STREET DREAMS AND THE YAHOO YAHOO ENTERPRISE
With an estimated 3.9 billion internet users, the internet is one of the most significant technological developments ever witnessed globally. However, it has a myriad of vulnerabilities taken advantage of by criminal elements and has birthed cybercrime.
For clarification, in Nigeria, “yahoo yahoo” is a street language that refers to using electronic devices like computers and mobile phones to defraud unsuspecting individuals or organizations through the internet. Significant targets in this scheme are usually people of western descent. Those who engage in these activities are popularly known as “yahoo boys,” while their victims are termed “clients.” According to section 419 of Nigeria’s Criminal Code, it is fraudulent and has varying sentences.
The origin of the term “yahoo yahoo” was based on the medium used to perpetuate this act at its early stage. The famous Verizon-owned emailing service Yahoo was the primary means of communication between swindlers and their victims. With the Google-powered Gmail services gaining popularity and its usage for fraud, “yahoo boys” have now been reformed to “G-Boys” coined from the first letter of Gmail. These scams adopt multiple schemes such as Catfishing on online dating sites, and social media networks reported to be of low risk with high profit. Another popular format used by “yahoo boys” is phishing, a technique where sensitive information such as credit card details and passwords can be acquired and used without the victim’s consent, Business Email Compromise, ATM spoofing, etc. In contrast, new formats keep emerging by the day. It is also believed that some “yahoo boys” allegedly practice “Yahoo plus”, a term often used to refer to the use of rituals and fetish items to facilitate the defrauding of victims.
WHY GET INTO YAHOO?
In Nigeria, we are in a situation where corrupt leadership, poverty, and more accessible internet access have combined to produce an enormous swarm of fraudsters. There are arguably other factors that fuel the advent of youths into fraud, factors such as greed and peer or parental pressure. Still, unemployment remains the most significant facilitator of youth decision to venture into fraudulent activities.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s unemployment rate as of the 2nd quarter of 2020 was 27.1% meaning that there are about 21.7 million unemployed Nigerians. The combined underemployment (28.6%) and unemployment rate in Nigeria stood at 55.7% as of 2020. The data also reveals that Nigerian youths with an unemployed population of over 13.9 million are the worst-hit. In the 3rd quarter of 2018, when the last report was released, the value was lower at about 13.1 million unemployed youths in Nigeria. About 6.8 million youths within the age bracket of 15-24 years are out of jobs, and a further 7.1 million currently unemployed. There is no end in sight as this value increases by the day
While gaining employment in Nigeria is challenging, starting and running a business in Nigeria is equally as complex. You are faced with issues like securing your starting capital, unreasonable taxes, insecurity, monopoly by the elites. You bring your infrastructure as there is little or none set up by the Nigerian society.
While it is difficult to define the economic system that Nigeria functions on, the lack of regulation in the business sector gives room for capitalism to thrive. Most businesses in Nigeria are driven by capitalism, where personal interests are pursued rather than pursuits in the public’s interest. These businesses are controlled mainly by the elites making laws that appear to work in their interests
Marxian scholars argue that capitalism breeds poverty, unemployment, and crime because it encourages materialism and egoism. They opine that the whole capitalist system depends on the exploitation of the poor by the elites causing continuous wealth increase of the elite while the poor get poorer.
It is necessary to note that most persons who venture into the “yahoo yahoo” fraud are usually young graduates; some are even undergraduates. The tertiary institution is a social environment where people of different backgrounds relate with each other frequently. The imbalance in financial status amongst students can contribute to the pressure to “hammer” on some people. It was observed that peer pressure is a complicated factor while trying to understand the involvement of youths in cybercrime. A Peer group is an agent of association where young people incorporate certain behaviours. The behaviour a person exhibits can be traced to the conduct of his pairs. However, it doesn’t apply to all situations as some young people independently already have delinquent tendencies.
As a Parent and Guardian, societal expectation demands your provision of the good moral support your child needs to flourish. There is an expectation on parents to mentor their young ones through reputable guidelines and regulations. However, for some reason, there is a deviation from this fundamental role by many parents. Furthermore, it seems many parents appear indifferent to how their children amass wealth. Some people go further to state that some parents are even in support of their children engaging in cybercrime directly or indirectly.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS ON NIGERIA
The Nigerian image is being dented with its association with cybercrime. Some people reject the use of ICT in their businesses out of fear of being scammed. The negative impact of this on the progress of the investors and citizenry is quite significant. Cybercrime erodes the confidence in the financial system while there is palpable caution on the side of potential tourists and investors when dealing with indigenous Nigerians.
Nigerians risk total loss of the excellent reputation built by industrious Nigerians, and in the present global economy, Nigeria can’t afford to be perceived as a nation associated with cybercrime. It becomes an issue as the everyday Nigerian can’t interact socially with the rest of the world without being profiled. This loss of confidence by investors will affect Nigeria’s developmental progress, as they find it challenging to invest in our economy. This gives the nation an economic pariah status. The confidence in our banking sector is low as there have been cases of cybercrime activities due to the porous banking security systems that are easily bypassed.
Cybercrime isn’t a novel occurrence in Nigeria; it has been in existence dating back to the introduction of computers and mobile phones in Nigeria. So, it runs deep in our system. Seeking its eradication will be near futile; however, there are basic steps that can be taken to curb these activities fundamentally, starting from fixing the problem of unemployment. The average Nigerian graduate is said to be unemployable, an assertion that I consider deeply flawed. The fact that a supposedly unemployable graduate or uneducated in some cases could sustain the intelligence to defraud a westerner suggests that Nigerian youth’s problem has no shortage of intelligence. Instead, they are being hindered by a lack of opportunities.
Written by Simeon Samuel for CoolAfricanmerch