The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said that the activities of the Internet fraudsters known as Yahoo Boys are denting Nigeria’s image locally and internationally.
The anticrime agency said this, just as it announced the arrest of Joseph Oyediran, the most wanted Internet fraudster on the list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
No fewer than 77 Nigerians were indicted by the FBI for Internet fraud, a product of two years of joint operation with the EFCC designed to contain cybercrime, which also involved Canada, Malaysia and Indonesia.
This is coming as the commission arrested 20 Yahoo Boys in Owerri, Imo State barely six days after apprehending the same number of suspects in the state.
The EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, also raised the alarm on the negative impact of cybercrime on the nation’s image, saying cybercrime deserved national attention.
Addressing newsmen in Ilorin, Magu, who was represented by the Zonal Head of the EFCC in Ilorin, Isyaku Sharu, said the arrest of Joseph Oyediran, one of the internet fraudsters most wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was part of an international crackdown on a syndicate of cyber criminals.
At a briefing to give an update on the EFCC/FBI collaboration in the fight against cybercrime, he stated that “three weeks ago, the US authority had written to us for assistance in tracking and possible arrest and prosecution of two most wanted FBI suspects in Nigeria.
“Investigation conducted by the EFCC revealed that Joseph had benefited about N60 million from the loot via Western Union transfers.”
EFCC expressed the resolve to ensure that the anti-graft agency effectively coordinated the Nigerian end of the investigation with the FBI and other partners in international law enforcement agencies involved in the worldwide crackdown down on internet fraud.
He further noted that within seven months of its operations in Ilorin, the EFCC had ramped up efforts to rid the country of cybercrime resulting in the arrest of more than 50 persons involved in internet fraud.
“We have also secured the conviction of 25 of them, recovered exotic cars from them which were proceeds of their illegal activities,” he said, adding that money recovered from them running into millions of Naira were forfeited to the federal government.
He also revealed that some property linked to some of the cybercrime suspects, were traced to choice areas in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State. “They include supermarket plaza, and so on, and the conservative value of the property cannot be less than N800 million to N1 billion,” he said.
Sharu said that the nation depended on the vibrancy of the economy, which is a common denominator binding Nigeria together and business worldwide are being conducted online.
“There is the need for Nigerians to come together with the aim of combating the scourge of Internet fraud and cybercrime in order to make the cyber space well-fortified, so that foreign investors can invest to further boost our economy,” he said.
In another development, the anti-graft agency arrested 20 internet fraudsters around the Aladinma Extension area of Owerri, Imo State capital when the commission operatives reportedly stormed the place while the suspected fraudsters were asleep and successfully arrested 20 of them.
“Every email sent from Nigeria is being screened before delivery, we are being denied visas to other countries,” he lamented.