colombia-born Jenny Ambuila, 26, lived a lavish lifestyle in Miami, frequently posting her designer digs, expensive car, and her luxury vacations in Europe on Facebook and Instagram.
But her jet-set fairy tale lifestyle came to a bitter end when she was arrested on Friday along with her father Omar Ambuila and mother Elba Chara and another customs official while on vacation in Colombia.
Prosecutors say Ambuila’s father worked as a mid-level customs officer at the Colombian seaport of Buenaventura and allegedly pocketed millions of dollars in exchange for letting untaxed goods pass into the country.
Their arrests are a part of a Colombian investigation to stop smuggling into local markets before they’re flooded with contraband goods.
Authorities hope their arrests can help untangle a larger web of corruption at the seaport.
‘This is a fundamental case in our fight against smuggling. We are going after all of this corrupt structure, and the resources behind them,’ Andres Jimenez, a Colombian prosecutor, told a local radio station.
The Office of the Public Prosecutor in Colombia said Ambuila, who was the head of the Internal Work Group of Cargo control of the Dian for the past 27 years, made a monthly salary $3,000 as a ports inspector, according to El Tiempo.
Jimenez says he received at least $600,000 in bribes since 2012 in overseas payments and could have received much more.
Those illicit funds were then allegedly sent to Ambuila’s daughter to the University of Miami, where she studied from 2013 to 2017 and earned a bachelor’s degree in finance.
‘In exchange for their illicit act, these two people (Ambuila and the other official of the Dian) and other alleged accomplices would have received millionaire dividends that were hidden through front companies or were turned over to their relatives to acquire goods and services that would exceed their economic capacity,’ prosecutors said.
‘For example, the two officials did not have salaries over 6 million pesos, however, they recorded income and purchases for much higher amounts with no clarity of their origin,’ they added.
Jenny lived a life of luxury frequenting stores like Gucci and Dolce&Gabanna and travelling to Milan and Paris, flaunting her ritzy trips on her Facebook and Instagram page jennylifestyler (where she has 10,000 followers), which she’s since made private.
On it she describes herself as a venture capitalize, for exchange trader, and social media influencer.
But her extravagant and flashy posts are exactly what led to speculation of her family.
Investigators looked into her social media profiles and investigated her purchases – most prominently her 2017 purchase of a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder, worth more than $300,000, which she often posted on Instagram.
She also bought a Porsche Cayenne while living in Miami.
‘People assume that because they can’t make it you can’t make it either,’ Ambuila wrote in a May 2017 Facebook post where she shows a photo of the Lamborghini. ‘Prove them wrong.’
She told authorities she bought her luxury purchases by developing businesses that included an ice cream shop and a forex trading service.
‘She did set up some companies on paper,’ Jimenez told Colombia’s Blu Radio. ‘But they did not make enough earnings to afford her that type of lifestyle.’
On Friday during her arrest Ambuila, dressed in a Gucci T-shirt, stared blankly ahead as an officer read out the charges against her.
Investigators are hoping to close in on other alleged members of Buenaventura’s smuggling network in the coming months.
‘The amount of money that smuggling moves in this country is huge,’ Jimenez says. ‘We are hoping this investigation goes all the way to the top.’
Investigators, with the support of U.S. agencies, fathered evidence into the family for more than a year.