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Nigeria’s ‘419’ email scams uncovered: The truth behind the Yahoo Boys

We have all come across them. Well, those of us who have ever had an email address have come across them.

They have filled our inboxes for two decades, promising us lottery wins, no-lose business deals and unrequited love.

They are ‘419 scams’, named after the Nigerian Criminal Code number for the fraud – the country where it originated.

We have been asked to claim a large cash prize by sending off money to cover a registration fee or bail out someone trapped in a foreign country. Most of us delete them.

But a tiny number are duped and part with cash to their financial and emotional cost. And, for that reason, the emails continue to come.

Advance fee fraud has been going on for hundreds of years. It originates in the Spanish Prisoner scam of the 16th century, where the victim paid money to secure the release of a wealthy nobleman from jail with the promise of substantial rewards.

The modern 419 scam began in the 1980s, when Nigeria’s economy waned. It was carried out by graduates who couldn’t get a job and was used in letter or fax form to trick western businessmen into putting money into non-existent oil deals.

Once the power of the internet kicked in, the scam went electronic. And that’s when the Yahoo Boys came in.

They made their name by bombarding Yahoo! email accounts. Now a university study, believed to be the first of its kind, has interviewed 40 of them.

‘They are very brave and resilient,’ said Dr Joshua Oyeniyi Aransiola, a sociology lecturer who carried out the study via Obafemi Awolowo University in the Nigerian city of Ile-Ife.

‘Most of the Yahoo Boys are aged 22 to 29 and are concentrated around cities with higher institutions of learning.’ They also spend many hours gleaning information about potential target groups.

Dr Aransiola and his researchers spent six months gaining their trust and they agreed to be interviewed without revealing their identities.

They ‘usually brag, do things loudly, drive flashy cars and change cars frequently’, the report found.

It adds: ‘They wear the latest clothes and jewellery. They spend lavishly, love material things and go to clubs.

‘They are prominent at parties, picking up prostitutes at night. They speak coded languages and use coded words such as ‘‘Mugun’’ and ‘‘Maga’’, which means ‘the fool’ (ie their victim).

Some of the scams include making business proposals, online dating, bombing of mails and so on.’ Dr Aransiola said: ‘When they target individuals, they take their time to get as much detailed information about the person as possible.’

Hundreds of thousands of people are contacted, paying as little as £20, £30 or £60. But if enough fall into the trap it makes it worthwhile.

More than half of those interviewed had been engaged in cybercrime for five to seven years, and 95 per cent are undergraduate students.

They are products of their times. Unemployment is 24 per cent in Nigeria but among young people the figure is even higher.

They often go to extreme levels to achieve success.

If a Yahoo Boy is pretending to be a woman to lure a target into giving him more money, he might use his girlfriend to speak to the victim on the phone.

Many scammers use voodoo to give them good luck. The will make incisions on their bodies, sleep in cemeteries and cite incantations.

One 25-year-old Yahoo Boy told the university: ‘I have used it but I have stopped because of the fear of repercussion. With the aid of voodoo the money comes faster.’

Widespread corruption among the police, security forces, bank officials, postal agents and couriers helps to ensure their plans run smoothly.

Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/newsfocus/891926-nigerias-419-email-scams-uncovered-the-truth-behind-the-yahoo-boys#ixzz1oL59GOWA

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March 7, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. i was scammed for months so i play them at there own game now

    Comment by angela brown | March 7, 2012 | Reply


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