EMEKA IBEMERE, reports the activities of advance fee fraudsters, popularly known as 419ers, in Lagos and how bank workers and police are making money from them while they run their show, They came in a group of five boys, adoring ear rings as they sagged their soiled jeans trousers with fried hairs of poor street beauticians while clutching keys of a jeep.
As they hopped down from the jeep and made their way to the security door of one of the old generation banks in Ikotun area of Lagos, the bank security staffs and the Nigeria mobile policemen attached to the bank started exchanging pleasantries with them.
One of the policemen called all of them by their names and ushered them inside the bank. Inside the bank and despite the crowd that queued at the section of the Western Union Money Transfer, the banker on the other side of the counter equally treated them like kings and within ten minutes of their arrival, left the banking hall with smiles while those who came before them were still wondering what has taken place. At this point, you don’t need any introduction—-419.
This is the new world of advance free fraudsters in Nigeria!
In all branches of the banks, this special treatment are being given to this scammers by bank workers who facilitates the easy withdrawal of stolen money apparently from abroad without cursory checks and proper investigations before releasing the loots to the fraudsters.
Even the Nigeria police are also culprits in aiding and abetting advance free frauds popularly known as 419. Our correspondent gathered that recent raids and stop and search conducted by the police on daily basis are meant to enrich the police officers who raids cyber cafes and collects bribes from the suspects and leave them afterwards.
It was gathered that each time police suspects a group of boys in a car, they arrest them and after the haphazard searches, and after discovering any implicating documents, will negotiate with the boys and collect their own share; the rest is history!
A yahoo, yahoo boy or boys are known by their attires. The people who are in the shady business are mostly illiterates, including university and secondary school students. Their ages are between 16 to 38 years. Even some bank workers and other professionals have keyed into the scam practices.
They are so financially buoyant to attain clubs, parties and buy expensive jewelries, move with girl their different friends and live in expensive rented houses. Those in the university attend classes with expensive cars and live outside campus with well equipped facilities. For yahoo, yahoo boys, poor electricity supply doesn’t concern them as their generators are always on as long as their megabytes can carry them and their phones are so expensive that you may think they are Senators and Governors. These boys have no any visible means of livelihood but lives big and drive the best of cars.
Millions of Naira, Dollars, Pounds sterling and Euros are been ferried to Nigeria through the activities of scammers who have developed new ways to try to convince people that their money-grubbing cons are really genuine. Nigerians and their collaborators in Europe dupes their victims who are gullible on daily basis even as the activities of these boys have gone global and with new improved banking systems and anti-graft technologies, people still fall victims to these criminals.
On a daily basis, many Nigeria businessmen and women, ladies, professionals and even the old ones lose chunk of money through fake internet marriage, oversea visa scam, contract proposals, love scams and other various ways adopted by these scammers using social platforms. Facebook, wahtsapp, badoo, instagram, and other new media platforms are cheap apps to defraud their victims.
“There would be no 419 scam if there are no greedy, credulous and criminally-minded victims ready to reap where they did not sow,” EFCC official explained to our correspondent in Lagos.
In a desperate effort to contain the embarrassment of internet scammers, the Nigerian government established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Despite the Commission’s existence, advance fee fraud is still thriving to date. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission claimed it secured the conviction of over 288 persons due to internet fraud in 2012
They come in several variation which include: Hacking into Facebook accounts, then sending messages to all the listed friends claiming the account owner is in trouble and asking for cash to be wired for their rescue; collecting names and email addresses of people who leave messages on obituary site guest books and contacting them with a request for money, supposedly on behalf of the bereaved person; sending complimentary messages to bloggers and article authors (both online and in print) as a way of establishing a friendship that, sooner or later, results in a cash-call attached to a tale of woe; offering to buy your Internet domain name, then asking you to visit a site (their site) where you have to pay to have it valued; and using Microsoft Word documents as attachments. These contain details of the scam story but, because they are not in the main body of the email, they often don’t get picked up by scam detectors in your security software.
This is a typical advance fee fraud letter and this letter may have been sent to one million people as you read it.
“Dear friend, How are you doing with your entire family, hope fine?
Forgive my ire if this message comes to you as a surprise. I got your contact when I was searching for a foreign reliable partner. I am Mr. Budi Kaya, the Head of file Department in BANK OF AFRICA (BOA). In my department I discovered an abandoned sum of $10.5 million U.S.A dollars. The above sum was resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for project ZACA Ouagadougou Burkina Faso about thirteen years (13) ago by a foreign contractor who died along with his family in the Asia Earth Quake Disaster TSUNAMI DISASTER INDONESIA and since I got the information about his death, I learn that his supposed next of kin or relation died along side leaving nobody behind for the claim. As a civil servant, I can’t operate a foreign account; that is why I require your assistance to claim the fund as the beneficiary. If you find this proposal acceptable, the total sum above will be sheared as follows: 50% for me, 45% for you and 5% for any expenses incidental to the transfer. Note: You have to keep everything secret as to enable the transfer move very smoothly into the account you will prove to our bank. I am waiting to your reply and respond immediately, contact me through my Private email: ([email protected]) yours faithfully, Mr. Budi Kaya.”
Wikipedia described an advance-fee scam in Nigeria as a type of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick.
The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears. There are many variations on this type of scam, including the 419 scam, the Spanish Prisoner scam, the black money scam and the Detroit-Buffalo scam. The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now prevalent in online communications like emails.
Online versions of the scam originate primarily in the United States, the United Kingdom and Nigeria, with Ivory Coast, Togo, South Africa, Benin, the Netherlands, and Spain also having high incidences of such fraud. The scam messages often claim to originate in Nigeria, but usually this is not true. The number “419” refers to the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud, the charges and penalties for offenders.
The scammers have come up with a new twist to their 419 scams. In the past, many people who responded to the 419 e-mails simply did not have money to send the scammers needed for the victims to get their millions. To get around that problem, and to keep a willing victim in the scam, they have now developed financiers who will give the victim a loan until they receive the trunk box of money.
Before now, Yahoo Boys could be easily located in areas like FESTAC, Oshodi, Ajah, and Okota in Isolo, Apapa, Orile, and Ajawo Estate Jakande all in Lagos metropolis, and visits cyber cafées to send scam e-mails to unsuspecting foreigners and Nigerians alike. But with improvement in digital communications, the number of yahoo boys frequently visiting cyber cafes have reduced hence they do it in their homes without any fear of police raids.
Just recently, a new generation bank handed over to operatives of EFCC two secondary school leavers whose bank accounts were found to containing N18.7 million. The youths, who confessed to be unemployed, said they got the monies through the Internet.
On Wednesday, December 14, 2016 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigned one Chike Akwittis alias ‘Dr Justified Isioma Nnaemeka’ also known as ‘Emeralds Chike’ before Justice Sylvanus C. Oriji of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Apo, Abuja on a 4-count charge bordering on marriage scam and theft.
Akwittis allegedly entered into a fake marriage agreement with a road safety official and in the process swindled her of several millions of naira to the tune of N6.7million. The offence contravenes Section 1 (1) (a) and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.
Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC spokesman told our correspondent that the accused was also accused of stealing $3000 (three thousand dollars) belonging to her boss’ wife, claiming that the chief priest in his village said it was a ‘spirit’ that stole the money. “By this act of theft, the accused has breached Section 286 (1) and punishable under Section 287 of the Penal Code.” He said.
Upon arraignment, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the four counts when they were read to him. In view of his plea, counsel to EFCC, Ola T. Oji, urged the court to fix a date for hearing and asked that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending trial. However, the defence counsel, U. C. Oparaujo through an oral application prayed the court to grant his client bail. Relying on Section 158