SCARS™ Insight: A Cybercriminal Study – Narratives of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Agents
For the first time, there has been a study of what it is like on the ground in Nigeria from the perspective of the Agents of the EFCC!
PLEASE NOTE; THIS IS WRITTEN FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE NIGERIANS AND IS NOT NECESSARILY SENSITIVE TO SCAM VICTIMS.
ALSO NOTE THAT THERE IS VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE LARGER SCAMMING ORGANIZATIONS – THEY ARE MOSTLY IGNORED SINCE THE EFCC RARELY INTERACTS WITH THEM.
A Study by:
Suleman Lazarus is an Austrian independent scholar who is currently a visiting lecturer at the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom. He is a qualitative sociologist and his research interests include the cultural dimensions of digital crimes. While he completed an empirical study on the connections between hip hop artists and cybercriminals in 2018, one of his theoretical works in 2019 nuances “the synergy between feminist criminology and the Tripartite Cybercrime Framework.” He is also a published poet and his most recent poem is entitled, “Betrayals in Academia and a Black Demon from Ephesus.”
Geoffrey U. Okolorie is a digital forensics expert, a fraud examiner and cybercrime investigator who is currently a postgraduate research student in the UK. He is a member of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria, as well as a member of various local and international professional organizations.
While this article sets out to advance our knowledge about the characteristics of Nigerian cybercriminals (Yahoo-Boys), it is also the first study to explore the narratives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) officers concerning them. It appraises symbolic interactionist insights to consider the ways in which contextual factors and worldview may help to illuminate officers’ narratives of cybercriminals and the interpretations and implications of such accounts. Semi-structured interviews of forty frontline EFCC officers formed the empirical basis of this study and were subjected to a directed approach of qualitative content analysis. While prior studies, for example, indicated that only a group of cybercriminals deploy spiritual and magical powers to defraud victims (i.e. modus operandi), our data analysis extended this classification into more refined levels involving multiple features. In particular, analysis bifurcates cybercriminals and their operations based on three factors: educational-attainment, modus-operandi, and networks-collaborators. Results also suggest that these cybercriminals and their operations are embedded in “masculinity-and-material-wealth”. These contributions thus have implications for a range of generally accepted viewpoints about these cybercriminals previously taken-for-granted. Since these criminals have victims all over the world, insights from our study may help various local and international agencies
- [a] to understand the actions/features of these two groups of cybercriminals better and develop more effective response strategies; and
- [b] to appreciate the vulnerabilities of their victims better and develop more adequate support schemes.
We also consider the limitations of social control agents’ narratives on criminals.
In Nigeria, over 77% of youths live on less than USD2 per day (African Development Bank, 2018), and online and offline lives are inextricably intertwined (Lazarus, 2019a; Lazarus 2019b; Powell et al., 2018). Even though the link between offending and poverty is far from straightforward (Newburn, 2016), unemployment and poverty have strong connections with online crimes “within a given nation” (Kigerl, 2012, p. 483). What is notable is that the Nigerian youths have been disproportionately implicated in defrauding victims all over the world (Akanle et al., 2016). Internet crimes are global issues (Kirillova et al., 2017; Wall, 2007; Yar, 2017), and millions of people with email accounts have undoubtedly encountered Nigerian scam emails (Rich, 2017). Consequently, recent years have witnessed an upsurge of research on victims of cyber-fraud that supposedly originates from Nigeria (Cross et al., 2018; Owen et al., 2017; Sorell and Whitty, 2019).
We still, however, know very little about Nigerian cyber-fraudsters (Lazarus, 2018). Remarkably, no study has attempted to explore the narratives of officers who have close interactions with these cybercriminals, even though frontline law enforcement officers who routinely investigate, arrest, interview, interrogate and prosecute these cyber- fraudsters have insiders’ insights. The narratives of these frontline law enforcement officers, therefore, merit examination. This study asks: “what are the narratives of frontline law enforcement officers about cyber-fraudsters and their activities in Nigeria?”.
The bifurcation of the Nigerian cybercriminals: Narratives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) agents. Lazarus, S., & Okolorie, G. U. (2019).ACCEPTEDANDFINALCOPYLazarusOkolorie
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