The ‘Yahoo boys’ – Nigeria’s undergraduate conmen

A recent article by Oludayo Tade, a lecturer of criminology, deviance and social problems at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, offers a disturbing, yet fascinating, insight, into the world of internet scamming and how it has, literally, graduated from sleazy downtown internet cafes to university campuses, bagging big bucks for students.

Email scamming is a global phenomenon. It even has its own vocabulary. Scammers are known as guymen or yahoo millionaires or simply as the ‘Yahoo boys’. They work for an oga or chairman. The scammer who gets the victim to show interest is the catcher or owner of the job; another scammer may then take over and they share any money gained. The victim is called the mugu (which means fool) or one of many other insulting terms.

Anything goes for email scammers and the range of ploys and intrigues used continues to widen. The formats vary too: foreign business offers from heads of corporations that promise you millions; influential government officials claiming they have the power to award you a lucrative contract; bankers offering a bonanza; dream partners who offer you romance; notices w.scam-genericthat you’ve won a foreign lottery; opportunities to make easy money working from home. The list goes on.

They all have one thing in common: you must first forward processing fees to bogus lawyers or provide financial assistance in order to access a greater fortune in due course. If you do, you will not see your money again. This type of advance-fee scam is known as a 419 fraud in reference to the relevant article of Nigerian law.

Tabe’s conclusion is as disturbing as the phenomenon of internet scamming itself and challenges not only deep seated corruption at the heart of Nigerian society, but, by extension, the increasing materialistic values that are manifesting themselves in the Nigerian Church and a Christian witness that is called to be a sign of contradiction in the world:

“It is no surprise that there is a proliferation of “yahoo boys”. The celebration of wealth, particularly among politicians, serves to motivate the involvement of the youths in cyber-crime. Nigerian society celebrates wealth without questioning the source of the money.

So what do these young, undergraduate Nigerians do under these circumstances? They see a leadership that doesn’t care about their future. And they use their education to follow the example set by their elders that shows crime pays.”

Oludayo Tabe’s article: Meet the ‘Yahoo boys’ – Nigeria’s undergraduate conmen’ was published in the on-line magazine ‘The Conversation’ on July 26, 2016. To read Professor Tade’s article, click here


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