Internet Fraud, also known as Yahoo-yahoo, is now the trending form of crime among youths in the country.
It accounts for about 60 percent of the financial crimes recorded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission yearly, especially in the last 10 years according to statistics from the anti-graft agency.
The crime is perpetrated largely by unemployed youths and undergraduate students who are easily identified by their flamboyant lifestyles as many ride flashy, exotic cars.
So pervasive is the crime that some polytechnics and universities have banned students from using personal vehicles on campus.
More alarming was the revelation by the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 2 (Lagos and Ogun), Adeleke Adeyinka Bode, that some men of the Nigeria Police Force are now into cultism and internet fraud.
Speaking in Abeokuta, he said “There are some of our policemen too now that are into cybercrime, popularly know as Yahoo-Yahoo, especially policemen who find themselves in places where we have institutions of higher learning; it is very common. “
Many of the young people who resort to the crime are usually those believed to have the ‘I -want-get-rich-quick’ mentality. Some of them ended up falling into the net of the EFCC which works in partnership with the International Police (INTERPOL) to crack down on cybercriminals.
Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Benin, Enugu
A compilation of arrests and prosecutions made by the EFCC from January to June this year shows that Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Portharcourt, Benin, and Enugu are the cities that recorded the highest number of internet fraud cases.
According to sources in the EFCC, “Yahoo Boys” have turned many of the hotels and guest houses in these cities into operation centers where multi-million dollar cyber scams are perpetrated. Some of these hotels are frequently raided by anti-graft operatives to arrest suspects.
According to the data from the EFCC website, a total of 1057 internet fraud suspects were arrested in all the 14 zonal EFCC commands within the first half of 2022, with 312 convictions. This record, however, does not include other forms of crimes committed within the zone.
Lagos leads with 198 arrests and 40 convictions for internet fraud. The Lagos Zonal Command includes only Ogun State with the big cities including Lagos, Abeokuta, and Ijebu Ode.
Ibadan closely follows Lagos with 197 arrests but got more convictions. A total of 71 persons were convicted under the zone which comprises Oyo, Osun, and Ekiti. Major cities in the zone include Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomosho, Osogbo, Ilesa, and Ado Ekiti which all have a concentration of higher institutions.
Abuja, the nation’s capital, is number three with 149 arrests, but only 14 convictions were recorded. Nasawara State, with the capital at Lafia, is also under the Abuja zone.
Port Harcourt, which comprises Bayelsa and Abia, recorded 126 arrests and 10 convictions to make number four on the list. The major cities are Yenagoa, Aba, and Umuahia.
Benin, which serves as the zonal command for Edo, Delta, and Ondo, is number five with 119 arrests and 64 convictions. Cities in the zone include Benin, Asaba, Warri, Akure, and Ondo.
Enugu follows with 95 arrests and 19 convictions. Other cities under Enugu zone are Owerri, Abakaliki, Awka and Onitsha.
But the internet fraud business is not limited to only the big cities. Nearly all cities in the country have been infiltrated by fraudsters due to EFCC’s onslaught in the big cities.
Ilorin is next with a total of 61 suspected internet fraudsters, but only 23 were convicted. Kogi State, with the capital at Lokoja, is under the Ilorin zone.
Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, comes next with 51 arrests and 17 convictions. Jalingo and Jos are cities under the zone.
In Uyo and Calabar, a total of 47 arrests were made but the EFCC was able to get all the 47 convicted.
In Maiduguri, 7 persons were convicted for internet fraud. Yobe State, with its state capital in Damaturu, is under the Maiduguri zone.
Kano, which comprises Jigawa and Katsina States, recorded 11 arrests with no convictions yet.
Gombe, which includes Adamawa and Bauchi States, recorded the least number of cases with only 3 persons arrested in connection with the crime.