By Seye Alaba
People have always wondered where the term ‘yahoo yahoo’ came from. Yahoo! is a web service that provides a web portal, mail services and others. It is not as common as Google these days. As it turns out ‘yahoo yahoo’ can be traced back to the 1980s and 1990s. It was coined due to the fact the above-mentioned Yahoo! service was a means of communicating globally.
During the earlier days of the Internet, the only way to do anything on the web was to go to a cyber cafe. The first set of these cybercafes opened in the late 1990s in Nigeria and gave the country its first taste of globalisation of this nature.
This is how it worked: you went into a cyber cafe, bought tickets for an hourly basis or less and did whatever you wanted to do before the time ran out. This could be from checking your emails to researching. But for many web surfers, cyber cafe time was mostly spent chatting with friends and family all over the world using an online service called Yahoo! Messenger.
And this is where the term, ‘yahoo yahoo’ came from. Subsequently, with the use of cybercafes in the 1990s scamming became easier.
Cyber cafes provided access to Yahoo! mail and a new way of communication, and new ways of making money.
Young people who took up online scamming would have other young people they would teach and the cycle continued like that. Soon a whole generation of online criminals was formed. Yahoo! became popular in Nigeria, but not for the right reasons!
The authorities did try to stop them through raids on cyber cafes and the number of cyber cafes reduced considerably. It was noted that between 2006 and 2008, following constant police raids, ‘yahoo yahoo’ took a pause.
Soon enough the adoption of portable devices such as smartphones and laptops hit the Nigerian markets in the early 2010s. This brought about an end to the widespread use of cybercafes and gave rise to a mobile generation of cybercriminals. These criminals now known as ‘Gboys’ are able to operate free from the shackles of cyber cafes.
With the improvement in technology has come a greater sophistication in how scamming takes place. With language translators, online scammers are able to communicate in languages they have never learnt and this makes them more effective.
How online criminals go about scamming people
According to sources with the help of social media, things have become somewhat easier for online scammers. What they do is go to social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to look for potential clients. They call this ‘bombing’.
There is what is called the ‘apartment’ trick. This is one of the most common types of ‘yahoo yahoo’ jobs. To pull off the scam, the fraudster will do several things meant to portray them as real estate agents or realtors. This often includes creating a nice-looking website. The fraudster will then upload fake photos of luxurious houses purporting to be selling the properties.
An unsuspecting buyer, lured by the images, decides to make payment into a specified account to purchase the property. In reality, the property depicted in those images is never for sale or is actually located in another country.
Once the payment has been made, the fraudster shuts down the website or blocks the person who made the payment. This method typically targets older people or those with reading-related challenges.
Web freestyle: Many beginner ‘yahoo yahoo’ fraudsters in Nigeria start off their ‘trade’ with this technique. The method involves creating a fake profile on popular dating websites. The scammer then poses as a needy student, divorced wife/husband, or any other persona to stir their victims’ emotions. Once the victim falls in love with the impersonator, they will probably begin sending them money before deciding to meet in person.
Unsolicited email: This scam is designed to prey on people who love winning free stuff. The scammers collect numerous email addresses belonging to locals and foreigners. They then send them emails notifying them that they have won a jackpot or lottery. The victim is then asked to send a small amount as a ‘processing fee’ for the award. Once they send the amount, the scammer cuts all communication.
How they stay hidden
You might be wondering how ‘yahoo yahoo’ scammers stay discreet. This is achieved through the help of virtual private networks (VPNs).
Before the advent of VPNs, it was quite easy to trace a person carrying out internet fraud. This was because the IP address of the device the person used was easily visible and traceable. VPNs make this tracing very tricky by masking a person’s actual location. Instead, the VPN shows the user to be located elsewhere, most often in a different country.
Dealing with the issue
The government should take measures to educate the public, especially young people, about the dangers of scams and cybercrime. The authorities should also enforce strict laws and regulations to prevent these cybercrime activities from happening. Additionally, the government should invest in technology and resources to help law enforcement agencies track down and prosecute those who engage in cybercrime.
Sadly, many parents no longer bother to ask their children in higher institutions, who should be focused on graduating at the top of their class, why they are driving around in the newest cars with no clear source of income. Parents should be held accountable for their children and train them in the right way.
Experts say that parents are usually the most important people in their children’s lives. Their views and behaviours can have a good or bad influence on their children’s behaviour including offending behaviour.
They add that children are much less likely to get into trouble if their parents: have a good relationship with them and can talk openly with them; can agree sensible, clear rules and encourage them to stick to them as much as possible and know where they are and what they are up to.
Government should also improve job opportunities because Due to a lack of employment alternatives, the majority of young people turn to cybercrime. Because of the large number of unemployed young people in Nigeria, the majority of them resort to cybercrime to make ends meet. Youth may not feel the need to engage in criminal activity if they have appropriate work and job opportunities.
Parents, religious leaders, and higher institutions of learning should all play their respective parts in educating the youths about the impacts of cybercrime. They should discourage the act through parental teaching, religious sermons, and academic rules and regulations.
Apart from the above tips, society at large also has a role to play in minimizing the pressure mounted on the younger generation to become rich at a young age.