Cybercrime and Criminality in Nigeria


Crime tries to remain elusive and ever strive to hide in the face of development. Different nations have adopted different strategies to contend with crimes depending on their nature and extent. Certainly, a nation with a high incidence of crime cannot grow or develop. That is so because crime is the direct opposite of development. It leaves negative social and economic consequences. For Nigeria. in the battle against cybercrime, efforts are now being directed at the sources and channels through which cybercrimes are being perpetrated- the most popular one being Internet access points aided by insensitive ISPs. Majority of the cybercrimes perpetrated in Nigeria generally are targeted at individuals and not necessarily computer systems, hence they require less technical expertise on the part of these criminals. The damage done manifests itself in the real world as human weaknesses such as greed and gullibility are generally exploited. The damage dealt is largely psychological and financial. These crimes are similar to theft and the likes that have existed for centuries offline even before the development of high-tech equipment. Through the internet, the same criminal persons with criminal intents have simply been given a tool which increases their potential pool of victims and makes them all the harder to trace and apprehend.

The cybercriminal apart from his own mentality and the strength of motivations needs to see the path of crime ahead of him clear of obstacles. If every single individual were to put up obstacles of their own, no matter how small, the crime path will seem to be far less lucrative in the eyes of even the most desperate criminal. Progress in the fight against Internet Pornography is not really meaningful in Nigeria except in few cyber cafes where content filters are downloaded and installed to filter unwanted internet content.

On the other hand, even in cyber cafes with notices warning against pornographic and spamming activities, bulk tickets are sold, obviously meant for the purpose of sending spam emails and browsing sex sites. Apart from the availability and usage of internet facilities in cyber cafes for pornography and other cyber crimes, the evolution of fixed wireless facilities in the Nigerian landscape has added another dimension to the cybercrime problem. ISP’s are benefiting seriously from the customers who can afford to pay for internet connection via fixed wireless lines can now perpetrate their evil acts within the comfort of their homes.

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The challenge in fighting cyber-crimes today relates to the fact that not only the criminals are benefiting from cybercrime, service providers are equally benefiting. This is simply analogous to the issue of health risks associated with information technology tools. Since manufacturers are benefiting from massive purchases of GSM handsets and iPods, they stifle research that unveils the possible health implications of unguided usage of this equipment. Also, cybercrimes have been in existence for only as long as the cyberspace exists. This explains the unpreparedness of society and the world in general towards combating them. Numerous crimes of this nature are committed daily on the Internet with Nigerians at the forefront of sending fraudulent and bogus financial proposals all over the world. Nigeria has therefore carved a niche for herself as the source of what is now generally referred to as “419” mails named after section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code (cap 777 of 1990) that prohibits advance fee fraud.

LEVELS OF CYBERCRIME VICTIMS

According to Robert (2004), victimology as a very important branch of criminal psychology is an important, if not more, to know whom the criminal is likely to target. Pre-emptive action can only be taken by the law if they know who is likely to commit a crime as well as who is likely to be targeted. All criminals, at least the intelligent ones will only attack those who exhibit certain vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals are careful about the personalities of those they choose to prey on.

Based on this, therefore, four levels of cybercrime victims were identified by Longe and Chimike. They are The Gullible, The Desperados, The Inexperienced and The Unlucky people. Each of them is briefly explained.

The gullible.

There is no doubt that cybercriminals are most fond of people who are easy to deceive. On a more obvious level, phishers are able to fool such people into buying their scams or being drawn into legal traps.

Usually, older people are prone to be scammed as they are more trusting and helpful towards others. On a more dangerous level, however, especially children believe that people they meet on the net are as friendly and worthy of trust as real people are. Almost all victims of cyberstalkers or online paedophiles are prone to trusting people and making friends easily. An even more dangerous aspect of this is propaganda or weapon construction. Gullible teenagers or young adults in countries with unstable political climates can be swayed by such information leading to the heightening of national tension.

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Desperados

Many internet users are desperate for easy ways to make cash. Hence, they easily fall for e-mails that say things like “Get rich fast!” and follow the instructions in the emails which most others are likely to treat as junk. They are almost definitely being led to legal and financial entanglements out of which only the perpetrator will make profits. Also, there are others who are attracted to advertisements related to improving one’s physical image. Ridiculous products such as ‘cheap, effective breast enlargements” etc claim to boost their self-esteem at minimum cost. This explains why there are so many of such emails in circulation these days. These adverts are almost certainly nothing more than means to extract credit card numbers and render the reader bankrupt. Cyberstalker victims are almost always children and especially teenagers who are desperate for friendship. They try very hard, often too hard, to make online friends with whom to boost their ego. The result is that they are much more likely to become prey to those who wish to satisfy their sexual appetites and manipulate their victims to this end.

Inexperienced

There are a lot of people in the world today whose knowledge of the Net is just enough to chat with their friends and maybe get information from here and there. They are totally incapable of protecting their computers from malicious programmes, hackers and maybe even spam. Worse, they may not even be aware of the existence of such crimes, hence become victims in the hands of the professional criminal. They are usually satisfied with their knowledge and see no need to upgrade.

Unlucky people

There are also people who fulfil none of these categories but are just unlucky enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, in cyberspace that is. A full-scale of attack or a self-replicating and highly advanced virus can cause great damage to networks or PCs and the individual may not in anyway be blamed. An element of surprise does exist in cyberspace. But it certainly does help to be prepared.

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References

  • Adewumi. S.E (2008). Safe Nigeria: An agenda for reducing internet scam experiences.
  • Ajayi, V (2009). Cybercrime in Nigeria: A sociological Analysis.
  • Awe J (2008). Fighting cybercrime. Paper presented on Information Technology Intelligence.
  • Casey, E (2004). Digital Evidence and computer crime. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Press Council of Europe Convention on cybercrirne. 2001
  • Karofi, U.A and Mwanza, J. (2006). Globalization and crime. Bangladesh e-Journal of sociology.
  • Longe, O.B and Chierneke, S.C (2006). Cybercrime and criminality in Nigeria-What roles are Internet Access Points Playing? European Journal Of Social Sciences Volume 6. No 4.
  • Michael Hughes. et al (2002).Sociology: the Core. McGraw-Hill publisher.
  • Obono, M (2008). Youth Against Cybercrime and Fraud in Nigeria. A Paper presentation at Cleen Foundation’s Youth against crime quarterly interactive forum in Bola Ige Millennium Secondary School Ajegunle. Lagos State.
  • Olowu, D (2009). Cybercrime and the Boundaries of Domestic Legal Responses. Case for Inclusionary Framework for Africa. South Africa, JILT.
  • Ribadu, N (2007). Cybercrime and Commercial Fraud: A Nigerian Perspective. A paper presentation at a congress to celebrate the fortieth annual session of UNCITRAL, Vienna.

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