Nigerian Internet Fraudsters popularly known as ‘yahoo boys’ have been put in the spotlight of trends and fashion in the society we have today. Often time we hear young adults confidently aspiring to be yahoo boys, and parent cheering their children who indulge in such criminal acts.
According to Wikipedia, Internet fraud is a type of cybercrime fraud or deception that makes use of the internet and could involve hiding information or providing incorrect information to trick victims out of money, property, and inheritance.
Yahoo-Yahoo particularly is the use of internet software to cheat people and wipe out money from their bank accounts.
Nigeria was ranked 3rd in global internet crimes by the Nigerian Communication Commission behind UK and US. Looking at this ranking it is evident that Nigerians have lost the sense of right and wrong.
These Yahoo boys are usually young and are easily identified with their signature dreadlocks and sagging pants; extravagant lifestyle, and making noise in clubs, bars, luxurious apartments, and hotels.
Their vocabulary is wide and ever-expanding: from words like ‘streets’ to ‘clients’ to ‘updates’ to ‘cashout’ and so on, the language, inspired by some of Nigeria`s most contrarian but popular musicians is a tool, and also a driver. Many of Nigeria’s fraudulently rich also count among their models.
They abuse drugs, smoke, and drink as they please causing menace openly without having a consciousness of the legal implication of their actions. These people are criminals, who have been plated with the get-rich mentality, they are our brothers, sisters, friends, and family, but are being protected.
The community would even give them a chieftaincy title and name them the noblest man.
The unending arrest and prosecution and conviction of these scammers have not been reduced, ironically the syndrome has now been normalized and has become justifiable.
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Most of them blame their present situation on the country’s economy, lack of jobs, and inability to leave a normal life. They have said that this source of income is the only way they do not end up on the streets as robbers, kidnappers, or assassins.
The saying that an idle man is a devil’s workshop has been proven terribly true. However, there is no justification for any criminal act. They have preyed on their victims, who now live in frustration and depression, and sometimes even end up taking their lives.
Speaking on how the Yahoo-Yahoo became an incentive, an expert noted that Nigeria is a country where people do not account for their wealth. According to him, about 70-80 percent of the wealth of Nigerians is often traced to unverifiable sources.
This is why their numbers continue to grow, as they take advantage of the digital space. Yahoo boys used to primarily target Nigerians who had bank accounts. With their antics discovered, they have been forced to upgrade and these days, they net victims all over the world, consequently dragging Nigeria`s already soiled reputation through even more dirt.
Many of these cyber thieves belong to the generation of Nigeria where those in power get away with so many criminal activities and money looting. Thus, many of them have grown up seeing and hearing for themselves the massive amounts of public funds that have gone unaccounted for into private pockets in Nigeria.
They must have thought to themselves, why suffer so much in a degraded economy when you can get rich through a faster means?
The campaign against the menace is definitely going to be long and hard, not only because internet fraud is lucrative, but because it is perfectly playing into the hands of many young people who have seen their options evaporate in the cauldron of social insecurity in the country.
It would take more than just arrest and persecution to eradicate this problem. Nigeria has to treat the cancer and not only the cancer sores.