It is no longer news in this part of the world that cybercrime, also called Yahoo Yahoo, has become the order of the day. Cybercrime has infiltrated our society to the point where it appears to be the only viable path out of poverty for the average Nigerian youth. It has tainted the brains of many young people, giving them a new interpretation of the word hustle.
Cybercrime, according to the United Nations, is any criminal behaviour that uses Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to conduct crimes or that targets a computer or computer network.
Cybercriminals in Nigeria specialize in internet fraud. Their targets are both local and foreign. Foreign targets account for the majority of their victims. These self-proclaimed con artists engage in a variety of nefarious activities, including online dating scams, forgery, possession of forged papers, spamming, credit card fraud, impersonation, hacking, and phishing, to name a few.
The chairman of the economic and financial crime commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, termed the surge in cybercrime as troubling and disturbing when addressing at a cyber-cafe Nigeria conference in September 2021. He said that 80 percent of the EFCC’s convictions so far have been related to cybercrime.
Despite the fact that the “get rich quick syndrome” has been extensively blamed for cybercrime in Nigeria, other factors such as unemployment, poverty, societal moral and value decadence, peer pressure, poor cyber awareness, lenient punishment for cybercrime, among others are also factors that contributed to the unwanted growth of cybercrime.
Parents/guardians of these cyber criminals should guide their children in the correct direction in life. Sadly, they also support them in their wicked deeds.
Parents no longer bother to ask their children in higher institutions, who should be focused on graduating at the top of their class, why they are cruising around in the newest cars with no clear source of income.
There have also been many instances where these internet scammers’ parents assist them in perpetrating atrocities. Some parents go so far as introducing their children who are involved in this crime to herbalists who assist them in preparing charms that will enable them.
In Nigeria, the concept of cybercrime is rapidly altering its face and meaning, and it has just given rise to a new phenomena known as “Yahoo Plus.” Yahoo Plus is an enhanced form of Yahoo yahoo, which involves swindling victims using traditional charms, which most often include body parts. This Yahoo Plus is often used by online fraudsters who are no longer able to cash out from their unlawful acts. Young ladies have been the primary victims of Yahoo Plus’s unpleasant occurrence.
On the 18th of May 2022, a suspected Yahoo boy named Toba killed Tunrayo Odunbajo, his girlfriend/victim, in a thicket near his home in the Mowe area of Ogun State. The alleged victim, who was 18 years old, was said to be pregnant for her killer at the time of her untimely death. The death of Tunrayo is just one out of that of countless girls that have fallen victims to these internet fraudsters.
An internet fraudster who requested anonymity said that a lack of sponsorship was his motivation for going into cybercrime after graduating from secondary school in 2017. “I lost both of my parents when I was very young, so I grew up with my maternal grandma after my late father’s family failed to care for me. After high school, I wanted to continue my education at the university level, but I didn’t have the financial means to do so at the time. So, around a year after my WAEC, a friend in my neighbourhood introduced me to the system,” he said.
When asked if he participates in Yahoo Plus and ritual, the young man stated that he does not.
Although he is fully aware of Yahoo plus and has been convinced by some of his colleagues in the system to key in, but he doesn’t have the mind for any rituals which may involve human parts.
As can be seen from the foregoing, cybercrime is a serious threat to our system that requires immediate public action. All hands must be on deck to combat cybercrime. Every member of society has a responsibility to play in putting an end to the craziness that has dragged our societal values into the mire. Because most of them now consider internet fraud as the sole road to wealth, the youth no longer feel the need to focus on their education or obtain a skill.
Because cybercrime has done so much damage to Nigeria’s international reputation, finding strategies to eradicate it is unavoidable. The suggestions below will assist our society in gradually eradicating the threat of cybercrime and restoring Nigeria’s battered reputation.
1. The provision of employment
“An idle hand is the devil’s workshop,” as the proverb goes. Due to a lack of employment alternatives, the majority of young people turn to cybercrime. Because of the large number of unemployed young people in Nigeria, the majority of them resort to cybercrime to make ends meet. Youth may not feel the need to engage in criminal activity if they have appropriate work and job opportunities.
2. A refocus on the positive application of cyber skills
Another way to combat cybercrime is to retrain young people on how to use their computer talents for good rather than for bad, such as scamming people online. Digital skills training, such as coding, computer programming, and cyber security, should be provided by both government and non governmental organizations for cyber enthusiasts.
3. Strict punishment for fraudsters
Another reason why many youths involve themselves in cybercrime is because they are fully aware that the punishment that comes along with cybercrime is feeble. Most of the time, after being caught and arraigned, these cyber criminals are often sentenced to few months in prison and mostly with an option of a money for peanut which may not be up to 20% of the total money these fraudsters have swindled from their victims.
4. Proper education on cybercrime
Parents, religious leaders, and higher institutions of learning should all play their respective parts in educating the youths about the impacts of cybercrime. They should discourage the act through parental teaching, religious sermons, and academic rules and regulations.
Apart from the above tips, society at large equally has a role to play by minimizing the pressure mounted on the younger generation to become rich at a young age. Society and the media, especially with the advent of media have helped to project people who don’t own houses and cars in their 20s/30s as failures. This and other reasons will continue to mount pressure on our youths to involve themselves in all forms of quick money methods such as cybercrime.
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