This will be a three-part story, I will take you into the world of the “Yahoo Yahoo” boys, the saga that has taken over most lives of the young adults in Nigeria especially here in Lagos. Those ones who wants to be rich at all cost. This week, we will look into the background of how this all started, how it has evolved, what led to what and who is doing what? Stay with me till the concluding part, you won’t be disappointed.
If the telephone network providers are declaring huge turn-overs and smiling to the banks with huge profits, if the smartphones distributions are running out of stock, as soon as they receive consignments, if the electronic/computer sellers are having an upsurge in sales of high-end performance laptops, and more worrisome, if young ladies refused to take up any reasonable commercial activities or look for jobs after finishing their education, but want to rock life, as ‘Slay Queens’, the main reason are not far-fetched; the ‘Yahoo Boys’ are in town and are revving up the social and economic engine of the country, Nigeria. Conservative observation put the numbers of Nigerian youths, especially from age sixteen to forty-five engaged in Internet scams deals at over 25 million.
After doing 4 years in Agodi Prisons, Ibadan, Oyo State, over a failed internet scam, now repented, Mr Sarafa Adebambi (not real name) confided in Feferity Magazine that lots of young boys and girls from age 16 are into the permeating scam business. He said that worst hits are the tertiary institutions. He held that over 75 per cent of the male students are involved in internet scam one way or the other, with the female also not lagging too far behind. The females are either operating their love internet scamming schemes independently or in conspiracy with the males who act as “Pimps”. This is because most often than not, the deals usually involved both sexes but to the male Pimps, it’s more for the money or power to control.
The archetypal Lagos internet scammer, popularly called ‘Yahoo Boys’ is not difficult to pick from a mix. He looks different to stand out from a group. Boys, girls, youths in their late teens up to young adults, with weird dressings, tinted hairstyles, some carry all manners of hair braiding styles, some with hair rolls, gold chain dangling recklessly on their neck, hand bangles, mostly in jeans and variously labelled T-shirts with sneakers, and more pronounced, they carry top range smartphones for “effect”.
Fortunately, our Correspondent was in the emerging upscale Ajah area of new Lagos, Lekki Peninsula last week, suddenly a van belonging to the Nigeria Police Special Crime Investigation Department, SCID Panti, Yaba emerged. The vehicle crawled towards the main roads linking all the villages that border the Lagoon. In a jiffy, not a few boys and girls started taking cover. However, two boys and a lady were not that lucky. The security operatives were able to block their escape routes.
The contents of their bags were searched and eventually bundled inside the waiting van. An attempt by our Correspondent to speak with the team was, however, rebuffed. This exactly is their lot. They are easily identifiable and live in constant fear of arrest and harassment by the security men, either those in genuine operations or those looking for what to eat.
To a bureaucratically minded person, they look rather rough and unkempt, but to their class and peers, they are the in-thing in town. They are found majorly at 3-Star hotels and Night Clubs that litters all the nooks and cranny of the State.
The major tools of their operations are their high-level performance Android phones and laptops with good internet connectivity. They subscribe to more than one internet service provider, saving themselves from the hassles of the unpredictable and perennial service interruptions by the providers.
Gone are the days of the senior boys, Lawyers, Accountants, Businessmen and other professionals engaging in ‘Business Frauds’ called Advanced Fee Fraud’ or Obtaining Money Under False Pretences’ also known in Nigeria parlance as “419”, named after a section of the Nigerian Criminal Code. This is computer age, and it is only the information technology-savvy ones that operate now. They have pushed the old shady Oil Block deals, Central Bank license fraudsters into total oblivion.
These young generations of internet scammers display uncommon negative intelligence and wonderful skills of information technology. They open various accounts on many social media platforms with different names and pirated displayed pictures. These chaps hung on the internet for hours oscillating between various social media platforms, most especially dating sites, and in few cases Facebook, sending friendship requests and making bizarre claims. This is just a preamble. The most damaging is that they can hack into any social media accounts to steal personal details and pretend to be the real account owner. There is information that they have started tampering with banks customers’ database where the security is vulnerable. Internet scammers’ activities, however, do not end there. The real ‘Yahoo Boy’ continues to show his nuance in the trade, as love scams, relationship frauds et al do not bring in the much-desired income. And even to hack into financial accounts all carry unexpected risks. More, the tokens generated from such scams are not enough to live ‘big’ and night crawl 3 Star hotels and Night Clubs.
Next week, I will tell you all about the next level the guys are moving into and their modus operandi.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria. Feferity (c) 2019