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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid