Should The Federal Government Legalize Yahoo-Yahoo?
This particular verse of the Living Things song by 9ice was a popular saying in 2017.
The song was meant for only one set of people – The Yahoo guys. The Yahoo guys were everywhere in 2017. It was like a movement. They kept on multiplying in 2017. They didn’t stop at that though.
They kept on disturbing every street and community they’re found in with their assets. From the latest luxurious cars to designer wears to flamboyant houses. It was just too oppressing for those who had decent jobs.
There are stories of how in a not too populated street, Yahoo boys bought lands, built houses and started living there.
There are cases of teenagers and secondary school students also been involved in internet scams. Theirs is small scale, mainly Facebook lotto and online dating sites which give them a range of $100-200.
The version of Internet fraud that has earned Nigerians a reputation across the globe started in the final third of the 1990s. Sometime after Yahoo Mail was created in 1997, scammers found that they could replace their hand-written letters with the freedom and immediacy of electronic mail messages, and they moved in droves.
This shift is also why the scammers became known as Yahoo boys, for their preference for Yahoo Messenger, easily the most important tool of their trade.
Nowadays, what mail service they use is about as important as the color of the shirt they wear while making phone calls.
Insignificance doesn’t begin to describe it.
But in the face of this greed and extravagance, and the threats that come with them, more young people are turning to love scams and retail fraud as a means of survival.
“BABY, SEND 300 USD. I JUST WANT TO EAT”
For these few, grandiose dreams of homes on Lagos’ Banana Island are not a right; the purpose is far simpler for them: get enough money to have 3 meals a day, clothes on their shoulders, a roof over their heads and an average lifestyle.
Cyber-criminals are high on the priority list for local law enforcement like the Police and more particularly the Federal Arm of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS). Suspected g-boys are harassed at any chance and raids are very frequent.
A SARS raid is a Yahoo guy’s worst nightmare.
Outside Nigeria, the case is the same and , for very obvious reasons, more of these fraudsters end up in jail.
Contrary to popular belief, the most basic forms of Internet fraud often require little more than a laptop, a mobile phone, and an internet connection. It is why in recent years, more young people have turned to Internet scams. The reality is that it is more accessible.
But it’s never too long till basic level ceases to be enough and even the most content guy decides he wants to play in the big leagues.
What he finds is that, while big returns are almost certain, much is expected. Sometimes, too much. The most desperate often go to very extreme and fetish ends.
Yahoo Boys are effectively the new drug barons, and they get the full package to merit their status.
Praise-singing has now become par for the course as musicians find a way to insert their names and pay respect to fraudsters who are either sponsors, friends or both.
One of the earliest instances is 9ice’s “Living Things” where he notably hails some of Lagos’ more infamous internet fraudsters. For context, one of these fraudsters has a massive social media following, with over 350,000 followers on Instagram.
More recently, there is “Penalty”, the underground hit by Small Doctor; the last minute of the song is a literal roll call of the cream of Lagos’ digital underworld.
For young people living in today’s Nigeria, the future is more gloomy than it shows signs of being bright.
There is little hope of paid employment for the hundreds of thousands who leave tertiary institutions every year and this in itself, can be enough explanation for the choice that these young men have turned to.
Yet, there is really no explanation. The reality is that turning to options like internet fraud is really the easy choice.
These days, we have more Yahoo boys than the number people!