Modern Nigerian Scammer Slang Language

Modern Nigerian Scammer Slang Language

How Scammers Operate

A SCARS Insight

Scammers Are Known For Developing Their Own Slang, But It Has Gone From Just A Few Words To Almost A Language

As part of the strategies developed to ‘institutionalize’ scammers and their illicit business, and evade the punitive hand(s) of the Nigerian and international law enforcement agencies, cyber scammers in Nigeria have devised various strategies, including the deployment of anti-language and slangy expressions in their transactional and social interaction.

Studies on cybercrime in the Nigerian context have largely addressed the phenomenon from the sociological, economical and information technological perspectives with little attention paid to it from a linguistic perspective. Therefore, this study investigates the linguistic strategies employed by cyber scammers in Southwestern Nigeria in their social and transactional interaction.

Findings reveal slang coinages and overlexicalisation, and relexicalization (semantic extensions) are anti-language phenomena characterizing cyber scammers’ language in the region.

In other words, scammers are inventing their own language or terminology in their work and interpersonal or organizational relationships.

The full PDF of the study is below, but here are some of the important findings!

Types Of Cybercrimes In Nigeria

Nigeria’s cybercrimes include cloning of websites, false representations, Internet purchase and other e–commerce kinds of fraud.

The commonest forms of cybercrimes in Nigeria are financial fraud, cloning of electronic mails, identity theft (which often manifests or comes in form of emails emanating from impostors claiming to be representing certain financial institutions and requesting customers to supply certain sensitive information about their accounts to avoid their accounts being blocked, thus making transactions impossible) credit card theft, cyber harassment, fraudulent electronic mail, cyber laundering, malware, and cloning of websites.

Prevalent in Nigeria include:

  • Yahoo attack, which involves the use of e-mail address-harvesting devices to obtain information about the prospective victim’s e-mail address(es) from the Internet access points, with the intention of sending such scam messages;
  • hacking which has to do with the perpetrator breaking the security codes of financial institutions or organizations for e-commerce,
  • funds point cards and e-marketing products sites;
  • software piracy (illegal reproduction and distribution of software applications, games, and movies);
  • malware dissemination,
  • phishing (cloning of products and e-commerce sites/pages with the aim of defrauding unsuspecting victims);
  • spoofing (the process of having a computer on a network to operate like another, usually one with exceptional access rights, so as to access information on the other systems on the network);
  • cyber plagiarism (stealing other peoples’ ideas via the Internet public domains);
  • cyberstalking (in which the fraudster does a follow-up on the unsuspecting victim by sharing emails and entering the chat rooms frequently with them);
  • cyber defamation (in which the scam perpetrator sends e-mails containing defamatory contents to people related to the victim or posts such on a website);
  • salami attack (a technique through which small amounts of assets are removed from a larger pool. The stolen assets are removed one slice at a time (Hassan et al, 2012, p. 627).

Of course, there is more, with romance scams and BEC scams having the highest priority and profitability.


What is this?

At certain times and places we come across special forms of language generated by some portion of a subset of society – kind of an anti-society; these we may call “anti-languages.” An anti-language serves to create and maintain social structure through conversation, just as an everyday language does; but the social structure is of a particular kind, in which certain elements are strongly foregrounded. This gives to the anti-language a special character in which metaphorical modes of expression are the norm; patterns of this kind appear at all levels, phonological, lexico grammatical, and semantic. The study of anti-languages offers further insights into the relation between language and social structure, and into the way in which text functions in the realization of social contexts
(Halliday, 1976: 1)

We provide this so that victims may be watchful for these terms in the course of their conversations with these criminals!

Table 1. Initialisms in cyber scammers’ language

Item Antilanguage/Slangy expression Source Language Conventional meaning Yahoo business Usage
1 TF English Transfer
2 MO English Money order Money order
3 LR English Liberty reserved Liberty reserved (This is a mode of payment).
4 MTCN English Money Transfer Control Number This is an acronym for Money Transfer Control Number
5 CC English Credit card
6 O G English Original Gangster
7 FMT English Format

Table 2. Coinage in cyber scammers’ language

Item Anti-language/Slangy expression Source Language Conventional meaning Yahoo Business Usage
1 Bad market English This refers to an unsuccessful business attempt, especially when a prospect detects the pranks of the yahoo boys and withdraws from a proposed transaction with them.
2 Jonzing Nigerian



This is used when a prospect/target victim has discovered the pranks of the yahoo boys but pretends to play along.
3 Ọká ti fo/ Iṣẹ́ ti já Yoruba This is a Yoruba expression that means “the secret has leaked”. This is usually used when a business plan is foiled, especially when it involves the intervention of the security agency.
4 Grinding English Grinding is an adjective in English usually used to qualify poverty. Browsing/ chatting online with a prospective victim “maga”.
5 Eke NP  – It means police in yahoo boys’ parlance
6 Maye Female victim (mugùn)
7 Maga Male victim (mugun)
8 Múgùn Victim, male or female
9 Ọpata NP Nonsense
10 Noke Defraud
11 Yawa NP Trouble Trouble
12 Gba control Codemixed Yoruba-


Hit the jackpot
13 Wire English In English, to ‘wire’ is to transfer currency from one What yahoo boys have done here is to reduplicate the term wire to coin their own expression wire which has an entirely different meaning
account to another, especially when it involves international transactions. from the word ‘wire’ in the general sense. In this context, wire is hacking into (international) bank websites in order to make use of the code for illegal withdrawals and transactions (through pickers). This practice is not limited to banks; it is also extended to multinationals and international organizations.
14 Wash English Generally, Nigerians wash dirty items such as clothes, used, plates, etc. Fake currency. This process also involves reduplication
15 G-boy/G-nigga English Yahoo boy/cyber scammer
16 Gbẹ́nusi Yoruba This has no conventional meaning in the Yoruba language, except when used as part of a sentence; for instance, Gbe enu si  microphone yen

‘draw your mouth close to the microphone

The imperative mono-lexical sentence in cyber scam parlance means ‘celebrate or throw a big party after a successful deal’.
17 Thugger Yahoo boy
18 Gbé pósí Yoruba Carry casket To celebrate (usually after a successful deal). This is usually done at parties in clubhouses, pubs, and relaxation centers
19 Come and marry English ‘Come and marry’ is a concept in yahoo business where the scammer pretends to be in love with the suspect (usually a foreigner) and promises marriage to him/her with the intention of defrauding him/her
20 Sáná wọlé Yoruba Begin the party with fireworks. The expression is used by Yahoo boys at parties
21 Ṣáṣẹ́ Yoruba Browse all through the night, searching for clients (prospective maga or mugu)
22 Come and carry English This phrase is employed in the context where an unsuspecting victim has been deceived into paying for goods or items that do not exist
23 Hacker ìkà Codemixing of English-


An expert hacker
24 Balling English Spending money lavishly
25 Baller English A yahoo boy who spends money lavishly
26 Owó afẹ́fẹ́ Yoruba Money made from cyber scam
27 sha prapra Original, confirmed, authentic
28 Sakamanje Lie/scam
29 Èkélébè Police
30 Sayé Yoruba Enjoy/ lavish money
31 Wọ́ke Yoruba To gain illicit access to the codes on a prospective victim’s credit card, with the intention of using same to perpetrate illegal money transfer, withdrawal or any other fraudulent act
32 Home boy English An amateur yahoo boy who is just learning the ropes
33 Body IP English Body Insurance Policy: Voodoo, charm
34 Westy English Western Union This word is derived from the expression Western Union through a morphological process called blending. This is the means through which yahoo boys claim whatever money has been deposited into their account by victims (maga).
35 Akante Account
36 Lappy Laptop, coined from the word laptop via a clipping
37 Gbéra Yoruba Arise Wise up (used to encourage fellow yahoo boys to intensify their efforts or up their scam skills or practices)
38 Jápa Yoruba run away
39 Ebelesu Yoruba Street boy
40 Lamgbe Yoruba Someone that is slow/foolish in nature, is usually used to describe a victim that falls easily
41 Kizo To stick to.., used to describe a situation where a yahoo boy is determined to stick to a particular victim until he finally succeeds in achieving his aim. This is in view of the fact that many ‘victims’ can be very difficult to dupe.
42 Lamba Lies or false stories narrated by a scammer to win the trust or confidence of the prospective victim
43 Omo beta Yoruba/English code mixed A nice yahoo fellow (perhaps due to his willingness to help others with proceeds from a ‘deal’)
44 Azza Account number
45 Saint Sami-Ganja English/unknown code-mixing A very successful yahoo boy
46 Gbẹ́sẹ̀ kúrò lóri wire yẹn Yoruba/English Remove leg     from wire Avoid a/the risky move (usually as a warning statement to a fellow yahoo boy perceived to be threading a dangerous path) or seen to be after a ‘client’ suspected to be smarter or can easily initiate their arrest process if he/she is duped
47 Ijoba wire Yoruba/English A yahoo clique/group
48 Science man English A native/witch doctor
49 Ká pátá[1] Yoruba A new practice among yahoo boys in which ladies’ pants and men’s boxers are being stolen for ritual purposes. This is also known as Free yahoo
50 System boy English Yahoo boy
[1] This is a new phase in yahoo yahoo practice, following the stage of feces eating, the physical killing of human beings to boost ‘business’ by yahoo boys. From the information gathered, the pants and boxers stolen are used for voodoo or charms that boost yahoo business while the fellows whose pants/boxers are stolen die mysteriously.

Table 3. Semantic extension in cyber scammers’ anti-language

Item Anti-language/Slangy expression Source Language Conventional meaning Yahoo Business Usage
1 Ọká Yoruba In Yoruba, ọká is a type of snake, that is slow to bite but very deadly when it does. In Yahoo business, it means secret
2 Hammer English  to hit or kick something with a lot of force This means a jackpot, a “business” boom. Yahoo boys use this expression when they have just recorded a success in their business.
3 Àpá Yoruba The mark of an old wound/scar The digits on a credit card.
4 Bombing English To destroy something by exploding a

bomb inside it

This is the process of sending different messages to different “maga/maye” by using bulk sms. Eg Dear Customer, your ATM has been blocked. To reactivate it, please call 000000
5 Ewé Yoruba This is a Yoruba word that means “leaf”. However, in the context of the yahoo business, this is used to refer to a cheque.
6 Format English The way in which information is arranged and stored on a computer Series of e-mails specially prepared to be sent to prospective victims. It contains lies and falsehoods, systematically package to deceive unsuspecting victims. This could even come in form of SMS (Short message service).
7 Yoruba In Yoruba, ‘Já’ means cut, used when an item like a rope cuts. This in yahoo business means “Fail”, hence such expressions as “iṣẹ ti já” .This literarily means “it has failed”. This is used when a business plan fails or a prospective victim discovers the pranks of yahoo boys.
8 Log-in English Log-in in English implies entering one’s details to have access to one’s account, usually a mail account. In yahoo, this implies a stolen username and password details.
9 All night English All night in Nigerian English (NE) refers to Vigil Night browsing
10 Loader English One who loads One who deposits/pays fake currency or cheque into a victim’s account
12 Ọmọ ọpẹ́ Yoruba Ope’s child A highly successful yahoo boy
13 Owó ọpẹ́ Yoruba Ope’s money or thanksgiving money A sum of money (made through yahoo yahoo) that puts a smile on the face of the
14 Àgbà awo Yoruba Chief priest/ a senior (occult) iniate A senior fellow in cybercrime business
15 Run down English A detailed report  A reduction in the size or quality of


Reducing the worth of a yahoo boy
16 Legit English Legitimate In the parlance of yahoo boys, Legit is a derivation from the word ‘legitimate’. Yahoo boys use this term to describe their illegal activities as being legal or legitimate. They also use it to express the authenticity of the information they have about clients. This is derived from clipping
17 Blow English The word blow has many meanings in English none of which includes the one expressed by cyber scammers in Nigeria. Become successful. Used to describe a situation where a yahoo boy has suddenly recorded a business success. It is common to hear expressions such as ‘mo fẹ bloẃ ” I want to make it big
18 Billing English Spelling out the amount to be paid for a service rendered or an item bought. Demanding for money from a victim
19 Jazz English A genre   of music Charm
20 Dye English Change the color of a clothing material Disappoint/dupe/scam
21 Client English One to whom a service is rendered A person planned to be duped or scammed
22 Address English Description of a place where one resides or works, etc Bank account (details)
23 Hottie hottie English One who is very

sexually attractive

In yahoo parlance, the word is reduplicated to derive hottie hottie. It refers to a yahoo boy that is currently doing well in the business. The synonym for this phrase in

yahoo parlance is ọmọ better (a better child)

24 Pósí Yoruba Casket A container, usually a wooden box, in which drinks are brought to yahoo boys at clubhouses. This lexical item is otherwise called ‘àpótí ọrọ’̀ ‘the box of wealth’ as a form of overlexicalisation
25 Logistics English The careful organization of a complicated activity so that it happens in a successful and effective way The gradual process by which funds are illegally moved from one account to another.

Table 4. Semantic extension

Item Anti-language/Slangy expression Source Language Conventional meaning Yahoo Business Usage
1 Alibaba Alibaba is the nickname of a popular Nigerian stand-up comedy Getting information about wealthy foreigners, particularly about their credit card details in order to use it order for goods from above
2 Papa Ajasco Papa Ajasco is a popular name in the Nigerian entertainment industry. He is one of the major characters in a regular TV soap opera produced by Wale

Adenuga (WAP)

Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) a unit of the Nigeria Police specially saddled with the task of handling cases involving hardened criminals


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Scammer Language AjayiVol13Issue2IJCC2019


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