Cyber crimes are global in nature. Scammers and swindlers abound in the cyber space all around the world. The advent of the Internet has made it relatively easier to reach out to friends and relatives around the world. Cross-fertilisation of ideas has become a global phenomenon involving folks of all ages, gender, religions and nationalities. The world wide web makes life easier in terms of communication and doing business. But it equally makes life hard and hellish in terms of falling victim to the criminal shenanigans of cyber fraudsters. Today, victims abound from one country and continent to another.
Be it romance scam involving rich white ladies (some old widows with a lot of money to spare on ‘love’) and the poor black boys, corporate or industrial fraud, transfer of dormant fund looted and deposited in a bank somewhere by an African kleptocrat or political fraudster or fraudulent buying and selling of goods and services there are the good, the bad and the ugly as it were.
Unsolicited proposals keep flying left, right and centre as one navigates the web; in your email accounts these proposals are legion bordering on the nonsense and the impossible, yet enticing. From the sublime to the ridiculous one is invited to be a ‘beneficiary’ of huge amount of money whose source or provenance is linked to corruption or tragedy.
Always mentioning millions and billions of ‘abandoned’ funds to be claimed the scam emails may look very lucrative a business deal for the uninitiated. But once you are roped in then your hard-earned money could ‘disappear’ before you know what hits you! It is magical!
For a professional scammer to succeed in his scheme a whole lot of ingenuity is invested in tricking people to fall. Fabricated tales (some damn ridiculous) are told with glee, lies spewed without scruples and forgery of bank documents undertaken with luciferian professionalism. Some even go to the evil extent of engaging the services of fetish or voodoo priests in order to hypnotise their victims.
However, many Nigerians are formidable. Not all of us are scammers and con-artists. There are many decent folks among us out there earning a decent living legitimately. In every society, without exception, as you find good men so shall you find the very opposite, even in the Vatican or Mecca. In the Vatican paedophile crimes involving priests and Bishops are as many as pick-pockets and drug peddlers mingling with true Muslims on Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
Apart from achieving a global ‘feat’ of becoming the poverty capital of the world (dethroning India shamefully on that score) Nigeria is home to the worst crimes and criminals in the world! Is it incest or ritual killing? Is it mind-boggling corruption or organized looting? Is it state terrorism or police brutality? Is it failure of leadership and unexplored youthful talents? Name them, we are champions on a global scale!
Ramon Abbas, commonly known as Hushpuppi, is neither a Ghanaian nor a Gambian but a Nigerian. He was born and bred in Nigeria before he found sophisticated cyber scamming favour abroad, from Malaysia to the UAE. When he was arrested in Dubai by the Americans and taken away to answer to monumental charges of billions of Dollars of wire fraud the wider world took notice of Nigeria once again as the black man’s den of rogues and reprobates.
Hushpuppi may be a scoundrel in the eyes of decent people but he was a hero in those of many others out there, at home and abroad, especially the desperate youths eager to become an Obi Cubana without any dint of hardwork. Yet Hushpuppi was able to penetrate the highest law enforcement agencies in the land using his filthy lucre as a powerful conquering weapon.
The disgraced ‘super-cop’, Abba Kyari, was one of those he used to maintain solid control, as a godfather, over his local business partners and ‘enemies’. When one fell out of line (especially feeling cheated according to the sharing ratio) then the police chief was on the ground to use sundry intimidation or mock arrest to whip you back into line.
He has since been shielded by the Buhari regime; he is neither judged at home nor extradicted to the US to face charges of professional collusion with a professional digital fraudster in the slammer. If Kyari were to be an Igboman or Yorubaman maybe he would have since been transferred to America in deference to the FBI to face justice. But as Fulani blue blood something must not give!
With a Fulani President doing the needful to ‘destroy’ the country before retiring in Daura or answering the divine call to eternal repose we are faced with a perilous times ahead indeed.
Lately, it seems it now constitutes a crime for one to possess a laptop, own a fancy car or sleep in a good hotel or wear a flashy dress. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under the leadership of youthful Abdulrasheed Bawa appear to be on an overdrive pretending to be working hard to rid Nigeria of cyber fraud or nip same in the bud.
Daily online, one encounters disgusting details of molestations, harassments, intimidations and extortions being visited on youths travelling with their laptops or those having a good time in hotels. Or those cruising around town inside their sophisticated automobiles by the EFCC agents or other security agencies across the federation — especially in the South-west and South-east cities and towns.
Pray, does the EFCC or police know who a yahoo boy is by just looking out for who best fits that description on the street? Is ‘419’ ever written on the fore-head of any folk? Has it become a crime to dress well, clutch a laptop, ride a good car or take up residency in a hotel? Is the job of the EFCC persecution or prosecution of economic criminals? How many have they been able to prosecute and jail thus far? And how much has been recovered and transfered to the federal government bank vaults as a result of their efforts in this regard?
Few months ago a video went viral online depicting a disgusting extortion scene in which passengers on a bus somewhere in Kogi state were ‘waylaid’ by some gun-totting security personnel. One of the passengers, a young student travelling with his laptop was forced to go and withdraw some money and give to the ‘armed robbers’ on patrol. He was wrongly accused of being a ‘yahoo-yahoo’ boy!
And recently in the city of Owerri, Imo state, some concerned residents were lamenting the trend in town where armed security agents were daily harassing, intimidating and extorting money from people going about their normal businesses on the streets. When you are sighted inside a clean car, well-dressed, then you might fall victim to the police brutality.
As the Yuletide season dawns on us yet again the fear of the ‘unknown gunmen’ and rogue police officers is the beginning of wisdom! If you are coming in from abroad then you must be vigilant not to be maimed, extorted or even killed by the state and non-state terrorists on the prowl.
Late last November some EFCC operatives had raided ex-Governor Gbenga Daniel’s Conference Hotel in the city of Abeokuta, Ogun state. At wee hours of the night one weekend the EFCC goons stormed the luxury hotel where an elaborate award ceremony reportedly took place forcefully breaking into rooms, stripping, robbing and shooting repeatedly to traumatise guests! The following Monday the EFCC paraded 60 persons arrested inside the hotel labelling them Internet fraudsters!
With #EndSARS revolution now behind us it appears little or no impact was ever made by the blood sacrifices of our dead and buried youths. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) may be history on paper but the police force in general still reek of corruption, brutality and unprofessionalism. Perhaps another round of #EndSARS is called for!
The EFCC and other sister security agencies going after the so-called yahoo-yahoo boys and girls must not abuse their powers by trampling on people’s liberties. Even if anyone is a fraudster it is left for the court of competent jurisdiction to pronounce such person guilty of cyber crime upon presentation of sound evidence to that effect. Intimidating young folks riding good cars or living a good life cannot qualify for justice in the eyes of the law.
If Hushpuppi were to be based in Nigeria one wonders if the EFCC would have been able to apprehend him or prosecute him. He would have used the Babangidaised ‘settlement syndrome’ to beat the system silly! Alas here we are with security agents harassing innocent young Nigerians on the streets and inside hotels seizing their belongings and extorting them. That, in our reckoning, is not how best to catch a yahoo boy!
The bigger executive yahoo-yahoo boys are in the corridors of power from Abuja to other major cities across the federation using pen and paper to fiscally haemorrhage the system. Those ‘caught’ and docked had since regained their freedom by negotiating a plea bargain or bribing their way out. Yet the Buhari regime still mouths about fighting corruption!
Let the EFCC and other concerned security agencies go after these executive thieves for defrauding us of our commonwealth and common humanity instead of chasing after young innocent Nigerians.