Is Fraud Becoming a New National Hobby?

Written by on October 13, 2017

The Guardian investigation shows that ninety percent of university students who live lavish lifestyles are involved in internet scams

We are all familiar with it: Fraud, wayo, 419, “yahoo yahoo” and even yahoo plus. As a society, we have become excessively desensitised to illegal methods of making money. We may even refer to it affectionately, going as far as glorifying it in music and the media as well as coming up with sweet sounding nicknames to refer to it.

This phenomenon became evident while watching a favourite television show. A simple dialogue occurred between a young adult and an older adult. The topic of the Internet came up and the younger adult’s immediate reaction once the internet was mentioned was of course to ask if the older adult was referring to “yahoo yahoo”. The older adult’s reaction, disturbingly, was a passive and nonchalant dismissal of the suggestion.

The conversation, as regular as it may seem, brought one to the realisation that Nigerian society has become strikingly desensitised to fraudulent activity. As fraud is often encountered in all parts of the society from the rampant cybercrimes on the streets to the large scale embezzlement of national resources, it can be argued that fraud has become an everyday Nigerian phenomenon.

Recently, a Nigerian celebrity was arrested in the United States under suspicion of credit card fraud and grand theft, sparking debate about the Nigerian attitude to fraudulent activity. Evidently, fraud is becoming increasingly typical.

Recent studies estimate five million scammers in the city of Lagos. According to a report by Ultrascan AGI, about twelve point seven billion dollars was lost to Nigerian internet scams in the year 2013 alone. Internet fraud has become more widespread in Nigeria especially amongst the youth. The Guardian investigation shows that ninety per cent of university students who live lavish lifestyles are involved in internet scams.

A Nigerian celebrity commented on a feud between two musicians a month ago by insinuating that the term “yahoo boy” – a colloquial term for fraudster – is not an insult. Another disturbing development was that of a fellow Nigerian rapper who also found himself facing serious backlash on social media after criticising other musicians and songs for glorifying fraud. One wonders why we are so easily attracted to material things, with little or no concern for their origins or consequences.

As a people, we can and should do better. We should be more offended by the ‘Nigerian Internet Scam’ stereotype and stigma. We should, in fact, do more to fight it. We should stop defending those who are convicted and we should lead by example. We should strive to show that we are a population of honest, hard-working people, and most of all, that fraudulent activity of any kind cannot and will not be tolerated. May God Bless the people of our beloved Country, Nigeria.


The commentary was written by Funmilayo Adetokubo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, based in Somerset, England, United Kingdom.

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