Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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A new Time Bomb?

Yahoo boys as new time-bomb
By Louis Odion(Editor, Sunday Sun,Lagos)

A new plague is infesting our society today. It is called Yahoo-Yahoo. For those who are yet to observe, it is the story of a growing number of our teenage population taking to cyber scavenging and mugging. Because it is easy money and risk of punishment is minimal, the bug is fast catching on in the neighbourhoods.
How does the Yahoo-Yahoo work? It is the amateur variant of 419, though by no means less despicable.

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The practitioners are usually young school-leavers, undergrads or graduates. Success in the game is dependent on how IT savvy you are. Indeed, the world has entered the digital age. Ideally, seeing our teenagers scrambling to log onto the cyber space should come as good news. For, it gives the promise that they will tap the limitless possibilities of the virtual library unlike the older generations whose horizons could not rise above the accommodation provided by the community library. But the tragedy now is that that IT proficiency is being deployed to devious schemes.

Day and night, the boys and girls would be found at business centres, browsing, literally scavenging the cyber café, shopping for easily disposable goods like laptops and CD players on offer on the e-market to be bought with fake credit cards. Mistaking apple for orange, the seller jump at such requisitions. But usually, the merchandise would have made its way halfway across the Atlantic before the suppliers detect the scam. Otherwise, the boys appeal to the emotions of unsuspecting victims by spinning pathetic stories of grinding poverty or being orphans at point zero, unable to pay fees for a crucial examination.

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Once the deal is done, it is a big celebration for the boys back home. The proceeds go for conspicuous consumption. For the girls, the scheme takes a far more grotesque dimension. Through the facility of chat rooms, they engage lecherous men on the other side of the Atlantic. Some cyber cafes actually have Internet cameras through which images could be transmitted. Some do strip. The whispers of romance are soon trailed by monetary demands by the girls. The money is soon wired down via Western Union by the infatuated lothario. So, at banking halls these days, it is very common to see young girls queuing at the counter to cash $100 or $200. Of course, that goes into the acquisition of more spaghetti tops, lingerie, thongs, ski pants, G-Strings and the likes.

The Yahoo crimes, it must be stressed, flourish in absence of stiff sanctions from the law and society’s permissiveness. Indeed, cyber jurisprudence is just evolving in the country. The existing Criminal Code is ambivalent on such issues. If section 249 of the Criminal Code were applied, the sanction is rather mild. The worst its letters prescribe is one-month imprisonment for anyone found guilty. The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is trying hard to fill the vacuum. The Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led commission has been waging a relentless war through raids on cyber cafes.

But rather than abate, the monster seems to consolidate. Indeed, you can’t stop people from establishing business centres. Neither can you stop people from owning computers or retailing Internet access. So, if dislodged at one point, the imps simply regroup at another location.

Ultimately, the Yahoo-Yahoo phenomenon has dire implications for the long-drawn battle being waged – and seemingly won – by EFCC against the 419 mafia in Nigeria. Full-time 419 is dominated by more experienced crooks. But winning the battle against 419 is not the same as winning the war. Thanks to drastic – if not ruthless – measures of the security agency, we hear and see less and less of the 419 kingpins of old nowadays. But that regicide, it is necessary to clarify, applies only to the old guard. It will, therefore, be naïve not to see

Yahoo-Yahoo now as the nursery where future 419 champions are being groomed.
Few weeks back, a fellow called the Glo line of yours sincerely in the middle of the night. The caller ID was concealed. A smooth-talker, the character claimed to be calling from Amsterdam. Platitudes over, he began to talk in respect of a “big business” for which he desperately needed a Nigerian partner. I didn’t allow him to continue before asking how he got my number in the first place.

“Oh!, there is this buddy of yours in Amsterdam who gave me and assured me you are dependable in fixing business,” he retorted, still sounding confident.
“His name?”

The question obviously caught him off guard. He began to stammer. Sensing a 419 plot, I added: “If you and your partner did your research well, you would have known I am an ordinary journalist. I don’t have the kind of money 419 people are after.”
The line went dead…

I have heard arguments seeking to justify the Yahoo-Yahoo phenomenon. Some see it as another form of “reparations”. True, lechery is not something to be proud off. For that reason, some would, in fact, wish that these offshore cradle-snatchers be bankrupted by any means possible. But my worry is the kind of society we will end up breeding. Unfortunately, the amateur 419 artists are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow. Certainly, what we are incubating is ethical pestilence. And as we say in Edo, “Those for whom people are praying haven’t prospered, how then can those on whom a curse has been placed succeed.”

When youngsters get hooked on profit without work, they invariably lose faith in industry. Unless more drastic steps are taken, we shall be paying a huge social price in the years to come. We risk breeding a generation who don’t believe in the dignity of labour and integrity.

What is to be done? A multi-pronged approach is needed here. Government and NGOs need to come up with fresh ideas on how to channel the boundless energies of the teenagers to positive engagements. Indeed, it is a new world. Having said that, the greater share of that responsibility lies with parents themselves. As the primary socializing agents, much is expected of dads and moms. They are supposed to take more than a casual interest in the company their wards keep and the life they live.

Of course, the big question is whether parents themselves live above board. You cannot possibly give what you don’t have. More culpable, as the Yoruba would say, is the parent who, seeing his/her child sneak home daily with assorted garment, chooses not to ask questions. Yet, your ward is not known to be a drycleaner or tailor. What more proof do you need to confirm a rogue?

Culled from Sun Newspapers

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April 15, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I like and play all sorts of mafia games myself, they are very fun to play. There are so many different types on the net. I am more into fast paced games, then the slower based mafia games myself. I like mafia games that have a lot of players in them that makes them a lot more fun!

    Comment by Mafia Game | July 6, 2007 | Reply

  2. I am a single, gay guy, who has met two different Black guys, on a gay website, operating out of Hong Kong. Both had pictures and profiles. One claims to be a nurse, operating with the Red Cross in Nigeria, but originally receiving a B.SC degree from one of the universities. The university says it has no record of this individual. Unfortunately, the Nigerian Red Cross, will not respond to my question whether they have such a individual working for them. He has not asked for any money so far. The other guy, is from Ghana, I believe, and he has asked for financial assistance. I have offered none. I suspect both guys are fake. My gut is telling me that both are fake.

    Comment by Matt | August 8, 2007 | Reply

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