Youth Participation In Social Media Fraud; Problems, Effect And Solution

Project and Seminar Material for Criminology And Security Studies

Youth Participation In Social Media Fraud; Problems, Effect And Solution


This research work was conceived to find out the pattern of social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria, identify the types of social media fraud common in the study area, explore the social attributes of those involved in social media fraud in the study area, identify the motivating factor and causes of social media fraud, find out the consequences of the emerging trends and finally suggest solutions to mitigate against the menace. The study adopted the differential association theory which was developed by Edwin Sutherland to explain the reason for individual’s involvement in social media fraud and how they learnt the techniques to perpetrate the act through interaction with others. The study was conducted in three selected tertiary institutions in Zaria namely; Ahmadu Bello University, Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic and Federal College of Education. Data was obtained through quantitative method (questionnaires) and qualitative method (In-depth interview). The research also used both probability and non probability sampling method in the selection of respondents. Four hundred questionnaires were administered to students of the three selected tertiary institutions using the simple random sampling method.Data collected through quantitative instrument was subjected to simple statistical analysis and interpretation and analyzed with the aid of a computer using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 17.0).Despite the negative consequences of social media fraud on the study area, it was discovered that it had positive effect for the perpetrators as they were able to use the money realized to solve their need. On the basis of these findings, it was recommended that the Federal Government should empower the youths in terms of job creation and regularly engage the IT industries to develop strategies to curtail social media fraud. The study also recommends that everybody should report to law enforcement agencies any one suspected to be involved in social media fraud.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The invention of electronic devices such as modern communication hard-wares, internet service and computer systems has been a major landmark in human history. Ayantokun (2006), defined computer as a machine that performs tasks, such as calculation or electronic communication, under the control of a set of instructions called a program. Programs usually reside within the computer and are retrieved and processed by the computer’s electronics. The program results are stored or routed to output devices, such as video display monitors or printers. Oyewole and Obeta (2002), define a computer as an electronic device that accepts, processes, stores and outputs data at high speed according to programmed instructions. Computers perform a wide variety of activities reliably, accurately and quickly depending on the purpose it was designed for. Computer can be used in areas of education, medicine, engineering design, scientific research, office automation, personal administration etc (Morley and Parker, 2007).

According to Rogers (1995), the rapid evolution of the computer brought the internet. The internet services have reduced the world into a global village which makes it look as if everybody is in the same place at a particular point in time. Aside the fact that the internet has made communication to be easier and faster, a lot of other transactions are consummated at the speed of lightening. Oyewole and Obeta (2002), state that the internet is the inter connection of computer across the world thereby creating unlimited opportunities for mankind. Ehimen and Bola (2009), state that cyberspace has provided a save haven for internet platform, which has created geometric growth and accelerated windows of opportunities for businesses and the removal of economic barriers hitherto faced by nations of the world. People from diverse areas of human endeavor can now freely access and utilize the advantages offered by internet platform. In addition, Young Media Association (2007), listed the following as the positive gain the internet has brought to the world:

  • Facilitation of job search and employment.
  • Accessibility to research information for education and businesses.
  • Rural integration.
  • Enhancement of trade and commerce.
  • Sharing of resources and ideas.
  • Enhance communication.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The contribution of internet to the development of the nation has been marred by the evolution of a new wave of crime. The internet has also become an environment where the most lucrative and safest crimes thrive. There are indications that social media fraud is rising. For example, a 2005 YouGov poll of UK Internet users found that 1 in 20 had lost money in online scams. Also a 2001 survey revealed that 52 per cent of companies interviewed said internet fraud posed real problems for them (Wall, 2007). These are clear indications that social media fraud is on the increase and as such, it is beginning to gain recognition at the global level and there is dearth of study in the area of this burgeoning criminal act in Nigeria.

Technology has integrated nations and the world has become a global village. The economy of most nations in the world is accessible through the aid of electronic via the internet. Since the electronic market is opened to everybody (which includes eavesdroppers and criminals), false pretence find a fertile ground in this situation. Vladimir (2005), said the internet is a global network which unites millions of computer located in different countries and open broad opportunities to obtain and exchange information but it is now being used for criminal purposes due to economic factors. Nigeria, a third world country is faced with so many economic challenges such as unemployment amongst others, which are capable of making this crime thrive. Apart from the economy factor been a possible cause of social media fraud in Nigeria, there might be other causes for the continued rise in social media fraud activity.

In Nigeria, perpetrators of this crime who are commonly referred to as “yahoo yahoo boys” take advantage of e-commerce system available on the internet to defraud victims who are mostly foreigners thousands and sometimes millions of dollars. They fraudulently represent themselves as having particular goods to sell or that they are involved in a loan scheme project. They may even pose to have financial institution where money can be loaned out to prospective investors. In this regard, persons and organization are duped or have fallen victims. However, these are not the only techniques used by these social media fraudsters, there could be others which the research intends to unravel.

Attempt to address social media fraud by various governments and international organizations have not been successful owing to the fact that the identities of the perpetrators of social media fraud remain ambiguous and inadequate. A study by Zero Tolerance (2006), indicates that social media fraudsters are usually within the age bracket of 18 to 30 years and they indulge in the crime in order to survive and have a taste of good life. Noting these observations, there is need to identify more attributes/characteristics these social media fraudsters possess and what are other causes since it have been acknowledged that a good taste of life is a major factor.

Consequently, many countries have intensified efforts in curbing the excesses of social media fraudsters. Nevertheless, efforts have been made by the Federal Government of Nigeria to curb the menace of the crime too. For instance, according to Awe (2009), the government of President Olusegun Obansanjo in 2003 set up a working group known as the Nigeria Cyber Crime Working Group (NCWG) to address this phenomenon since the loss suffered by both consumers and investors creates serious credibility and image problem to the country. Similarly, according to Abdulhamidet al, (2011), in Nigeria, a bill title “Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure bill” is presently been prepared to deal specifically with the menace of social media fraud. The Economic and Other Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) have also played vital roles in curbing this menace. To support their efforts, Microsoft and other internet related organizations like PARADIGM Initiative Nigeria, Background Check International (BCI) and the Internet safety,

Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (ISSPIN) have also assisted to curb the maladies (Awe, 2009). In spite of all these efforts, social media fraud in Nigeria is still on the increase. The situation raises a question on the type of social media fraud that is on the increase and remedy to solve the menace. Consequently, base on the above statements the research work was designed to provide answers to the research questions raised and also to suggest solutions to the problem.

1.3 Research Questions

  1. What is the pattern of social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria?
  2. What are the social attributes of those involved in social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria?
  3. What are the factors responsible for social media fraud in the study area?
  4. What are the types of social media fraud common among social media fraudsters in tertiary institutions in Zaria?
  5. What are the consequences of social media fraud in the study area?
  6. How can social media fraud be curtailed?

1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are as follows:

  1. To find out the pattern of social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria.
  2. To explore the social attributes of those involved in social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria.
  3. To identify the causes of social media fraud in the study area.
  4. To identify the types of social media fraud that is common in the study area.
  5. To examine the consequences of social media fraud in the study area.
  6. To suggest appropriate solutions to the problem.

1.5 Significance of the Study

With the ever increasing pace of development, social media fraud has become an inevitable and a more specialized area of crime which threatens the economy and even the peace and security of the nation. The publicity surrounding Nigeria social media fraud is raising fears that the country may face a slowdown in international investment in telecommunication as well as the financial sectors (Thomas, 2011). As more Nigerians use the internet for their banking needs, the number of fraudsters eyeing people’s bank accounts and online financial transactions has also multiplied. Hence, this study has provided useful information on the factors responsible for the increase rate of social media fraud in the society.

Unlike the advance societies, developing societies have almost little or no modalities put in place to curb the excesses of social media fraudsters. In order to out smart the social media fraud fighting agencies, these social media fraudsters have connections with one another thereby learning more sophisticated methods/skills day in day out to commit this havoc. As such, the exposure of the techniques been used by these social media fraudsters will contribute positively to the efforts being made by these agencies.

Moreover, since youths within the age bracket of 18-30 years (Zero Tolerance, 2006), have been identified to be most vulnerable to this crime and have also been identified to be either in tertiary institutions or about to be admitted into one or graduates. The research work was able to identify other attributes/characteristics of social media fraudsters. In addition, since social media fraud is denting the country image among the committee of nations and the present administration has vowed to place Nigeria among the top twenty largest economies in the world by 2020. This research will contribute positively to the efforts being made by concerned government and private agencies to develop strategies to combat the menace.

Above all, taking into account that social media fraud and the underlying criminology behind cyber criminals are very new and there is a relative shortage of available research and literature on the subject. This therefore, makes this study very important because the study has added to the existing literature by revealing a number of different bases on what typically makes and motivates social media frauds and also identify the consequences it has in the society.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study revolves around issues on the pattern and consequences of social media fraud. It was conducted in Zaria, Kaduna State and limited to students of 3 selected tertiary institutions namely; Ahmadu Bello University, Federal College of Education and Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic. In addition, other respondents that participated in the study were operators of cyber café, lecturers from Computer Science Department of the selected tertiary institution and individuals who indulge in social media fraud. The study was conducted from August 2011 to May 2013.

1.7 Definition of Key Terms


Computer is described as an electronic machine that works under the control of store information (programs). It accept data (input), store data in the memory and process the data to produce the required result in a specified format as information (output).


Internet means international communication network. It is a communication network among computers. It is an interconnection of computers across globe.

Chapter Five

Summary, Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the summary, discussion, conclusion and recommendations based on the findings in the study. The research was set out to study the pattern and consequences of cybercrime in tertiary institutions in Zaria. In order to achieve this, the study was guided by the following objectives; to find out the pattern of social media fraud, explore the social-attributes of individuals involved in social media fraud, identify the causes, identify the types of social media fraud common in Zaria, document the consequences and finally, suggest solution to mitigate against the menace.

5.2 Summary of Major Findings

The findings from the study showed that a significant number of males who are mostly youths between the ages of 18-30years participated in the research. The study also reveals that majority of the respondents are single. The study also discovered that most of the respondents use the internet and the site assessed by most of the respondents are Google search, social media, academic research, emails, entertainment and news. The study further revealed that social media fraud is frequent in tertiary institutions in Zaria and mostly perpetrated by youths. It was discovered too that social media fraud can be committed at anytime of the day but cyber-criminals who are involved in piracy will prefer to commit the act at night because the network will be faster. It was revealed that cyber-café and the home are the major points perpetrating of social media fraud. In addition, the study shows that cyber-criminals are nicknamed “yahoo yahoo boys” and “yahoo millionaire” who use the following techniques; password cracker, network sniffers, key loggers, honey pot, man in the middle, mathematical model, number extractors, social network, duplication of website, key recorder, password reviler, SQL injection and phone techniques to commit their illegal act. Similarly, cyber-criminals get their proceeds from domiciliary account, money gram and western union.
Findings from the study indicated that hacking, credit card fraud, software piracy, phishing, social network, pin fraud, theft of identity, trafficking of password and credit card number and stealing of direct TV signal are the most common types of social media fraud that are been perpetrated in Zaria.

As to the socio-demographic attributes of cyber-criminals, the study showed that most cybercriminals are between the ages of 18-30yrs, who are mostly male and highly knowledgeable in computer. Similarly, it was discovered that those who indulged in social media fraud could be from any religion and in addition, it was observed that youths from any tertiary institutions in Nigeria and graduates are mostly the perpetrators of this criminal activity. This implies that most of these cyber criminals are educated. From the study, the life styles of cyber-criminals were also identified and it was revealed that cyber-criminals are always on the internet, ride the best automobiles, clubbers and spend money lavishly. Similarly, some of these cyber-criminals indulge the assistance of herbalist/spiritualist to charm their victim.

From the study, it was discovered too that cyber-criminals are motivated by the following factors: excitement to succeed, intellectual pursuit, financial gain, recognition, low rate of conviction, frustration, revenge, display of wealth by corrupt politicians and sabotage. Furthermore, the study found that unemployment, corruption, poverty, peer group influence, easy accessibility to the internet, weak laws and defective socialization are the causes of social media fraud in the study area.

Results from the study showed that social media fraud has negative consequences on the society which range from tarnishing the country’s reputation internationally to lack of trust and confidence, denial of innocent Nigerians certain opportunity abroad, loss of employment, loss of life and finally, it drives away investors. However, it was further revealed that despite the negative consequences of social media fraud, it provides a means of survival for cyber-criminals through the sales of pirated software and proceeds they get from other types of social media fraud.
On the solution to social media fraud, it was discovered that the crime cannot be totally eradicated but it is possible to check if the following solutions can be followed; youth are empowered by creating jobs; enlighten young ones about the consequences of such act under the law; government regular engagement with IT industries to develop strategies to curtail social media fraud; zero tolerance to corruption, arrest and immediate prosecution; everybody in the society should be able to report to the law enforcement agencies anyone suspected to be cyber-criminal; our ethical standards are redefined from wealth at all cost to other cherished values; and finally, introducing the topic in the curriculum of secondary school students.

5.3 Discussion of Key Findings

This section discusses the key findings from the objectives of the study in relation to other scholar’s findings. As to the pattern and consequences of social media fraud in tertiary institution in Zaria, the study revealed that youths in tertiary institutions and graduates seeking for employment are mostly the perpetrators of this criminal activity. This result is found to have similarity with past studies. For instance, the report of EFCC (2012), on cyber-criminals caught and penalized shows a large number of the involvement of students and graduates as the main perpetrator of the crime. For example, a 25-year-old student of the University of Ilorin, Imonina Kingsley, was sentenced on four-count of impersonation, possession of fraudulent documents and attempt to obtain money by false pretences and was sentenced 20 years jail term. He was said to have used the false identity of one Mr. Thomas Duke, with the email address given as to send fraudulent mails with intent to defraud unsuspecting victim. Also, Abayomi Lawal Adekunle Nurudeen, a final-year student of Survey and GeoInformatics Engineering at the University of Lagos, sentenced to 19 years jail term for obtaining $47,900 from Pee Loo Rosalind Summer, an Australian lady. Similarly, Ferdinand Iheasirim, a 1993 graduate of Accountancy of Abia State University had claimed to Rev Robert McArdle, an Australian and that he was Ben Agwu, a security adviser to Nigeria’s president. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. All this are report of EFCC (2012).

The research has shown that hacking, software piracy, credit card fraud, phishing, pin fraud and the use of social network are the commonest types of social media fraud being perpetrated in tertiary institutions in Zaria. This statement corroborate with past studies on the types of social media fraud common in Nigeria. For instance, Olugbodi (2010), states that the most prevalent forms of cybercrime in Nigeria are Website Cloning (phishing), Financial Fraud, Identity Theft, Credit Card fraud, Cyber-theft, Cyber-harassment, Fraudulent Electronic Mails, software piracy and Virus / Worms / Trojans. In addition, Ribadu (2007), stated that the prominent forms of social media fraud in Nigeria are cloning of websites, falser representations, internet purchase and other e-commerce kinds of fraud.

Findings from the study showed that youths who are involved in social media fraud are within the ages of 18-30years who are motivated by the quest for quick luxurious comfort, greed, reputation, vengeance and low chances of being caught. The result of the finding agrees with past studies on the ages of cyber-criminals and motivating factor. For instance, a study by Zero Tolerance (2006), indicates that cyber-criminals are usually within the age category of 18 and 30 years and they indulge in the crime in order to survive and have a taste of good life.
The study further identified the sexes that are involved in social media fraud. The study showed that males are mostly involved in social media fraud. This finding can be corroborated with that of Olaide and Adewole (2004) which states that social media frauds are male dominated, however, and that female are tender-hearted, feared being caught in evil act, humble, submissive, gentle, emotional and quiet while men are strong and daring.
As to the causes of social media fraud in Zaria, the findings showed that unemployment, corruption, poverty, peer group influence, easy accessibility to the internet and weak laws are the causes of social media fraud in the study area. Other studies also agreed with the findings, For instance Okoro (2010), identified the following as the causes of social media fraud in Nigeria; unemployment, negative role models, lack of adequate policing facilities and knowledge of cyber crime and social gratification. Similarly, Awe (2009), stated that widespread of corruption, harsh economic climate, high unemployment, disregard for the rule of law and lack of transparency and accountability in governance are the main causes of social media fraud in Nigeria.

Regarding the negative consequences social media fraud has on the society, it was discovered that such include loss of life, tarnishing the country’s reputation internationally, loss of revenue and employment, denial of innocent Nigerians certain opportunity abroad. Similarly, past studies also agreed with this findings for example, Ringwelski (2008), listed the consequences social media fraud has on the economy to include loss of revenue, wasted time, damaged reputation and reduce productivity.

The study adopted differential association theory which provided the relevant perspective in the study through its nine assumptions. It helped to explain why an individual becomes a cybercriminal. The theoretical deduction showed that an individual becomes a cyber-criminal if the following three conditions are met: if the individual had learned the requisite skills and techniques for committing the crime, if the individual had learned excess of definitions favourable to crime over definition unfavourable to crime and finally, if the individual had the objective opportunity to carry out the crime. In addition to the theory used, other push factors such as economic, sociopolitical and cognitive factors were identified which could lead an individual to be involved in social media fraud.

Findings from the studies had shown that those individuals involved in social media fraud associate with other cyber-criminals either through chat channels (communication) or physically (interaction) in order to perfect their skills and to keep abreast of new techniques and potential targets. The study also revealed, that through these means, the individual develop a rationalization for social media fraud. This fact tallies with assumption 1 – 4 of differential association theory. That state; Criminal behavior is learned, Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication, The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups, and When criminal behavior is learned. In addition, cyber-criminals have come to realized that corruption thrives in the society and it is uncheck by law enforcement agencies and the law enforcement agencies have not also done much to arrest and prosecute these cybercriminal due to lack of legislature on social media fraud, this gives them the opportunity to operate freely without fear of being arrested.

This fact also tallies with fifth and sixth assumption of differential association theory, States that an individual will be pushed into deviant behavior depending on their view of the legal code as being favorable or unfavorable. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law. According to the seventh factor of Differential Association, the finding revealed that the more time an individual spend with cyber-criminals, the more the increase in the frequency that they engage in deviant behavior.

5.4 Conclusion

The remarkable development in human history through computer technology has no doubt brought about transformation in all aspects of life, especially in communication and information technology. Nevertheless, the embracement of the internet has come with a lot of mixed feelings despite its numerous advantages to the people. Social media fraud is the use of computer/internet as an instrument to further illegal ends such as committing hacking, credit card fraud, phishing, pornography, software piracy and theft of intellectual property, stealing identities, unauthorized access, cloning of website amongst others.

It can be inferred from the findings that in Nigeria, people are valued in terms of what they possess and command economically. Conversely, those without economic success are undervalued and the pressure to achieve success is intensified despite the harsh economic condition such as unemployment amongst others. This necessitated the ability of individuals to devise survival strategies and attain economic success by indulging in social media fraud. However, the increasing rates of cybercrime in the society has become a strong threat to Nigeria’s e-commerce growth and has led to ill-reputation internationally and consequently denied some innocent Nigerians certain opportunities abroad. The perpetrators of social media fraud are not far-fetched; they are our brothers, friends, colleague, distant relatives and neighbours who can be tamed under appropriate circumstances with the right and positive communication, orientation, education and empowerment.

5.5 Recommendations

The recommendations for this research are proffered based on the major findings on the study.

The recommendations are as follows:

  1. Youths should be empowered through the creation of jobs.
  2. The study has indentified youths within the ages of 18-30years to be the most frequent perpetrators of social media fraud and in addition, the study has also discovered that these youths are either misguided or misdirected by peers, celebration of unknown wealth amongst others. The study therefore recommends that the young ones should be enlightenment on the consequences of social media fraud.
  3. Government should continue to cooperate with IT industries to develop adequate strategy to fight social media fraud.
  4. There should be zero tolerance to corruption at all levels.
  5. Cyber-criminals arrested should be prosecuted immediately to deter a would-be-offender.
  6. The findings showed that cyber-criminals live in the society, as such; prevention of cybercrime requires the co-operation of all the citizens and not just the law enforcement agencies. It is therefore, recommended that everyone should watch and report to law enforcement agencies anyone who indulges in social media fraud.
  7. Our ethical values should be redefined. Vague!!!
  8. Finally, the study shows that youths involved in social media fraud are either in tertiary institutions or have graduated from tertiary institutions; the study therefore, recommends that curriculum which will include courses on social media fraud, cyber-management and its prevention should be introduced at both tertiary and secondary schools to take care of the present social changes.

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