Two Nigerian "Yahoo Boys", Onovo Malachy and Festus Ojomola, have been sentenced to 1 year each in two separate cases of online dating fraud. Both their cases were handled and announced by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Yahoo Boys are typically undergraduate Nigerian students who get involved in Internet fraud such as 419 scams, many of them are known to have become rich for doing "yahoo-yahoo" (online scams).
Yahoo Boy defrauded online lover of $140,000
The first case involves Onovo Osita Malachy, who pleaded guilty at the Federal High Court in Benin, Edo State during January 2019 to a charge of obtaining money under false pretenses. Malachy was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.
“That you, Onovo Osita Malachy, on or about 4th day of July 2017 in Benin Edo State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did by means of fraudulent trick to wit: love scam on a dating site obtained the sum of $140,000 only from Helen Wang and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 421 of the Criminal Code Act CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria,2004,” reads Malachy's charge as stated by Justice A. A. Demi-Ajayi.
As part of his charge, Malachy has also had his all his assets seized by the government, these include a building he was still contructing and a 2007 Toyota Camry 2007.
Pretending to be a woman on an online dating platform
Another case involves 20-year old Festus Olaoluwa Ojomola who went by the name "Lizzy Miller" on an Internet dating platform. Ojomola was charged on two counts a day before Valentines Day on 13 February 2019 at the Special Offences Court, Ikeja, Lagos. On both counts, Ojomola was found to have presented himself as "Lizzy Miller" to men on an online dating platform with the aim of eventually defrauding them.
"That you, Festus Olaoluwa Ojomola (a.k.a Lizzy Miller), on or about the 29th June, 2018, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, had in your possession hang-out chats wherein you presented yourself as Lizzy Miller to David Waters, a representation you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 318 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State."
His second charge was similar to the frst, and once confronted after his computer and mobile devices were seized by the EFCC, he admitted to being involved in an online dating dating scam.
"That you, Festus Olaoluwa Ojomola (a.k.a Lizzy Miller), on or about the 29th June, 2018 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, had in your possession hang-out chats, wherein you represented yourself as Lizzy Miller to Joe Badess, a representation you knew to be false and committed an offence contrary to Section 318 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State."
Ojomola pleaded guilty to both charges.
Although many Yahoo Boys continue to be arrested in Nigeria by the EFCC, the culture still persists as some see it as a quicker way of making money in a country plagued by high youth unemployment.
Cover image credit: Internet cafe in Nigeria.