Money is undoubtedly a primary motivation for internet fraudsters, not just in Nigeria but all over the world. Nevertheless, it is a different case in my country. Internet fraud which is popularly known as “Yahoo-Yahoo” is now a norm of the society.
My heart saddens whenever I read any headline that resonates with youths being indicted for this “Yahoo-Yahoo” of a thing, per se. I’ve always lamented that internet scammers have become role models for so many Nigerian youths
On an average, almost every Nigerian knows at least two yahoo boys in their communities or a popular one on the internet. Most Nigerians are used to being a die-hard fan of anyone that spends lavishly and displays unexplainable wealth on the Internet which has no root — or a kind of wealth that is not genuine.
This is evident in the way young people drop comments on social media posts of popular yahoo boys in the making. You’ll see comments like “God make u bigger”, “Bless me zaddy”, “God wey bless you go bless me”, “Show me the way boss”, and all sorts of ridiculous and nonsensical phrases that exalts crime. As a country, it is no surprise that we’ve normalized crime.
When I was much younger, anyone who is labelled “419” is usually ostracized. But today, it’s a different story. A yahoo boy is someone loved by most people and he is even seen as a rare philanthropist. This is crazy.
The world is being governed by simple principles. Money is an exchange for value. In such a way that if you give me something, then I get you paid for that thing. Both of us walk away feeling gratified. Any money taken from another party without permission is a crime. It is as simple as that. As a country, I feel we’ve lost the simple understanding of money.
Come to think of it, these guys justify fraud because of the slave trade that took place in the past 3-4 centuries. In ancient times, the Hebrews were slaves to the Egyptians, to the extent that almost every Egyptian had a slave. But that doesn’t mean the Hebrews should do things against the Egyptians to get revenge in today’s world, No. That is history. Any money taken from someone without full consent or money that is not given willingly is a fraud.
A typical yahoo boy never, ever works alone. It is rare if he lives alone. He is always with his crew or “bandits”, if I may say. He needs his amiable comrades around him to pull off a successful scam. The document forger, the international call router, the hacker/tech wizard, the bank account frontperson, and a lady who possesses smooth talking abilities. This is very common whenever they want to carry out a romance scam. It is very complex. Most of these scammers have outside connections too, like the picker (the one that redeems gift cards), and those that provide internet tools to carry out a successful scam.
Under the Nigerian constitution, In order to curb the menace of Yahoo boys, Nigeria enacted the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act of 2015. The law is very comprehensive, prescribing severe punishment for identity theft and impersonation, the two devices of Internet scammers. It prescribes seven years in jail or N5 million fine or both, as the penalty for anyone who is convicted of impersonation to defraud any person.
Well, the N5 million is not a problem for the top dogs in the game. They’ve made much more than that in this scamming activity. There is a very popular saying in Nigeria which goes “All case na settlement”. This insinuates that there is a backdoor to justice in such a way that you can settle law enforcers in financial terms to escape justice. This is pathetic.