‘Yahoo boy’: Fraudster or hustler

There is now a heroic sentiment attached to it; A ‘robin hood’ factor that romanticizes the scam.

It’s all the rage on Twitter. A debate that keeps resurfacing on Nigerian twitter. Is ‘yahoo yahoo’ fraud or hustle?

It takes many turns this discussion. Some blame the economy; others blame the degree of unemployment in the country. There is now a heroic sentiment attached to it. A ‘robin hood’ factor that romanticizes the scam; taking from the ‘masters’ and giving to the poor and subjugated. The difference though is that the yahoo boys rarely give back to society. They spend lavishly and waste these amounts of money that come easily through scams. They do give freely to friends and loved ones who name them generous.

In twitter debates, some like popular Nigerian musician Davido, have argued that this version of internet scam is a well deserving payback for years of slavery.

There are various definitions of hustle, the accuracy of these variations can be argued in context. Websters Dictionary defines hustle as: “to sell something to or obtain something from (someone) by energetic and especially underhanded activity” or “to sell or promote energetically and aggressively hustling a new product”.

On the streets of Lagos, the word hustle has taken on a new meaning and culture which is “the struggle to make ends meet by trying as many avenues as possible”; not all through dubious means.

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What is ‘yahoo yahoo’?

This is a more internet driven version of fraud. It may require some identity theft or fake phone numbers and bank details, but it is mostly internet based and often referred to as the “short con”. The reason is simple, this variation of internet fraud brings in a smaller score mostly targeting lonely individuals looking for companionship, do-gooders looking to give back, or the vulnerable looking to connect with someone on the internet. Today, most yahoo scams have graduated to military pensions and entitlement theft with separate scams running concurrently by the same fraudster.

This is quite a difference from the “long con” which often involves a face to face, knowledge of the business targeted with very large sums of money and trade. These businesses could range from fake oil deals to digital bank robberies.

By Nigerian law, yahoo boys are offenders under the 419 code. A section of the Nigerian criminal code dealing with advanced fee fraud, charges and penalties.

Who is a yahoo boy?

He is never alone. He is a smooth talker but he needs other ‘partners’ to authenticate a  successful scam which involves the smooth talker the tech person, the document forger, the international call router, the bank connection who is most often a the bank account front and the national security operative who gets a cut after a successful operation in exchange for cover from apprehension.

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With unemployment in Nigeria at roundly 60% of the total population and 80% of the youth population which interprets as 22.64 million people between 18-35 who are either unemployed or underemployed.

This degree of poverty and idleness in a generation with many dependents and increasingly corrupt elites crates an impatience to survive with no regard to moral or ethical values. So, take from those whom you think have more than they need and fix your problems. Possibly, the need to engage in internet fraud is desperate poverty but it gradually becomes greed and wastefulness. Impunity drives the need.

Unfortunately, those targeted, whether foreigners or locals are just working class robbed of their hard earn savings and retirements. There is no point to the robin hood myth if the poorer rob the poor. The huge gulf between the poor and the rich totally erodes the middle class leaving only the haves and the have-nots.

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There is no ethical reason for the Yahoo boy or his dependents to feel guilty about this as the elite who are mostly in positions of governance are blatantly living in opulence while the masses they lead are in dire straits.  Hence the misplaced justification and reasoning that, after all, if wealth is shared evenly and equally poverty will not exist.

Yet, even if we go by the dictionary definition of hustle which is: “to sell something to or obtain something from (someone) by energetic and especially underhanded activity”…Yahoo yahoo whether hustle or fraud remains a scandalous means of living.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central’s editorial stance.

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