igeria boasts of Africa’s biggest economy and population, which has fueled the rapid growth and extension of Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT). The Internet has been abused by both good and bad actors, just like any other business. The global economy is losing billions of dollars due to criminals using the internet and computers to perpetrate crimes. The vast majority of Nigerians use the Internet for good, but a few criminals are utilizing the internet for illicit purposes. Known as “Yahoo Boys” in Nigeria,” these are simply cybercriminals who specialise in Internet fraud targeting largely international victims, locals are not spared either as they are known to pounce on unsuspecting victim at the slightest of opportunity they get.
The term “cybercrime” refers to crimes committed in the virtual world of computers and the Internet. Cybercrime is becoming a worldwide phenomenon since our society is moving toward an information society where communication takes place in cyberspace. In our daily lives, society, and economy, cybercrime has the potential to have an enormous impact.
A vast army of online fraudsters dreaming of the dreamlike exploits of the likes of Hushpuppi and a bevy of others is smashing into Nigeria’s Internet, proving terrifyingly true the cliché that the devil makes work for idle hands.
They are ubiquitous these days, and they have a lot of teenagers and young children among their ranks. They are, however, obviously internet aware, eager for success, poverty-stricken, and jobless. They pour into cyberspace, armed with internet-enabled devices, where their victims, who include both locals and foreigners, keep a stream of money coming their way. Their complexity rises with each passing day, with need proving to be the fertile mother of creativity.
They were used to concentrate their efforts on Nigerians with bank accounts. Because their shenanigans were exposed, they were compelled to modernise, and now they target victims all over the world, further tarnishing Nigeria’s already tarnished reputation. To guarantee that this does not spiral out of control, the criminal justice system exists to keep track of crimes and offenders, despite its glaring flaws in Nigeria.
As a result, online fraud thrives. A good number of individuals that participate are youthful, tech-savvy, and in need of quick cash. Many of them are part of a generation of young Nigerians who have experienced some of the country’s worst plundering. As a result, many of them have grown up witnessing and hearing firsthand how large sums of public monies have gone missing in Nigeria’s private wallets. They are aware that there is a ‘road’ to wealth that is uniquely Nigerian.
So they scour cyberspace with their internet-enabled phones and computers, looking for ‘customers.’ The damage has been immeasurable.
The strong hostility at the 2020 SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) protest was further heightened by the fact that young Nigerians saw the Police’s harsh tactics as an endorsement from President Muhammadu Buhari, who had previously labelled Nigerian youngsters as lazy. SARS was shortly deactivated. SARS has yet to be replaced by another similarly monster police force, but Nigeria is already experiencing an increase in cyber fraud.
The options are unlimited when it comes to the internet, which is such a versatile instrument. Nigeria has a variety of regulations in place to combat cybercrime, and the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) is always on the lookout for internet fraudsters. However, it is simple to understand how Nigeria’s regressive laws and even more reactionary law enforcement may be buried in the vastness of the internet.
The fight to rid Nigeria of cybercriminals will take a long time, not only because online fraud is profitable, but also because it plays right into the hands of many young people who have seen their alternatives dwindle as a result of the country’s socioeconomic instability.
In order to address this issue, Nigeria must take a long, hard look in the mirror. Nigeria must address the underlying roots of its socio-economic ills. This self-reflection effort is, obviously, beyond Nigeria’s current generation of leaders. Internet fraud will continue to thrive in Nigeria as long as it continues that way, devouring the hard-earned money of numerous Nigerians and tarnishing the country’s already tarnished reputation.
While cybercrime has a negative impact on the image of a country’s economic climate for small and medium-sized organisations, it also discourages foreign investment in the economy. Cybercrime leads to the loss of financial resources, intellectual property, or personal sensitive information for individuals, and the losses can be severe, typically targeting the elderly and defenceless. Approximately 62,000 persons aged 60 and above in the United States claimed damages totalling $649 million in 2018.
This is solely based on offences that have been reported. According to McAfee, 95 percent of cybercrime goes unreported. The problem of hacking becomes all the more serious as Nigeria moves toward a cashless society. Individuals, corporations, the Nigerian government, and the international community must all work together. Reforms such as raising knowledge of cyber criminals’ tactics, improving personal security, and establishing anti-scam centres, among others, are critical in reducing cybercrime. The Central Bank of Nigeria has created a risk-based cyber security framework and rules for deposit money institutions and payment service providers in an effort to combat cybercrime in Nigeria. This framework outlines proactive methods for safeguarding vital information assets, such as consumer information that is available through the internet.
Nigeria may learn from the various steps that other governments have implemented to tackle cybercrime. The Anti-Scam Centre in Singapore, for example, is an excellent example. The Anti-Scam Centre, which was established by the police in partnership with three major banks, thwarts fraudsters’ operations by preventing money transactions. The Anti-Scam Centre received 1,047 instances in two months, totaling $2.4 million ($1.8 million) in losses for victims. The centre was able to freeze 815 bank accounts and collect 35% of the money stolen, or around S$840,000 ($623,000), which is much higher than the normal recovery percentage for these sorts of frauds. Similarly, Canada maintains an Anti-Fraud Centre, which is the country’s leading organisation for gathering cybercrime data and criminal intelligence.
In cooperation with the Dubai Electronic Security Centre, the National Computer Emergency Response Team, and the Computer Incident Response Centre (located in Luxembourg), the Dubai Financial Services Authority launched a cyber threat intelligence platform. In January of 2020, the platform became operational. The platform is part of an ecosystem that promotes information sharing and provides improved cyber threat intelligence. As a result, all stakeholders from a variety of businesses must engage in a candid discussion about cyber security. This is in an attempt to address the economy’s information imbalance.
Simple security suggestions for individuals include using current and recognised anti-virus software, avoiding pop-ups requesting personal information, using strong passwords, and rejecting emails or calls requesting financial details to assist unlock cards or accounts, among other things. Nigeria is seeing an increase in cybercrime, which is being aided by the country’s current economic situation. The high percentage of unemployment, as well as the desire for fast riches, are two main causes that push people to engage in cybercrime. This menace offers a significant risk, which can only be mitigated by stringent enforcement of cybercrime laws, the creation of profitable economic possibilities, and information exchange, among other things. However, if action is taken, improving knowledge might help decrease cyber dangers in the short, medium and long term.