Findings have revealed that though arrests, detention, prosecution and even imprisonment of fraudsters are meant to serve as a means of deterring others from entering the same line of business, it cannot be said that the purpose has really been achieved. The Yahoo Yahoo trade as internet scam is called in Nigeria has continued to grow with more people entering on a daily basis.
Though the bulk of the population of Yahoo Boys are between the 18-30 years age bracket, Street Journal’s investigations have revealed that in order not to be left out in the cold, some perpetrators of the conventional advance fee fraud, also often called 419 have become internet compliant and have since embraced the Yahoo line of business.
That the business is lucrative cannot be more obvious, the students among them drive sleek vehicles and they are usually found living in well furnished apartments. They date the prettiest babes and throw the most expensive parties.
Unlike the normal 419, which often involves impersonation and the meeting of the victim and the fraudster, Yahoo-Yahoo is done basically online. There is no physical contact involved. Almost all of the communication is done online and the victim doesn’t get to see the person scamming him or her.
Findings revealed that most perpetrators of the illicit act do not see it as a crime, apparently because it does not involve physical contact or any form of coercion.
Street Journal gathered that the trade actually got the name “Yahoo-Yahoo” from the fact that most of the earliest online scams started from chat rooms back when Yahoo Messenger was the most popular instant message facility.
Fraudsters would simply log in to Yahoo Messenger and enter a chat room where they would pick mates for discussion. Yahoo Boys are known to have preference for Americans and Canadians as chat mates. Over time, the discussion shifts to romance and from there, the Yahoo Boy begins to ask for gifts including money using real and fictitious tales. In no time, the international money transfers start rolling in and the Yahoo Boy smiles to the bank.
Yahoo Boys at times have to pose as females just to swindle susceptible foreigners. Pictures of models and actresses are often used by the con men in the bid to fleece their victims.
Some more daring Yahoo Boys go ahead to purchase goods online with the use of other people’s credit cards. Some of them know about the use of money orders and the purchased goods are promptly sealed and delivered to them via speedpost. And to prevent being caught, Yahoo Boys have enlisted the service of domestic and foreign collaborators. Goods bought with cloned credit cards are often received abroad by their collaborators for onward shipment to Nigeria. Some also have ladies who are used as fronts in case a would be victim needs to engage in a telephone conversation with the supposed lady he has fallen in love with over the internet.
Yahoo boys are often difficult to trace because they hardly use real addresses in their deals and due to the nature of their business that gives them lots of victims, they usually have multiple identities. The average Yahoo Boy has at least two international passports, one for travelling and the other or others as the case may be for identification. Some have as many as four different driver’s licences with which they open accounts in various banks to facilitate easy access to funds that come via international funds transfers. Apart from that, they are always on the news to keep themselves abreast of information and to follow events across the globe.
Another aspect of the Yahoo business is hacking. Some fraudsters have advanced to the level of using computer hacking software. They can hack into the systems of companies and gain access to information including bank details and credit card information. Such cards are at times cloned and used in making online purchases. The owners of the compromised credit cards are fleeced of their hard earned money without their knowledge.
A young man was once reportedly apprehended for hacking into the system of a new generation bank. He was discovered to be making ATM withdrawals usually between 11. 55 pm and midnight. He was arrested after several withdrawals and the bank later found out that he had hacked into the central system and opened an account for himself where he usually removed an insignificant amount from customers’ accounts and later withdraw the funds during the night.
At times, fraudsters clone bank websites and ask customers to click on a certain link to upgrade certain information about their accounts. The links lead nowhere but merely serve as a data gathering system for the hackers. Clicking on such links automatically compromises the customer’s account and makes him vulnerable.
Another scam people still fall for is the lottery scam. When an unsuspecting “winner” gets a notification message of winning a lottery, various methods of obtaining money before the winner would claim the supposed prize are devised. Many Yahoo Boys have been enriched by the amount paid as “tax” by victims of different lottery scams.
Findings have also revealed that attempts have been made to swindle some charity organisations in the past. Fake cheques were sent to the organisations as donations only for the donating Yahoo Boy to ask for part of the donation to be repaid, claiming the organisation was overpaid in error. Accounts were given for the refund based on the assumption that the cheque would not be cashed immediately and that the organization would refund in anticipation of the funds coming in.
Lately, attention has shifted to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Many Fake accounts are created using false pictures and data. Many accounts on Twitter have been compromised after their owners clicked on links sent by fictitious followers.
On Facebook too, some will send an inbox message seeking friendship. Most times, such messages are laced with pictures of an attractive female. Such offers are usually targeted at men.
And to avoid the pressure of law enforcement agents who are constantly on their trail, Yahoo Boys have also sought other places where they can operate. A number of them have reportedly found their ways into Malaysia where they have taken control of the internet scam trade. Some of them come home once in a year to show off the wealth they have been able to acquire.
It has also been found out that Yahoo Boys have gone a step further by introducing a “spiritual” dimension into the business. They sometimes make use of “jazz”(diabolic powers) while conversing with victims. There are also reports that some that started as Yahoo Boys have since moved into money rituals.