A spiritual dimension to cybercrime in Nigeria: The ‘yahoo plus’ phenomenon

Abstract

Cybercrime in Nigeria is largely perpetrated by young people and students in tertiary institutions, and are socially tagged yahoo yahoo or yahoo boys. Yahoo boys rely on their computer dexterity to victimise unsuspecting persons in cyberspace. A new phenomenon in cybercrime is mixing spiritual elements with internet surfing to boost cybercrime success rates. This paper examines the factors underlying this spiritual dimension (cyber spiritualism) to cybercrime, and discusses some of the strategies employed in perpetuating cyber crime. Using Space Transition Theory of cybercrime, data were generated on yahoo boys and those involved in yahoo plus. The clampdown on Internet fraudsters by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in-group conflict among yahoo boys over social recognition, reduced victimisation and delayed success, and mass media enlightenment were reported factors influencing the fusion of spiritual elements in cyber crime. The methods used include ase or mayehun (incontrovertible order), charmed or magical rings (oruka-ere) and incisions made around the wrist, which are used to surf the net, while ijapa (tortoise) is used to navigate profitable sites. Unsuspecting victims fall under the spell of the ase via phone conversation where spiritual orders are made to the victims without their objecting.

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Correspondence to Oludayo Tade.

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Tade, O. A spiritual dimension to cybercrime in Nigeria: The ‘yahoo plus’ phenomenon. Humaff 23, 689–705 (2013). https://doi.org/10.2478/s13374-013-0158-9

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Key words

  • yahoo plus
  • fraud
  • rituals
  • Nigeria
  • youths
  • EFCC