ON May 22, 2019, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arrested a young proprietor of an alleged internet fraud training school located at 14, Animashaun Street, Progressive Estate, Ojodu Berger, Lagos alongside eight students, while receiving “lectures”.
Again, in June, 2020, the media reported the arrest by Interpol and FBI of a Nigerian Dubai-based fraudster, Raymond Igbalode, popularly known as Hushpuppi, and his colleague, Mr. Woodbery, for alleged involvement in internet fraud and money laundering of over $100 million meant for native Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, on February 18, 2021, Vanguard reported that operatives of the Abuja Zonal Office of the EFCC uncovered an underworld ‘academy’ located in Arab Contractors Area of Mpape Hills, Abuja, for the grooming of internet fraudsters.
According to EFCC, the 30-year-old coordinator of the internet fraud academy and his 27 ‘students’, mostly young school leavers between ages 18 and 25, were arrested.
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These are the army of hackers who silently prowl the cyberspace, seeking to steal the usernames and passwords we use to digitally deposit and withdraw money from our bank accounts.
Hackers appear to have become predators in cyberspace as we humans have increasingly settled down to a life of digital transactions of our businesses.
This ugly situation calls for stronger and concerted efforts to universally evolve foolproof means of warehousing personal or collective wealth to keep online commerce and payment solutions going with minimum risk of losing it to hackers and fraudsters.
Allowing these fraud schools to exist will enable them to proliferate, as fraud “students” of today will turn into teachers of tomorrow. It is akin to allowing schools that teach armed robbery and kidnapping to exist.
The banks and internet payment service providers must also be made to take more responsibility and liability for allowing their systems to be infiltrated. Consumers of these services should be constantly kept abreast of developments in cybercrime in order for them to play their roles in protecting their finances.
However, we strongly believe that law enforcement alone will not solve cybercrime issues. More efforts must be made to give our school leavers opportunities to earn honest living through gainful employment. Nigeria is an infinitely blessed country in terms of human and natural resources.
The economy must be developed to give jobs to our people. This will vastly reduce the army of the unemployed and the temptation to embrace crime as a whole.
Many of these young people would ordinarily want to live honest, dignified lives, but due to unemployment which itself is a fallout of bad leadership and public treasury looting, they are forced to channel their energies and genius into the wrong direction.
Cybercrime must be comprehensively tackled to keep our personal and collective wealth safe.