As accessibility to the internet increases for african states, so has the appetite for fraud, especially in nigerian youths soared. The growth of internet fraud might be as rapid and diverse as the growth of the internet. Nigeria, some time dubbed the scam capital of the world, has also seen it’s music industry penetrated by internet fraudsters.
The Nigerian scam trade is popular known as yahoo yahoo, named after the popular search engine at the time yahoo. The perpetrators of these scams are often referred to as yahoo boys or G boys. This fraudulent epidemic that has so engulfed the Nigerian youth span romance scams, credit card (‘wire wire’) and deceitful emails.
An investigation by The Guardian revealed that a lot of these young people who engage in this fad are undergraduates. Almost one-fifth of international advance fee fraud committed, can be traced to Nigeria.
Advanced fee fraud is regarded as 419 , after section of the Nigerian criminal code that outlaws fraud, Article 419.
419 started in Nigeria with people sending letters to the homes of many people in the western world. These fraudsters baited their target with the promise of getting an alluring amount of money if you assist them in recovering their fortune or aid in a transfer of huge funds.
“ These young Nigerians are stated by the police to be excellent psychologists,” was said by 1949 the U.S. consul-general to Nigeria.”
The current crop of young Nigerian scam traders are more flashier than their predecessors. The internet has facilitated the ease of which these 419-ners ply their trade. They can reach multiple people than ever before and also allow them focus on the more gullible people as the more discerning and wary people are filtered out by a tip-off, such as seeing a Nigerian e-mail.
Although Nigerians aren’t the only ones committing internet fraud, they are still labeled as the face of the trade. There even exists a website, dedicated to scamming scammers from Nigeria which is referred to as scam-baiting. Even with a rising technical skill gap, the skilled workers aren’t interested in cybercrime, it’s mostly people with lower technical skill that involve in internet fraud. The bulk of Nigeria based yahoo boys haven’t employed the new techniques of internet fraud that are utilised today, techniques that include; Ransomware ( holding individual and organisational networks to ransom by denying them access to their systems or data) and data breaches (stealing or taking information from a system without informing the system’s owner) like the one currently plaguing uber.
The young people of Nigeria represent a huge chunk of the population, 50% of the population is expected to be under 25 by 2020. These young Nigerians have shouldered the burden of the country’s economic and infrastructural plights. Turning to crime as a means of survival, they take refuge in the fact that they don’t directly hurt their preys physically through their scams. Their consolement in this fallacy couldn’t be more obvious in the fact that they leave mental scars on these preys which in turn start to affect their physical life.
These scams have earned Nigeria a bad reputation globally. An epidemic that was known as 419 has be worn a new mask called yahoo. Young Nigerians entered in the this Yahoo game compliments of the cybercafes boom then. These days young persons now make use of modern technical gadgets, while some of the flaunty rich ones are now role models to some of the youth. Songs are sung in celebration of these “celebs”.
This epidemic that is currently widespread in Nigeria, will not in any time see a dip if measures are not taken. Because of this, Nigerians a times find it hard to conduct legitimate business transactions online, because of the low trust afforded Nigerians on the internet.
Fighting cybercrime requires an inclusive approach, one that involves creating a security-aware culture. The public, government, security agencies and Internet users need to become more enlightened of the dynamics of internet fraud. In Lagos alone, it is estimated that there are five million scammers with an impressive success rate.
Despite several arrests and convictions that have taken place, this epidemic is still being romanticised by more Nigerian youths both home and abroad. They see it as their quickest way to riches.
With the penetration of mobile internet in Africa, technology can be used as a tool to combat this menace. Like using a crowdsourcing platform of existing and potential victims to aid in the fight against internet fraud.
The police are also enablers of this epidemic, as the fraudsters know they have a get out of jail free card with policemen, if they can pay a well enough bribe. Creating a better police system where bribe taking or any form of corruption will be at its minimal and also having better assessment tests for the people taken into police employment while creating better working environments for our police officers.
While it seems cliche to suggest that a lot of issues facing Nigeria can be curbed if we have better infrastructures, rid the country of corrupt practices and enact better policies, this is in fact very true.
Teaching children and youths about empathy and better morals will go a long way in also addressing this scourge among Nigerian youths that is internet fraud.