By Sodiq Shittu
Cybercrime in Nigeria is largely perpetrated by young people and students in tertiary institutions, and are socially tagged yahoo yahoo or yahoo boys. Yahoo boys rely on their computer dexterity to victimise unsuspecting persons in cyberspace. It’s no longer a new thing that people are been cheated online. Some lost their money,goods etc in the process of engaging in an online business without knowing the people they are dealing with are internet fraudsters. Internet provides a lot of commercial, educational and social opportunities. Examples of computer assisted crimes in Nigeria and the world as a whole includes, hacking, impersonation, scams e.t.c. For most of these fraudsters, greed is the name of the game. But as these examples abound and the economic climate worsens, more young people are seeing Internet fraud as a viable means of survival.. While it has mainly gained notoriety in the Internet age, the origins of Yahoo date back to a time when the main tools were a pen, paper, and a very vivid imagination. As far back as the 1970’s, young Nigerian men would use false personalities to create long-distance friendships with ‘pen pals’ in better off countries like the United States and England. Nwude had committed one of the biggest scams in the world.
Specifically, his fraud was the third largest banking scam in the world after the Nick Leeson’s trading losses at Barings Bank, and the looting of the Iraqi Central Bank by Qusay Hussein. Nwude was a former director of Union Bank of Nigeria and this position made him privy to some links, information and documents that other persons would not be aware of. He impersonated the then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Paul Ogwuma, and connected with Sakaguchi informing him of a mouthwatering deal of Nigeria’s plan to build an airport in Abuja. Cyber crime is increasing astronomically and one of the reasons for the vast increase of internet fraud in Nigeria is poverty. Most Nigerians lack means of subsistence and they barely have a place to lay,food to eat,cloth(s) to wear etc and this makes individuals engage in such cyber crimes as listed above for sustenance. This is because life seems to be survival of the fittest and the poor sees internet frauding as a means of making life meaningful to them. Another causes of cyber crimes in Nigeria is greed. Most people actually involve in cyber crimes not because they don’t have what it takes to live a normal life but because they are never contented with what they have and the desire to have quick and more wealth without having to go through the right process of acquiring wealth. Research has shown that the more reason people involve or engage in cyber crimes is as a result of greed. If individuals see the little they have to be enough for them, there won’t be any need going into cyber crime or scamming others in order to get rich. In addition, unemployment is one of the major reasons people get involved in cybercrimes.
After all the educational qualifications one seems to have obtained In Nigeria, jobs are still not available for them and this lead to frustration and for them to live an average life,they see internet frauding as a means of survival. Come to think of it,even the employed are not been paid for months sometimes years and this can also lead to individuals engaging into cyber crimes.
Lack of confidence is one of the reasons people engage into cyber crimes. Some people believe they can no longer make it in life,they feel disappointed and they think the only way to make up their mistakes and to move forward is by making quick wealth,in this case they fall back on internet fraud. Internet fraudsters or as everyone calls them, Yahoo Boys keep themselves awake and creative through the long night with the necessities of weed and alcohol, often more expensive varieties to reflect the degree and strength of their ‘hustle’. One or two ladies may be scattered around; a loyal girlfriend whose partner is fulfilling one part of her Bonnie and Clyde fantasies; a scantily clad leftover from the escapades of the previous night; sometimes, there’s a young friend of the family who wants to try her hands at the trade and become a boss lady.
These people play their part; motivation, sustenance in bad weather, the kind of momentary pleasure that becomes validation for sleepless nights like this one. But the most important people in this place are the young men.
After all, it is them who have created an entire subculture around conning foreigners out of hundreds, thousands, and in often celebrated circumstances, millions of dollars. Nothing defines a successful yahoo boy like luxury. Contrary to popular belief, the most basic forms of Internet fraud often require little more than a laptop, a mobile phone, and an internet connection. It is why in recent years, more young people have turned to Internet scams. The reality is that it is more accessible. There is also the role that our society plays in gratifying success regardless of its origins. Nowadays, fraudsters have been elevated to the status of celebrity, thanks to social media and the vibrant activism of platforms like Instablog9ja and its ilk. In the end, regardless of what form it takes or the extent to which it is perpetrated, internet fraud is a crime that has far-reaching implications beyond the fraudster and his immediate environment. Whatever reasons or explanations may be given often pale in comparison to its effects on the individual, his society, and the victim. There is little hope of paid employment for the hundreds of thousands who leave tertiary institutions every year and this in itself, can be enough explanation for the choice that these young men have turned to. There is no justification for criminal activity, regardless of degree, extent, reason or time. Circumstance has never been an excuse for crime; it will never be.
Sodiq Shittu is a Public Affairs Analyst.