Though greed and hungry for love give many Nigerians away to cybercriminals, internet scammers are known here in Nigeria as yahoo-yahoo boys, the criminals also have their antics with which they catch their victims. Temitope Hammed, the elder sister to 20-year old Misturat Titilope Hammed, one of the four girls killed by a vehicle in Abeokuta, has laid the blame on Yahoo boys.
Last Friday, a report had it that the girls who are students of Government Technical College were crushed to death by a Toyota Avensis car after it lost control and somersaulted due to a tyre burst. The accident was confirmed by Mr Babatunde Akinbiyi, the Spokesperson, Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE) in Ogun State.
Experts say while the scam storylines vary in detail, they all usually tend to follow the same trajectory: the victim is identified; a close relationship is rapidly established online; a small amount of money is asked for to test the victim’s readiness; a crisis occurs and a larger amount of money is sought with the promise of it being returned quickly; a series of additional “bleeds” occur until the scammer is exposed or the victim can’t get any more money.
Scammers often work in teams of five or six, with each member playing a specific role, according to experts who study and prosecute online fraud.
‘’One person opens communication as the faux lover. Teammates sometimes impersonate a doctor or a nurse demanding to be paid after a medical emergency. Or they pose as work associates or friends of the paramour, to whom the victim can send the money. Young women pretend to be teenage daughters, eager to call the victim “Mom.” If the victim gets suspicious, an accomplice may reach out pretending to be a private investigator offering to track down the scammer for a fee.
‘’It is all scripted: the words the faux lover uses, the love poetry he plagiarizes, the events that unfold in the “relationship. ‘’One scammer managed a workload of 25 cases at once, impersonating both men and women’’, according to AARP’s Shadel.
But even with a script, there can be warning signs for the victims. Sometimes, the scammer may “forget” what was discussed previously or call the victim by a different name. Most scammers go with the generic “honey” or “babe” to avoid the latter mistake, according to the cybersecurity experts.
When the victim seeks a face-to-face meeting, the script offers creative ways for scammers to say no or to cancel later. Some claim they’re working overseas or on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, where internet and cell phone service is spotty so they can’t stay in contact as frequently as they would like.
To build their false identities, scammers steal a real person’s photos from dating sites, Facebook or even old MySpace accounts. Sometimes thousands of phony online identities are created from one set of stolen photos. The person whose pictures are taken has no idea anything is amiss until victims start to contact them hoping to get their money back or continue the “romance.”
Member of the military are big targets because women gravitate to photos of strong men willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Soldiers represent protection, another appealing trait. Plus, being “deployed overseas” provides scammers with a great cover for erratic communications and no face-to-face meetings.