Yahoo Boys Romance Scams in 2022: The Must-know Signs & Protection
Romance scams have been the talk of the town because of internet penetration worldwide in the last two decades. Platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are growing day in and day out. Hence, people can interact despite their location in the world.
On the other hand, online dating is no longer strange for both the young and the old. There are numerous dating sites where people go to find their life partners. All you need to do is to create an account, have it verified, and start looking for a perfect match.
And in the process of looking for love, most people have become scam victims. One of the largest romance scammers group is the Yahoo boys. For this reason, this article is to help you know the signs of their romance scams and how to protect yourself.
Table of Contents
- Things To Know about Yahoo Boys Romance Scams
- How to Identify A Yahoo Boy
- Driving Factors into Romance Scams
- Areas of Specialization for Yahoo Boys
- The Do’s and Don’ts- How to Protect Yourself from Romance Scams
- Laws and Proposed Reforms to Deal with Yahoo Boys
- Could You Be A Victim Of A “Yahoo Boy” Romance Scam?!
- Horror Stories About Romance Scams
- The Bottom Line – Protect Yourself
Things To Know about Yahoo Boys Romance Scams
Romance scams are happening all over the world. However, West Africa and especially Nigeria have a high concentration of multiple romance scammers. According to Federal Trade Commission, American victims lost more than $475 million in 2019 alone in romance scams. This is a clear indication that yahoo boys are on a mission of stealing heavily from people searching for love on dating sites.
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Most romance scams, if not all, begin with a scammer identifying prey on an online dating platform. Then, the scammer befriends the victim and pretends to be looking for love that can lead to marriage.
Most of these yahoo boys will come to you pretending to be so much in love with you. When you fall into their trap, they will start asking for favors a few weeks after the so-called online relationship begins. At first, they may request money to cover small bills or buy food since they haven’t received their paycheck.
If you are not keen, you will fall for them because it is just a little money that you can give out to any of your friends. And within no time, the young Nigerians start to ask for more money in a few weeks or even days.
The romance scammers then graduate to asking for money to cater to huge bills. For example, they may say they need money to cover a medical bill or bail out a relative. And in most cases, you have to send the money to a third party who will then send it to the person you met on the internet. All this time, you may not realize it is a scam since you want to help your new catch.
By the time you come back to your senses, you will realize that there was no sick relative. It was a scam!
This is the script of most yahoo boys who have managed to scam people on dating sites.
Let’s look at this scenario of Mark (not his real name), a repentant romance scammer in Nigeria.
Mark confessed that sending fraudulent messages to potential victims on online dating sites or social media platforms was low-risk and profiting. He started this behavior during his campus days.
Mark used to go on dating websites and look for profiles of persons living in developed countries like the US, and if they were from Nigeria, he would pick on those residing in cities like Abuja and Lagos.
He would then present himself as this handsome man looking for a wife and sometimes lie to the scam victim that he was searching for a life partner after his wife took away his children and property to gain mercy. Also, he would even accompany the chat with some pictures to make the victims believe. As a result, He would make money from such romance scams because victims pitied him.
He also confesses to stealing money by sending misleading information on online platforms for people to send their bank account details. He says that he made profits though it was not easy to succeed.
Do you know where Yahoo boys got their name? It came from the Yahoo Messenger tool, one of the romance scams’ origins two decades ago. These cons use the tool to chat with strangers and pretend to be looking for love. Once you fall for their lies, the game begins.
Even though romance scammers can be found in any part of the world, most facts collected prove that most internet scams happen in Nigeria. When victims seek help from authorities, investigation shows that the scammer’s IP address is from Nigeria.
Young Nigerians involve themselves in online dating scams because of the extreme poverty in the country. As a result, they find ways to make money without considering their morals. For them, getting money to secure basic needs is more important than the victims they lure.
The yahoo boy can steal thousands of dollars from a victim by playing with their emotions back and forth until they get what they want. They even use a third person, probably in other parts of the US, to get the money.
Once a romance scammer realizes that you have started to know their behavior, they move from being a friend to an enemy. They start threatening you so that you can comply with their requests.
These Guys Are Pros
How can you send money to a stranger you have just met online? I know that the question you will ask a romance victim?
However, these yahoo boys are pros in what they are doing, and you will easily buy their idea. Mostly, they go after single women and widows and pretend to be the man you have always wanted.
Mostly, they will push for a romantic relationship very fast by claiming how they love you. This is to win your heart and gain trust from you so that they can play their dirty game.
Once they get you, they will use their scam script to guide them during conversations. The script usually has all the answers to the questions you have and will also provide reassurance when needed so that you don’t realize their tricks.
Besides, you will notice that their profile picture does not reflect the real person. Mostly, they use photos of military guys. According to New York Times reporter Jack Nicas, the military represents authority, trust, and romance. Therefore, scammers use military people profiles because most women and especially in middle America, perceive the military guy as the ideal man.
They may also use the name of a famous person like actor Jim Lyke but misspell it to Jim Ike. This makes the victim think they are chatting with the person on the profile picture, yet it is a romance scammer.
They Will Take Anything And Everything From You
These young men scamming people on dating sites take anything from their victims. Whether you are willing to send them little or huge amounts, they will be glad to receive them.
When they find kindhearted victims who are willing to drain their bank accounts, take loans or sell their properties, they will encourage them. In return, the yahoo boys will promise to love the victim. They also promise to return the money once they become financially stable but that never happens.
Romance victims have lost tens of thousands to these Nigerian young people. A scammer can target as many victims as they can fish to get a lot of money. Besides, they don’t refuse any amount because they are making profits on their sides.
The police are powerless
The majority of romance scammers engage in crimes because they know that the chances of being caught are next to zero. This is because Nigeria’s police force is not that vigorous, and victims take time to report them. Therefore, before the investigations are done, they will have escaped.
Besides, the Federal trade commission finds it hard to trace their identity because their IP address leads to the cyber cafe where any number of people are using the same IP address.
Besides, romance scammers create fake Facebook profiles that they use in their internet scams. They pool fake profile photos to use in their accounts to prove that the person the victim is talking to is the real person. Since you will never meet them in person, you can never realize they are faking it unless you use reverse image search services.
Therefore, unless social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram stop the creation of fake user accounts, Yahoo boys will always find room to thrive.
How to Identify A Yahoo Boy
It is frustrating to lose all your life savings to a scammer. Therefore, you need to know how to identify these yahoo boys to avoid falling into their traps. Even though it can be hard to notice them, here are some tips to help you;
They prefer to operate in a private environment
If you ask women who have fallen into the hands of scammers, they will tell you that they have been chatting through a direct messaging platform or a locked social media account.
When you meet a scammer on a dating site or a social media platform like Facebook, they insist that you move from talking on this platform and using private ones. According to Prof Allan Woodward, a Cybersecurity expert, scammers prefer to operate within a private environment where others cannot see them. Hence, they will ask you to switch your conversation in such environments.
They do so to hide because they are using fake profiles with fake pictures. Besides, they don’t want to go public because another victim may identify them when trying to scam you.
Besides, they will promise to come and see you in your home country, but they will never show up. They will keep talking about how they miss meeting you in person and plan for trips to come, but that will never come true. Some say that if they had money to pay for their flight ticket, they would land at the airport the next day. And since you have fallen in love with this romance scammer, you go to your bank account and send them money. And when you go to meet them at the airport, their phone remains silent, and you keep waiting for hours. Before it dawns on you, you are already scammed!
If you are a Nigerian resident, you can identify yahoo boys through the following characteristics;
They have braided, dyed, or locked hair
What have you done to your hair? Some people may judge you depending on how it looks. Even though dying and braiding hair for men has become a norm, young men with such hairstyles are suspected of being yahoo boys in Nigeria.
They wear earrings or ear studs
After dying your hair to other colors, you added ear studs? Wait, what do you want to insinuate?
Nigerians believe that there are things that differentiate a man from a woman. Surprisingly, ladies are not allowed to wear trousers in some parts of this country.
Therefore, unless you are a known celebrity, having earrings can make you a suspect of romance scams.
They ride expensive cars
Since Nigeria is a developing country, no one expects you to be riding a pushy car unless you are a politician. They believe that lowkey people should be using public means. Therefore, if your name doesn’t ring a bell, you may be suspected of fraud cases like romance scams if you are riding a Benz or Prado.
They use iPhone
Lol! does it mean that owning an iPhone is such a big idea in this country. During the EndSARS protest, Nigerians were protesting against a police force targeting young men living large. Therefore, if you had a car or iPhone, you could land in their hands because they thought probably you are among the yahoo boys.
They are always on their PC
This is one of the sure signs that someone is in the yahoo boys’ club. Since the country is still underdeveloped, people believe that office work is the only legit job and online jobs are questionable. Therefore, if you spend most of the time on your personal computer, you could be scamming people on dating sites.
They find it hard to give out cash
Do you have this friend who can take you on a date and spend money on clubs and parties but never gives you cash? Most yahoo boys don’t show their friends cash even when they have urgency. Instead, they will spoil them on dates.
They talk everything about exchange rates, Western union transfers, and Moneygram
Since they receive money from foreigners, you will hear them talking about exchange rates when with their friends. Besides, they will be keen on any current inflammation in exchange rates and the exchange market. Again, they may have a dedicated Mallam’s number to call and confirm about the exchange market.
They lie a lot
Since you don’t have the power to know how they acquired their wealth, yahoo boys tell all kinds of lies regarding their wealth. They will claim to be legit hardworking boys, yet they don’t have proof.
They show off
Most young men are carrying out romance scams on the internet love to show off their expensive lifestyles. If you head on to their Facebook account, you will find pictures of different cars they bought or the wines they take in clubs with their girls.
Driving Factors into Romance Scams
Why would a young Nigerian man waste his life in fraud activities?
Here are some of the reasons why they create fake profiles to con innocent people on online dating sites;
Compromised bank officials
For romance scammers to carry out their mission, they need informal networks around security agencies, banks, and partners in crime. And in Nigeria, the most common way of collecting fraudulent money is via bank, especially Western Union.
Therefore, yahoo boys collaborate with compromised bank officials through fake identities to get the money. This becomes successful because scammers use foreign names and don’t have recognized identity cards with their names.
Hence, with the help of a ‘friend’ who works in the bank, a fraudster can get money without attracting the attention of security companies. However, the bank workers also get their share after the successful fraud.
But why would bank officials engage in such a crime? The Nigerian banking sector is unstable, making most of the workers not to be committed to their course. Besides, large numbers of casual workers in banks are deployed, thus bringing the fear of unemployment in the industry. Therefore, they may risk getting other sources of income.
Who doesn’t want fame? In most countries, people in high ranks like political ones, are celebrated because of their wealth. Therefore, young men end up in cybercrime simply because they want wealth. They want to be known for their expensive lifestyle.
And since Nigerians don’t care about your source of wealth, young people fall for romance scam activities. Besides, technological development is lacking in Nigeria. As a result, their security agencies and police forces lack the power to detect romance crimes.
Lack of enforcement
As you have seen earlier, the people and the government don’t question a person’s source of wealth. Therefore, scammers aren’t afraid to carry out their fraud activities because no one will be concerned about their expensive lifestyle.
According to Ononugho, a Nigerian private investigator for crimes, the country must regulate and be able to identify people’s source of wealth if they want to fight cybercrime. Besides, he states that there should be a credible system to detect scams and scammers. This is because the law cannot be fully enforced. After all, those entrusted are not faithful.
Besides, one of the Yahoo boys repentant confessed that most security experts are greedy and want to become rich. Therefore, when asked to arrest a scammer, they accept bribes and free them.
Hence, having a specialized system to detect a fraud crime may help. It will allow the law to detect special tools scammers use to hack into victims’ private accounts, retrieve their details, and steal their money.
According to health experts, most internet scams are carried out by people with Personality Disorders. The romance scammer could have an Antisocial P.D. or Narcissistic P.D.
You will find that most romance scammers are addicted to gambling or are using drugs. They conduct romance scams to get money to cater to their additions. Hence, they pursue online relationships to get victims and finally steal money from them.
A romance scammer with Narcissistic P.D. feels entitled and lacks empathy. As a result, they engage in internet scams because they don’t care or understand the feelings of scam victims. On the other hand, those with Antisocial P.D. are cunning, lack empathy, and take risks.
All these people engage in romance scams for material gains such as financial, physical, or information gain. Besides, they may do it as a pleasure to see how their victims will be deceived.
Corruption and accessible scamming tools
The society we live in today is corrupt, and ‘every man for himself’ seems to be the order of the day. As a result, people, especially the young ones, find themselves in romance scams and crimes.
Besides, you must be intelligent to use the tools needed in a dating scam. That is why you will find that this is an industry for young people between the age of 26 and 50 years because they have the knowledge and skills to use them.
Fraudsters should also be able to access technology and computers to carry out fraud. Since most university-going students can easily access them and want money, they are likely to engage in romance scams.
Areas of Specialization for Yahoo Boys
For romance scammers to succeed in their crime, they must know where to pitch their tent. Therefore, they use different schemes to hook scam victims.
First, they can send fraudulent messages to online dating sites and social network sites. They send these messages to mislead victims so that they can send their bank details. Once they have your bank details, they use them to drain all your life savings.
Another technique used by these fraudsters is phishing. It is a technique to acquire sensitive information such as your passwords, usernames, or credit card details. When they get such information from you, they can do identity theft or pay a massive bill with your credit card.
Finally, yahoo boys carry out ATM fraud. They usually stand at ATM galleries and pretend to help vulnerable users such as the illiterate or physically challenged. They will then swap their cards and defraud them.
Romance scammers conduct their mission mostly on weekends, especially outside the state where the account is legally recognized. This is because banks are closed on weekends, and hence the victims won’t be able to stop illegal transactions until Monday morning. As a result, fraudsters will have time to transfer the money without being caught.
The Do’s and Don’ts- How to Protect Yourself from Romance Scams
Anyone can become a dating scam victim even though scammers target people who seem to be lonely, the elderly, and widowed.
Here are some actions to take to avoid falling into the hands of internet scams;
Take it slow
When you meet on a dating site with someone, take your time to know them. Ask them a lot of questions and take note of any inconsistency. For example, if a person claims to be in the military, ask them the position they hold and compare it with their uniform to see if they are lying.
Notify your family or friends
If you have a love interest online, please talk to your family or friends. Keep talking about the conversations you are having with your match. They will help you identify any red flags soon before you become a victim of identity theft.
Check your suitor’s profile picture using Google’s image search
How is the profile photo of your so-called suitor? Does it look like that of a real person or that of a model? You can do a reverse image search if you doubt their profile picture. Romance scammers tend to pull random photos from Facebook or other social media platforms and use them in their fake accounts.
Be aware of overly complimentary and flirtatious emails
Most online scammers will start flirting with you by sending you extremely flattering emails. For example, they can tell you, ‘Hi my queen, I wish I could fly to see you right now because I am madly in love with you. You are my sunshine. Please do not fall for such because the person wants to lure you into their trap. You can know such emails by pasting them on a search engine to see if the exact words appear on a website that exposes romance scams.
If you realize that you are being scammed, cut off communication
If you notice any red flags in your online relationship, please stop chatting with the scammer. Whether they had promised to marry you or open a business, don’t fall because of your desperate situation.
Notify the dating site
Once you cut off communication with the scammer, it is essential to notify the dating website or the owner of the dating app. Let them know the identity of the scammer. This will help them to create awareness and prevent other people become prey.
Don’t reveal too much personal information
Never give your details to a person you have just found online. Keep your usernames, credit card details, and banking information a secret. Online scammers use such information to manipulate you or commit identity theft behind your back.
Don’t feel secure because you are the one who made the first move
It doesn’t matter who approached the other first. You could be the one who approached the scammer, and you end up a victim. There are a majority of fraudsters on dating websites waiting for victims to come to them.
Don’t send money, gift cards, or cryptocurrencies to people you have only interacted with online
Most romance scams involve money theft. Once a scammer has lured you, they ask you for small favors. They may even introduce you to a business, but they con you thousands of dollars in the end. They even promise to pay you back, but you will never get back your funds.
Never send intimate pictures to a person you are interacting with online
Even if a person swears to love you to the moon and back, it is wrong to send them your intimate photos. Both men and women have found themselves in a dark corner after their photos were used for sextortion.
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Laws and Proposed Reforms to Deal with Yahoo Boys
Due to the increase of romance scams in the world, various organizations have come up to fight its body. Kathy Waters and Bryan Denny, two ACCO experts, have formed an organization known as Advocating Against Romance Sammers (AARS) that creates awareness and pushes for legal reform to deal with identity theft and romance scams.
In the current law, creating fake profiles to scam people for money goes against the community standards set by major internet platforms such as Instagram, Google, and Facebook. Even though tech companies have implemented procedures that ensure people use their real identities, scammers have still had their way into dating sites and social media platforms. Besides, no current law forces tech firms to remove fake profiles.
According to Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA230), an interactive computer service provider has immunity from user-generated content. Therefore, dating websites and social media platforms are not liable for any romance scam on their platforms.
Due to the increase in relationship scams and the risks they bring, reforms are proposed to tighten the law on social media and dating apps. The Congress of CDA230 is working on two reforms currently. The two bills proposed are H.R. 6586 ‘Social Media Accountability and Account Verification Act’ and the H.R. 6587 ‘Social Media Fraud Mitigation Act.’
These laws will help to protect people from being scammed. You will have to use your real identity on your social media account. Therefore, the rate of relationship scamming will reduce with time.
Could You Be A Victim Of A “Yahoo Boy” Romance Scam?!
If you have been a victim of romance scams, you can tell how it is painful to lose your funds or even your identity. Besides, the hopes of marriage fade away because you had fallen for this ‘ideal man’ you had found.
If you think you are being scammed by your ‘friend’ online, here are some of the things to do;
First, perform a reverse image search on Google to see if your suitor’s profile picture is being used by someone else in another place.
Second, copy and paste a section of your chats into Google search to see if the language is the same with people using different profile pictures.
If your match claims to be living far away, like in Canada, let them send you a photo of themselves standing in front of a famous Canadian monument or holding that day’s local newspaper.
You can also request them to send you a selfie of them standing on one leg within an allotted timeframe. If you are being scammed, the scammer won’t send you the selfie because they know it does match their profile picture.
Finally, you can do a background check on the person you speak to. Numerous online platforms are offering these services. It will help you know everything about them and if they are scamming you.
Horror Stories About Romance Scams
People who work in helping romance victims hear some horror stories. Let’s have a look at some stories of romance scams;
The story of Renee Holland is one of the romance scams that will bring you to tears. A handsome military soldier scammed her on Facebook. The married lady started chatting with this man, and their chatting went into a months-long relationship. Renee was sending his suitor large sums of money during all this time. Finally, it was the day to go and pick up her friend at the airport. However, the man never showed up, and when Renee Holland realized she was scammed, she took too many sleeping pills and started to overspend on the highway. When the investigations were done, it was confirmed that the photos on this man’s Facebook account were not his actual photos. Besides, his profile picture was a common one in other fake accounts. And just like other scammers, Renee’s scammer used other people to receive money from her. Unfortunately, her husband later killed her and also killed himself.
Another romance scam happened to an editor of a popular site called Romance Scam. She was scammed back in 2015 by an online dater who took over $350,000 from her. This left her heartbroken and almost bankrupt. As a result, she formed a platform to expose scammers and helps victims.
One of the security experts, Lisa Forte, was contacted by a British lawyer in her 40s. The lawyer had given $350,0000 to a scammer in South America. To add salt to the injury, she had taken the risk of re-mortgaging her house to get the money to send to her so-called suitor.
There is also Wayne May, who runs a group for scam survivors telling a story of a man in Russia. The man gave out his $250,000 to another man; he believed they had a secret relationship.
In a nutshell, scam victims have lost thousands of dollars in scams. As a result, they have gone bankrupt, and some ended their lives because of being heartbroken and losing their funds.
Therefore, do not compromise with a stranger on online platforms. Be keen as you search for love because you may become a victim. Some of the warning signs from security experts to alert you include;
- Scammers will send you a picture of a model and not their real snapshot. Others use military soldier’s photos because they know that most women will fall for a soldier.
- Also, the scammer will quickly request you to shift your conversations from the dating website you met to an instant messaging platform or email. They will talk to you softly so that you fall into their trap.
- Then, they will give you lavish attention after you move your conversation to a private platform. Although it is not wrong to get attention from a person who claims to love you, scammers are too much. They will keep sending you flirtatious emails and texts to draw your attention.
- After winning your heart, the scammer promises to meet you in person. He will keep talking about how he misses you, but he will never show up. Some even plan for their trip, and when you go to meet them at the airport, the phones remain silent. That is when you know that it was a lie!
- Finally, if someone you met on the internet suddenly starts to ask you for money, kindly do not give out. They will start asking you to settle for their tiny bills and with time, before you realize it, you could have given them all your funds.
The Bottom Line – Protect Yourself
Romance scams are everywhere, and no one is immune to them! This is because yahoo boys’ job is to con everyone they meet on the internet and falls for their trap. They find victims and use their scripted lines to scam you. They pretend to be looking for love, but they want to steal funds or identity from you in the real sense.
To avoid being a victim, it is essential to know whom you are talking to on the internet. You can achieve this by doing a reverse image search on Google for the person you are talking to. You will find out if he is the real person on his profile or if he is using a military soldier photo.
Besides, if they start asking you for money favors, please do not send them. They will keep asking you for more, and you will have sent them thousands of dollars within no time.
Lastly, stay alert as you interact on online platforms. Keep your eyes open and if you realize that you are being scammed, notify the dating site you are using. It would help if you also cut off communication with the romance scammer. When you do so, you can enjoy dating online without falling for romance scams!
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Author: Ruth Jesse
Ruth is a life coach who specialises in finance, relationships and career development. Outside work, she loves writing novels and guides for personal development.