As the menace of Internet fraud, also known as ‘yahoo yahoo’, continues to spread across Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has, between June 2018 and June 2019, arrested no fewer than 517 Internet fraudsters, aka ‘yahoo boys’, in Nigeria, including arresting singer Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, for suspected Internet fraud activities.
In this exclusive report, an analysis of Internet fraud, yahoo yahoo trend across the country by TheNewsGuru (TNG) shows that within the period under review, no fewer than 67 suspected Internet fraudsters were arraigned before a competent law court, including the arraignment of Naira Marley by the EFCC at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
In what is the first comprehensive analysis of Internet fraudsters data in the country, TNG gathers that the EFCC, within the same period under review, secured no fewer than 191 convictions across the country, with Naira Marley still awaiting trial at the Lagos court, after his bail was secured, as the singer risks spending seven years in prison.
Data for this report, that was cleaned before analysis was done, was generated by combing reported cases of Internet fraud – cases of arrested Internet fraudsters, cases of arraigned Internet fraudsters and cases of convicted Internet fraudsters – by the EFCC, as the nation continues to grapple with the menace.
TNG findings, depicted in the infographics used in this report, show that while the financial crimes watchdog arrested ninety-three (93) Internet fraudsters in Oyo state, ranking the highest in the number of arrested Internet fraudsters in the country, the Commission arrested eighty-eight (88) in Ogun, fifty-five (55) in Lagos, fifty-one (51) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, and forty-nine (49) in Delta state.
In the analysis of numbers of suspected Internet fraudsters arraigned within the period under review, Oyo again recorded the highest number of suspected Internet fraudsters arraigned, being fourteen (14) cases. While Lagos reported thirteen (13) cases of suspected Internet fraudsters arraigned, Kwara reported nine (9), Edo and the FCT reported seven (7) cases each of suspected Internet fraudsters arraigned.
An analysis of reported cases of convicted Internet fraudsters shows that Rivers state recorded a total number of forty-six (46) convictions; and while Oyo recorded twenty-nine (29) total convictions, Ogun recorded twenty-eight (28), Edo recorded twenty-three (23) and Lagos recorded (19). The jail term ranges from one (1) month, being the lowest observed to 35 years, being the highest observed. In fact, there were two cases of a long jail term. While the next longest jail term was 27 years, the average was between 4 and 6 months.
Meanwhile, it was observed that the total number of convicted Internet fraudsters within the period under review was more than reported cases of Internet fraudsters arraigned before a competent law court. This is so as some Internet fraudsters arraigned outside the period under review were convicted within the period under review.
More significantly, no female suspected Internet fraudsters arrested by the EFCC were arraigned nor convicted by the Commission within the period. Out of 517 suspected Internet fraudsters arrested, twenty-three (23) were females.
While no activities of Internet fraudsters were observed in States such as Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Ebonyi, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara, from the map of Internet fraud in Nigeria attached above, it is obvious that the menace is rapidly spreading across the country, and according to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the country lost about N3.133 trillion to cybercrime annually, and even, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in a recent evaluation of nations in the Global Cyber-security Index placed Nigeria on number four in Africa.
Yahoo boys apprehended by the EFCC were mainly through intelligent reports. They employ various means to defraud their victims, the majority of who are foreigners. The fraudsters use social engineering, phishing emails, and text messages pretending to be sent from banks, requesting for Personal Identification Number (PIN) or revalidation of Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) to defraud their victims.
The nature of fraud perpetrated also ranges from love scam – romance/dating scam by ‘catfishers’ – on dating site or social media, using fake identities and pseudo names, in which a male poses as a female and vice versa, to business scam – fake oil business deals, foreign job scam, fake agrochemical products deals, shopping scam and online marketing scam, also to facebook award scam and to facebook hackers, who specializes in hacking facebook users accounts with the view to defraud.
Usually, the fraudsters, who fall into the age range of fifteen (15) to thirty-nine (39) years of age, rely on a picker to receive money from foreign victims. While some receive money from their victims through Western Union money transfer, others do so through gift cards – Amazon, iTunes and Play gift cards; and also, cases of access card frauds abound.
While a catfisher is an individual who uses the Internet, and in particular, online dating websites to lure people into romance scam, a picker is a fraudster that provides foreign accounts to other Internet fraudsters which they usually used to receive money from any unfortunate victim. A picker is allegedly paid 30% of the total amount received in any of such accounts.
Items recovered from the fraudsters, who operate in syndicates are modems, cameras, printers, keyboards, power banks, Wi-Fi devices, about 200 cars, over 250 laptops, over 1200 phones, over 2200 SIM cards, ATM cards, Indian hemp, Hard Disk Drives, wrist watches and un-used bullets.
Others are international passports, including ECOWAS passport; documents with false pretences, books/diaries of phone numbers and email addresses; fetish objects and charms, an indication that Internet fraud is the marriage of witchcraft to technology in Nigeria.
The sum of over N500,000,000.00, USD 3.2 million, 80,000 Euros, 10,000 Pounds were also reported within the period. According to the EFCC, monies and items recovered from Internet fraudsters are being restituted to victims through the federal government.
While this report may not capture the exact data of Internet fraud activities in the country as data were sourced from reported cases only, it does paint a picture of a body of growing data of Internet fraud activities presently eating deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society. More alarming is that there is a very new trend in the emergence of yahoo yahoo training school across the country.