Yahoo Boy is the Nigerian terminology for people who commit internet Fraud of any kind, Sakawa Boy is the Ghanaian terminology for people who commit internet Fraud of any kind. These boys use different techniques to acquire these funds online but any illegal action through which you acquire financial gain online is classified as Yahoo or 419 in Nigeria and Sakawa in Ghana.
Before I start, I will like to make a very sharp distinction between the ritualists who use human parts or human beings for money rituals and your standard internet fraud criminal, there is a BIG difference. I feel the need to talk about the difference because even people from all over West Africa where it seems to have some popularity amongst the impoverished youths, are confused as to the difference.
In Ghana the act of acquiring money through magical means is called Sikaduro or Sika-aduro, this is a term in Twi; the most spoken language apart from English in the capital Accra, of Ghana. Sikaduro is the combination of two Twi words “Sika” meaning money and “Aduro” meaning Medicine. In this part of Africa, every charm, spell or enchantment that is made by witch doctors, African voodoo priest or shamans have the same term “medicine” in every West African language, so instead of “magic”, we use the word “medicine” in almost every West African language.
So Sika-aduro/sikaduro simple means Money Medicine.
In Nigeria, ritual killers are simply referred to as the “Yahoo Plus” group, or simply ritualist. As I explained before, the Yahoo Boys refers to the internet fraudster, while when “Plus” is added to the “Yahoo” this simply means a criminal who gains money through supernatural means human sacrifice aka “YAHOO PLUS”, this “YAHOO PLUS” term has nothing in common with the Yahoo boys, even though many who are ritualists, kidnappers or even common armed robbers will often pose as Yahoo Boys, as Internet fraud generally have a lesser criminal connotation for many West Africans.
This article has nothing to do with the ritualists engaged in human sacrifices, I am only referring to the internet fraudsters, who hack “foreign” credit cards, engaged in dating scams or any online scams of any kind.
The unemployment rate in West Africa is tremendous, we have so few employed, the few most of whom are from the privileged homes with money or the connections. Just How many West Africans get jobs based on their academic credentials?
Most West Africans today are laborers and artisans, regardless of how much money or years have been wasted in the West African academic system, this is why someone will spend 5 to 5 years studying engineering only for them to graduate and have to work as a taxi driver while the government offer building contracts to foreign contractors and engineers.
Many youths end up frustrated and tired of struggling, eventually they get introduced to internet crime and over night, they can feed themselves, their families and have a middle class lifestyle, something that would have been otherwise IMPOSSIBLE for them. Note that some people even leave school to join internet crime, their logic is “Why waste years of my life only to graduate with a worthless degree, while I can make something of myself now” And many of these boys succeed in making a lot of money with their criminality.
The point I am trying to make is that our boys who are engaged in this crime are in it because there are no other choices, our politicians are people who still legally rendering generations useless but we clap for them daily, these boys are only exploiting an avenue that seems to work, what happens when this avenue is blocked without the government creating an alternative source of income for this multitude of persons?
Here in West Africa, we have a holier than thou attitude when it comes to topics of this manner but we quickly forget that the developments in many parts of Nigeria and Ghana can be directly tied to the online crime.
In West Africa once upon a time before, there was the super rich and the poor and the rich usually consisted on government/bank/health care workers and this was a rigid part of the population unwilling to invest or take risks as the Yahoo/Sakawa boys would do, now due to this online crime market, we have an emerging middle class as many of these boys make money from the online scams and turn the money towards a multitude of investments, which provide jobs and income for themselves and family, any West African who denies this is a liar.
The point of me writing this article is not to endorse crime but to open the government eyes to treating these boys as citizens and assets to their nations.
The West are able to take something from the stories of a serial killer and convert it to a profiling system that is helping them fight all crimes more effectively, If they can do it, why not we? The Italian Mafia built New York if we can stare our broken youth to the right direction and we the right way, they will do greatest things.
We hold ourselves back with hypocritical malarkey and that holier than thou character that only shows our incompetence.
HOW CAN INTERNET CRIMINALITY BE REDUCED?
Many of these boys or men appear to be rude and disorderly because there is nothing else to which they can model themselves after, the society didn’t create for them opportunities, they finally made it and even at that the same society now castigates them for taking what in many cases is the only option.
Governments of West Africa, instead of seeing no potential in these boys and casting them aside only to be used as objects for extortion by our corrupt police, court systems and bankers. I feel they should be provided with investment opportunities, where they can safely invest what they have gathered, there are an overwhelming amount of Yahoo/Sakawa boys with a lot of money being wasted, if we can provide for them the opportunities and technical know how in investing money, most of them will rather use what they have to gain honestly.
This will increase employment and also increase the amount of Yahoo/Sakawa boys whose aim is now to get money and invest properly instead of looking for money so they can party or take drugs just for that to finish so they can enter the crime again to get more.
I feel if the government can offer safe investment options and an outreach program to rehabilitate these boys, they will not just be online scamming, their will be a lot of boys who will now be only focused on raising capital so they can invest and focus on just the investment. There are many stories out there of the yahoo/sakawa boys who totally changed their lives, most of them can do it to but it will take the same society that failed them to reach out to them and show them something better through love.
I feel the overwhelming amount of them in drugs is as a result of youth with money and no aim or ambition, so naturally, whatever makes the passing of time more enjoyable will be what consumes their money i.e drugs, drink, gambling and sex.
We live in a society that does not think about the children or the future, so I will be the first to speak up, Do you know what will happen if internet fraud is suddenly halted today without alternative income provision for the now jobless? Those same boys will naturally join violent and local crimes which will become a thorn on the sides of all of us. We must be smart as people, these boys are living a fast life where they can afford their rents and food without having to deal with the failure of the government, if we took this option from all of them today and not even consider an alternative income for them, I believe that West Africa, Ghana and Nigeria in particular will suddenly turn into a horrible mess as more horrific crimes will be the order of the day.
While Ghana Bureau for National Investigation and Nigeria Economic and Financial Crimes commission are fighting this, I feel they should consider the future, these boys can be used to fight the crime as well as create opportunities for other.
Europe, US and Asia will always use whatever brain power their people come up with for their own betterment, let us see how we can use these yahoo/sakawa issue to better Africa and not just destroy them as though we are brainless.
China has a lot of forgery experts, the Chinese government did not arrest them and throw them into jail or send them to other countries to serve time, the Chinese government saw the potential and invested in them now China is mass production capital of the world.
Americans and Europeans have stolen and defrauded Africans and Africa for centuries, those who did this stealing were welcomed home as heroes and till this day are treated as such.
We can profit from our own set of stubborn youths and dark creativity, instead of destruction I argue that these boys be educated on investment options/provided investment options, I also argue that they be rehabilitated instead of imprisoned, I also state again that the IT industry in both Ghana and Nigeria may have millions of things to learn from these boys, I argue that they be integrated into the system so they can have an alternative.
What I have said will bring the best out of them rather than just destroy them and wast their wealth, sending them to prison too stops nothing because they only set up shop once they are out.
Africa be wise.