Internet fraud has been in existence in Nigeria for almost three decades now, and there is no sign of any decline in spite of efforts to stem the tide.
In the last few months, hardly does a week pass without the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) parading young men for cyber fraud or some getting prosecuted for internet fraud-related offences.
Last week, operatives of the Ibadan zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested 33 suspected internet fraudsters, otherwise known as ‘Yahoo-Yahoo Boys’ in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
EFCC said the suspects were apprehended at Adigbe, Ibara Housing Estate Extension, and Idi Ori areas of Abeokuta following a tip-off on their alleged criminal activities.
Young people involved in the illicit business have various ways of duping their victims – mainly foreigners. These include romance scam, email phishing, business email compromise fraud, identity theft, impersonation, and generating bogus business transactions.
Other forms of internet crime involving Nigerian youths include hacking, Automated Teller Machine fraud, credit card fraud, and other illegal cyber activities.
It is so bad now that most of the youth now see this act as the only or major means to make it big. It is disheartening that it has also led to the death of many Nigerian youths as 90% of those involved now seek all kinds of spiritual powers, popularly known as yahoo plus.
More frightening is the fact that no class of youth is spared of this greed of getting rich quick.
According to the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Nigeria ranks 3rd globally in internet crime.
Youths generally are regarded as the leaders of tomorrow, but how can they effectively lead a nation whose reputation they are bastardising and embarrassing? It has been observed that 80% of crimes committed in Ghana are committed by some Nigerian youth living there. The misdeed is mostly internet crimes and their related illegalities.
Not too long ago the FBI and the Nigerian government embarked on a sweep operation of 77 Nigerians involved in internet crimes, and another 167 were detained for computer-related crimes that have been committed, with the recovery of the huge amount of money and other incriminating materials.
Nigeria governments, through their network of anti-financial crime taskforce including ICPC, EFCC, the Nigerian Police and the CBN are now working seriously and joining hands with the international security forces to deal decisively with this menace.
It was reported that in 2015, Nigeria lost about N127 billion to internet fraud. Rising youth unemployment and inconsistent youth development initiatives have strengthened young minds in this unpatriotic pursuit.
Nigerian youth, known for being industrious, intelligent, brave, innovative and witty are now the unsavoury spotlight in many societies.
Nigerian youths must rise up to challenge and change these unpleasant narratives. If only they can come together and speak with one voice, just like they did with the #EndSARS protest, internet fraud will be nipped in the bud.
Those in the diaspora can strive to be good ambassadors of the country and continually contribute to the good of the host country, through positive interactions and engagements. The promotion, growth and love of Nigeria should reign more in our hearts and attitude, as we continue to advocate for a greater, better and brighter Nigeria.
The government can put some measures in place to tackle internet fraud and invest more in education, research and qualitative learning. Sound parental upbringing and nurturing should be upheld by parents as it is usually said that charity begins at home.
Above all, governments at every level must provide quality legislation, policies, programmes, incentives to ensure that the youths are properly guided to achieve their noble pursuits in life.