Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Social Organization of Internet Fraud among University Undergraduates in Nigeria

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Social Organization of Internet Fraud among University Undergraduates in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Like any other criminal act, Internet fraud, especially those involving youths in Nigeria, has grown in leaps and bounds, winning more souls from partner agencies, who now contribute to the successful execution of Internet fraud. Many undergraduates in Nigerian universities have embraced Internet fraud as a way of life. Many of them have become rich while some others have been caught by the law. In April 2012, Olasaidi Dare, an undergraduate of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment over an attempt to obtain money under false pretences in a cyber café3. On June 5, 2012, a Federal High Court in Kaduna State,4 Nigeria sentenced a 25- year old, Imonina Kingsley, of the University of Ilorin, Nigeria to twenty years' imprisonment for defrauding an Australian of one thousand dollars ($1,000) when he fraudulently presented himself as a gay from Republic of Benin. He was charged for impersonation, possession of fraudulent documents and attempt to obtain money by false pretences contrary to Section 8(a) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 2012).

These cases attest to the pervasive nature of Internet fraud sub-culture gaining grounds in Nigerian ivory towers. Internet fraud has permeated the Nigerian society with youths leading the squad. According to the Chairman of Nigeria' Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, more than 288 persons have been convicted over various Internet crimes, while 234 are still being prosecuted in courts across the country (EFCC, 2012). Evidently, Internet frauds among educated youths enjoy better planning, execution and organisation. High level of internet impersonality allows for its deployment for whichever purpose by its users. According to Ige (2008), the Internet remains a mechanism for dissemination of information, collaboration and interaction among individuals and computers without regard for geographical location. Computer technology has ushered remarkable developments in human history but its subversive utilization has raised many questions. As observed by Adeniran (2008), information communication technology has altered African cultures, patterns of socialization, and social institutions, particularly with regard to telecommunication and the Internet.

In Nigeria, youths, especially undergraduates and the unemployed have embraced the ICT inventions, such that the Internet medium now takes larger part of their days when compared to their other daily activities. The varieties of application offered by the Net, such as, electronic mailing, 'chat' systems and Internet messaging (IM), often serve as veritable grounds for carrying out nefarious 'webonomics' and other fraudulent activities by the youths (Adeniran, 2008). This has significantly given birth to the emergence of 'yahoo-boys' sub-culture among Nigerian youths, particularly in urban centres. The focus of this research is to investigate the perception of yahoo-boys about their activities; understand the informal network sustaining Internet fraud; and determine how it is organized into different areas of specialization among students in tertiary institutions. The informal network has become important for planning, implementing and executing organized criminal acts in Nigeria.

Fraud is not a new phenomenon because it has always been around since human history. Its definition and outcomes on victims have not changed. With the use of the Internet for commercial purposes, the method of perpetration of fraudulent activities has evolved to include online capabilities (Lee, 2003). In other words, the Internet has opened up a door for the development of a new criminal sector of fraud. The scary aspect of this type of new fraud is that perpetrators can now use the anonymous advantage of the Internet to cause harm (PBI Media, 2003). Since the Internet works on real time, a prospective victim can be harmed much more easily and quickly. …

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