For us, cybercrime is a life-long engagement –Yahoo boys

Some Nigerian youths, who introduced themselves as cyber fraudsters, have stated their reasons for embracing the crime.

Most of them, who spoke with New Telegraph on the condition of anonymity, insisted that they took to the illegal business because of unemployment and economic hardship.

Ironically, those of them claiming unemployment and economic hardship as excuses for taking to crime are still students and still under the care of their parents.

One of them, a student of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, also attributed his going into cybercrime, otherwise known as ‘Yahoo Yahoo,’ to unemployment and harsh economic condition.

“I lost my father while I was in senior secondary school II. That was 2015. After the incident, my father’s family abandoned us. I’m the oldest and the lot fell on me to care for my siblings. I found it tough to care for my sisters and also sponsor myself to school. Besides, it was my father’s dream for me to be educated. When he was alive, he was ready to sponsor and support me to any educational level,” the 300 Level student of Faculty of Science said.

According to him, the increase of youths in cybercrime is because of government’s inability to provide sufficient job opportunities for citizens.

When asked if he could ever abstain from the criminal act, he smiled and replied: “Only if I can secure a white collar job that fetches me N150,000 monthly. In fact, N150,000 wouldn’t be enough; I would have to manage it.”

The young man, who said that he didn’t regret going into cybercrime, explained that proceeds of the crime are used to foot his school fees.

He added: “I’m even using one of the most expensive phones in town, iPhone X. I buy expensive clothes; anytime I buy clothes, it usually starts from N50,000 range. On Fridays, I go to club to enjoy myself. Whenever my mum asked where I got money from, I tell her that I got it from winning bets in BetNaija.”

A National Diploma (ND) holder of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Mr. Olalekan, said he started cybercrime in 2014, immediately after leaving secondary school. He admitted joining the cybercrime out of frustration, greed and love of ladies.

He said: “I wanted to be financially buoyant in order to meet up with the standard of my peers around me. I also wanted to be able to give out cash to the needy.”

Olalekan said that his parents didn’t know that he was into cyber fraud. According to him, his mother was beginning to suspect he was into something shady, but she couldn’t precisely put her finger on what it was.

He said: “I have made more than N2 million since I started in 2014. I never regretted doing Yahoo because I see it as a quick way of making money. I have more than four clients that give me money.”

Olalekan, who said that he was ready to do cybercrime for life, stressed that he would only think of quitting, if he gets a well-paying job.

He said: “I spent more than N15,000 on hard drugs monthly. I buy expensive clothes, wristwatches and footwear. Honestly, I don’t even think I can stop doing Yahoo. If I can make N20 million today, I would still want more money. Clearly, a salary earner wouldn’t make such an amount in two years.” 

Asked what parents, government and law enforcement can do to stop youths from going into cybercrime, Olalekan replied: “Parents, government and law enforcement agencies should allow youths to be! They should keep praying for us to keep making money, because it reduces stealing and other violent crimes in the society.”

He explained that he is often pleased when he has enough subscription on his phones to browse. He insisted that having subscription is better than having food to eat.

“Even when I’m sick, I would still try to make sure I update my clients because Yahoo money is ‘Owo-Afefe.’ It can come at any time and if you’re not online at that moment, it automatically goes to another hustler (Omo Iya). Virtually all Yahoo boys are faced with the challenges of lack of subscription, harassment from the law enforcement agencies, especially Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), oppression from peers, which basically lead most of us into doubling our hustles by going into bloody practices like killing or using females for money rituals. No Yahoo boy would ever tell you he’s into ‘Yahoo Plus,’ but the fact remains that virtually all hustlers use black spiritual soap (Ose dudu) and local sponge to bathe in order to lure the Oyinbos (white clients) into parting with their money.”

Another cyber fraudster, Rasheed (20), a resident of Bariga in Lagos State, said: “I’m proud to be a Yahoo boy. The business fetches me money, which other jobs can’t.”

Rasheed explained that his parents were the major reason he took to cybercrime. He said that his parents, although working, couldn’t financially meet his primary needs.

“My father is an Alhaji, who has five wives and 15 children. The painful aspect of it is that my dad has divorced my mum and she too has gone to marry another man. They failed in monitoring me. It was actually those friends I started keeping that introduced me to the business. Since my parents hardly provide for me, I had to take care of myself. I needed to survive. I had to leave my father’s house to stay with my friends,” he added.

The spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, spoke with the New Telegraph on youngsters’ involvement in cybercrime.

He said: “Only fraudsters can tell you what led them into fraud. However, peer influences and the desire to get rich quick are strong predisposing factors. Arrests are made almost on a daily basis. The commission recently launched ‘Operation Cyber Storm,’ which led to the arrest of internet fraudsters from across the zones of the federation.

“I may not be able to give you a round figure, but it runs into hundreds. Their modus operandi is different, but the most common is theft of email which is used to steal personal identity of victims and to defraud them.

“Parents must inculcate the right values in their wards, to appreciate hard work and not cut corners. Government and law enforcement agencies can launch campaigns to enlighten them on the ills of cybercrime.”

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