Author; Margaret Ogbonnah
The invention of the internet technology marked a remarkable turn- around in the life of citizens of the world. The Internet has facilitated global business and social interactions. It has indeed turned the world to a global village. It has greatly contributed in enhancing communication and interaction between people irrespective of their location in the globe. However, rather than maximizing these benefits which the internet offers, some youths have turned the innovation to a monster and Internet Fraud is one of the monsters created through the use internet.
Furthermore, fraud is a wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. It is an intentional deception made for personal gain. The specific legal definition of fraud varies by legal jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Nigeria has been at the frontline of internet fraud and other cybercrime around the globe. The nation has been marked for its peak involvement in cyber-enabled crimes which is prevalent among the youth. This prevailing attitude has posed threats to the moral, intellectual, legal, and financial development of youths in Nigeria.
Moreso, the technological advancement in the digital world has provided a comfortable springboard for the increase of Internet Fraud in Nigeria. Consequently, Internet Fraud is seemingly an uncontrollable Plague in the country. It is pertinent to state that although laws have been created to act as a shield over cyberspace, therefore protecting and preventing the occurrence of internet fraud, the occurrence of internet fraud in Nigeria is still at its peak.
This article examined Internet Fraud and its adverse effects on the Nigerian Economy. It also highlights Internet fraud as being harmful to the country and having a disparaging effect on the country’s reputation globally.
Definition of Internet Fraud
The term internet fraud refers to a fraud scheme that uses email, website, chat rooms, or message boards to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or others connected with the scheme. It is a type of cybercrime or deception which makes use of the internet and could involve the hiding of information or providing incorrect information for the purpose of tricking victims out of money, property, and inheritance.
Moreso, Internet fraud is increasing astronomically in Nigeria. It is simply a fraudulent scheme employed by criminal minded citizens to sustain unearned luxurious lifestyle. It is no news that Nigeria is a country infamous for cyberenabled crime.
Brief Origin of Internet Fraud in Nigeria
The origin of internet fraud in Nigeria can be traced back to the 1970s. During this period, internet fraud was perpetuated by the sending of postal letters, and fax mails. In the late 1990s the above practice began to phase out because cybercafes began to spring up in various metropolitan areas in Nigeria. Internet fraudsters began to use cybercafes as a tool for defrauding the victims of their crimes, Therefore, the activities of this set of cyber fraudsters became popular at cybercafes, as this became centers for interacting with their potential victims.
Moreso, Due to the technological advancement in Nigeria, there was a phasing out of the use of cybercafe centers for internet fraud by the mid-2010s, and the use of more attractive internet enabled computing systems and mobile phones as a potent tool for internet fraud till date.
In a nutshell, Nigeria has consistently experienced a rapid technological advancement in the digital world, while the technological advancement provided a lot of economic benefits, it also provided a comfortable springboard for the increase of Internet Fraud in Nigeria. It is important to state that with advancement of technology in Nigeria, a new breed of cyber fraud criminals known as yahoo-yahoo boys who are popularly named after the online mailing service ‘yahoo mail’ has thrived in Nigeria.
The Reign of the Illicit Trade of Internet Fraud “Yahoo Yahoo” in Nigeria
It is commendable to be optimistic about the continuous advancement of technology in Nigeria, however, it is equally important to not lose sight of the negative effect of technology in the economy. The illicit trade, locally referred to as yahoo yahoo, which is also referenced in section 419 of the criminal code of Nigeria is an epidemic directly created by the use of internet.
This crime has been embraced unashamedly with pride by large numbers of Nigerian youth as a subculture. This is an indication that it is the new normal, despite the country’s criminal justice system being stoutly against it. The common plight among Nigerians who engage in this crime is the poor economic situation of the country which begs the question; will the rate at which people commit this scandalous crime be reduced if the economy of the country was sustainable?
Historically, Nigeria, has produced notable internet fraudsters in recent years, one of which is Ramon Abbas a well-known internet fraudster in Nigeria. He is also referred to as Hushpuppi. Hushpuppi, is the leader of one of the record-breaking transnational money heist communities.
Consequently, the FBI considers him to be one of the world’s most high-profiled fraudster, whose internet fraud cuts across the globe. Remarkably, he is known as a key player in transnational cybercrime network. His groundbreaking money heist which was reported to be the last was at the United Arab Emirates costing victims millions of dollars.
Moreso, Hope Olusegun Aroke, a Malaysia based Nigerian undergraduate fraudster who is serving a 24 years jail term at the kirikiri maximum prison in Lagos was reported by EFCC to be the leader of an intricate web of internet fraud schemes. It is also popularly reported that he carried out a mega scam of over one million dollars despite being imprisoned.
Finally, there is no dearth of internet fraud in Nigeria, the instances cited above are reported cases, with international and national recognition. It is pertinent to state that there are other countries with exceptional technological advancement however, internet fraud is not embraced as a subculture amongst the youths, rather it is recognized and treated as a crime. In Nigeria, with the existing political and social corruption in the system, internet fraud has become the new celebrated normal.
Adverse Effect of Internet Fraud in the Nigerian Economy
- Internet Fraud is a common plague, it can and does affect every country of theworld. However, when it is handled poorly, internet fraud can result in anerosion of trust in government and industries, and lead to a loss of international and economic reputation. This is particularly true when the internet fraud is facilitated by corruption and perceived by the global world to be supported by the government. In Nigeria, it is common knowledge that the prevalent fraud in Nigeria is thriving because of the existing corruption in the system already. This has earned us a bad reputation in the global world, thereby reducing foreign investment in Nigeria, which has affected in totality the growth of our economy.
Moreso, the reputational damage affects even individuals in Nigeria, as the global world has no confidence in Nigerians, within and outside the boarders of the country. Every investor is mindful of being ripped off their money. This also affects the financial output of Nigerians which in the long run affects the economy.
Finally, it is reported that government entities generally lose between 0.5% and 5% of their spending to Internet fraud and related loss based on international estimations. The majority of these fraudulent activities are undetected and can be difficult to categorise, and all these loses contributes to low economic output in Nigeria.
- Internet Fraud has resulted in distorted markets. It has created a marketsystem where fraudsters obtain competitive advantage and drive outlegitimate businesses. This has affected services delivered by businesses in Nigeria and exposed other sectors to further incidences of fraud.
- Internet Fraud has undermined national defence and security in Nigeria andthis has contributed to negative output in the economy.
- Internet fraud has affected our economy negatively because it has damagedour international standing and has affected the ability of our nation to getinternational support.
- Alot of funds are lost to internet fraud, some of which are eventually used tofund organised crime groups and terrorism, potentially leading to furthercrime and terrorist attacks.
- The final output of any crime is disorder, internet fraud has created instabilityin the country and once instability is prevailing in any country, the economyis bound to suffer, and this is the present situation in Nigeria.
- The uniqueness and innovation of the internet fraud demands a creation of anagency, dedicated to handling only internet fraud cases, independent ofinterferences from other agencies. Example like the Federal-Competition-andConsumer-protection Act 2018 establishes the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection commission for the protection of the right of consumers, an agency dedicated to curbing of internet fraud should be set in place.
- The law enforcement agencies should make it an obligation to strengthen andenhance national cyber defenses. This will help to reduce the rate of internetfraud, making it possible to detect any form of fraudulent activity.
- Sensitization of youth is a necessity, in order to curb the rate of internet crimein Nigeria, it is important to educate the youths on the consequences of engaging in internet fraud.
- There should be immediate and timely prosecution and punishment ofconvicted fraudsters to serve has public deterrence to the public the practice ofplea bargain for internet crimes should be discouraged.
Finally, Countering internet fraud in Nigeria will aid stability and encourage growth in the economy. This is attainable by strengthening law enforcement capacities. It is possible to ensure that the internet is a force for good and not a springboard for deceit.
- (PDF) Evaluation of Fraud and Control Measures in the Nigerian Banking Sector (researchgate.net)
This article is for information purpose, it may, or may not reflect the current position of the law and is therefore not intended to provide legal advice or guidance on litigation or provide commentary on any pending case or legislation.