Men of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have apprehended at least seven suspected internet fraudsters. Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibadan Zonal Office have arrested seven more suspected internet fraudsters. The suspects include, Ola Sam, Dimeji Abiola, Segun Isaac, Oyinloye Jubril, Bamidele Adeboyega, Hassan Afeez and Sanni Muyideen. They were rounded up at Poly Road and Sanyo area of Ibadan, Oyo State, on February 1 and 4, 2019.
Their arrest followed action on a series of intelligence report linking them with various forms of internet fraud. They were alleged to be involved in love scam on different dating sites, through which they fraudulently obtain money from unsuspecting victims. At the point of arrest, EFCC operatives recovered two different models of exotic cars, laptops, telephones and several documents containing false pretences, including international passports, and ATM cards.
They will be charged to court as soon as investigation is completed.
Internet fraud, which is the bastard child of advanced fee fraud (419), has given Nigeria a bad reputation of a country filled with thieves scheming on how to trick innocent people into giving their hard earned cash to them. An American man, Fredrick Haines, lost $110,000 between 2005-2008. Luckily for the 77-year-old man, Western Unionrepaid him his money this month. Not all victims of Internet fraud are lucky to get their money back. This criminal act has ruined many lives and families, banishing them into a life of poverty.
Through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Federal Government has been doing its best to deal with Internet fraud. In May 2018, operatives of the EFCC arrested suspected Internet fraudsters popularly known as Yahoo boys at a nightclub in Lagos. It was a sensational piece of news that grabbed several headlines even though it wasn’t the first time that the EFCC would arrest suspected fraudsters. This incident led to an online discussion on Internet fraudsters and whether they should be branded as criminals or just victims and products of their environment.
Just to clear any doubt, yahoo boys are criminals and they should face the law, prosecuted and jailed for their crimes. Let’s look at the bigger picture. Clearly, Nigeria has a serious Internet fraud which cannot be solved only by regular arrests of these criminals. This approach is merely treating the symptoms and not focusing on the illness. We can arrest 1,000 Yahoo boys in a day and it would do little to stop Internet fraud in Nigeria. For decades, the United States of America has waged a war on drugs. According to Vox, the war on drugs cost America “$1 trillion on anti-drug efforts” as of 2012.
Despite the arrest and death of drug cartel kingpins Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán and Pablo Escobar, America is far from winning the war on drugs. If the Nigerian government unleashes all of Abacha’s loot in fighting Internet fraud, it is a war we are most likely not going to win because it is the wrong approach. To deal with Internet fraud, Nigeria has to take a look at what leads young men into a world of crime. By 2025, there will be over a hundred million Nigerians living in extreme poverty.
According to the Special Advisor to the President on Social Protection, Mrs Maryam Uwais in January 2018, 7% of Nigerians live below the poverty line. This is an alarming statistic that should send our bells ringing. With so much poverty in a land where the minimum wage is N18,000 ($50), it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that young men have gone into a life of crime. Where there is poverty expect criminal acts from the financially disenfranchised. In a bid to live the Nigerian dream (which is to hammer by any means necessary), men and women become online bandits robbing people of their hard-earned cash.
A long-term approach of dealing with Internet fraud is by reducing the poverty rate in the country. If more Nigerians are above the poverty level and the minimum wage is increased to meet the financial demands of the time we are living in, we might witness a drop in criminal activities including Internet fraud. Another problem that has helped the growth of Internet fraud is unemployment. According to the numbers by the National Bureau of Statistics, 16 million Nigerians were unemployed during the third quarter of 2017.
There are not enough jobs to go around and with our alarming population growth, it is clear that we are not producing enough jobs to accommodate the millions of graduates produced annually. As cliché as it may sound, a young person who has no job and lives before the poverty line would most likely enter a life of crime. These factors of unemployment and poverty have led many young Nigerians to crime including Internet fraud. Nigeria’s long-term approach to dealing with this menace will be to reduce the poverty and unemployment rates. If a sustainable approach is developed the level of crime in the country will dwindle.
What have you got to say concerning the menace of internet scam and rituals in Nigeria? Please share your comments in the comment space below.