News / Africa

Arrest of Nigeria 'Yahoo-Yahoo Boys' Angers Locals

Heather Murdock
The Nigerian government is cracking down on Internet scam artists who take millions of dollars monthly from foreign victims. The latest police sweep saw 20 people arrested last week. In the southern city of Benin where the raid took place, some locals are outraged. They say “Yahoo-Yahoo boys,” as they are called, should not go to jail while corrupt politicians rob the people.

On Saturday night in the VIP room of a swanky lounge, young men in crisp polo shirts drink champagne and bottles of expensive scotch. It’s too early to hit the nightclubs, where the real parties will be held later, but a few men stand around low tables, dancing privately to the music.

This scene in Benin City is known as a hotspot for so-called Yahoo guys, Internet con men so-named because Yahoo! was the first program used for the scams when the Internet became available in the early 2000s.

The men call themselves “Gee Boys” - local slang for men that always know “what’s up.”

Internationally, the Yahoo guys are known better as Nigeria’s famous Internet con men and the Nigerian government is currently arraigning 20 suspects.

A few days later, a man named David drives slowly over cracked roads filled with potholes in this worn-out city. He said young Nigerians are ambitious and some turn to Internet fraud because escaping extreme poverty legally in this town requires serious connections.

“Everyone knows it’s wrong, but the truth is that there’s nothing to do. It’s the only way out,” he said.

A man in the back seat wears sunglasses because we’ve only just met and he’s afraid I might have a hidden camera. He said he used to be a Yahoo guy but has since opened a legitimate business.

Still, he defends some scams, like the one where you get an email saying you won the lottery, and you need to send some cash to collect your earnings. He said only greedy people will send the money.

“Did you play any lotto? Did you play anything? Why would you reply like that to me? It’s greed. Let me use that word. It’s just greed,” he said.

Other scams, like using dating services or Facebook to seduce a person before extracting cash, prey on the weak and lonely, he said. He also disapproves of the common practice of using what is believed to be black magic to control victims abroad.

Another man named David said he learned how to do some of the scams years ago, but didn’t go into the business because of heartbreaking messages from people abroad saying they would have to mortgage their homes to pay.

When asked what the government should do to stop them, the former Yahoo guy said the government can’t and shouldn’t do anything.

“It’s them theirselves that’s corrupt. They can’t stop it. Let me tell you something. If you want to stop corruption, you fix yourself, discipline yourself, you work on yourself,” he said.

He added that if corrupt politicians stopped robbing the people, there would be a functioning economy and jobs - an alternative to Internet fraud.

This sentiment is widely shared in Benin City, and many people are angry that regular guys getting ahead, albeit illegally, could be arrested by police, who are believed to take payoffs from the Yahoo boys.

At a sparse shop selling frozen fish, Sunny Duke Okosun, a popular local broadcaster, blames unemployment for the Internet scams, and a host of other woes in Nigeria.

"There is really no interesting statistics to say how much job is being created to checkmate the unemployment problem. So you find that most youths that get involved in Internet scam is also a function of this,” said Okosun.

Others argue that ending the business would harm the local economy and increase crime. Greg Eromomene, an events manager, said that Benin City is much safer now than it was before Internet fraud became the crime of choice.

“Those guys they are like rich people. They cannot easily go break into shops and do those kind of things because that has provided them with a livelihood, a means of living," he said. "Petty thieves have been reduced.

Back on the road, David, the driver, said that before the Internet, armed robbers were so comfortable in Benin City that after breaking into a home, they would sit down and have dinner before hauling away their loot.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: DAVID LULASA from: TAMBUA,HAMISI,VIHIGA,KENY
February 07, 2013 4:25 AM
if the victims are nigerian law makers or locals,then the yahoo yahoo boys would have gotten some slight excuse.


by: John
February 06, 2013 9:35 PM
Easy to understand why the locals would prefer the criminals to rob foreigners rather than them. As you would expect, they don't regard the robbery of foreigners as a crime at all. Sound like perfectly normal human beings, don't they?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid