Romance scams have been around for almost two decades and as platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook continue to grow there will always be scammers out there looking for innocent victims. And the “Yahoo Boys” are among the largest group of romance scammers on the planet.
Things To Know about “Yahoo Boys”
The setup for romance scams is almost universal: A scammer identifies a victim and befriends her, preying on her need for friendship or even love. After a while the scammer starts asking for favors. At first it might be money to cover a small bill, or even money to buy food if a paycheck isn’t received. If the victim agrees, suddenly the requests start shifting toward more money and a greater sense of urgency.
All of a sudden money is needed to bail a relative out of jail, or to pay for expensive medicine for a sick child or parent. The money has to be sent to a third party in most cases, even though it defies logic to send money to someone else so that they can transfer it to the person you’ve met online. Unfortunately at this point the scammer has his victim on such a tight leash she doesn’t think about logic anymore. She wants to help.
At the end of the day, though, there are no sick children or family members being held for ransom. It’s all a scam.
This is a common script carried out by the Yahoo Boys, who are mainly based in African countries with a specific concentration in Nigeria.
The “Yahoo Boys” get their name from the once popular messaging tool Yahoo Messenger, which is one of the places that romance scams originated some two decades ago. Yahoo Boys would start conversations with strangers, casting out their lines to see if any victims took the bait. Once hooked, the scam would begin.
Though it might sound odd to form a generalization about scammers based upon a single country, the simple fact is that internet cafes are widely available in Nigeria and Yahoo Boys often create and sell the “scripts” they use to lure victims to other scammers to make money.
When victims end up going to the authorities, if their cases are investigated they often show that the scammer’s IP address originates in Nigeria. The country’s extreme poverty pushes the scammers to find new victims without concern for the morality of their actions. To them, getting out of poverty is far more important than thinking about their victims. They lure countless tens of thousands of dollars from their victims, playing their emotions against them to get exactly what they want. They even launder some of the money by funneling it through other victims in other parts of the United States.
When victims start to get uneasy or start to catch on to the scam, the Yahoo Boys go from friend to foe, threatening their victims to force them into compliance.
These Guys Are Pros
Though it sounds crazy that people will send money to strangers, consider that the Yahoo Boys often prey upon widows and single women, becoming the man they dream about. Once trust is gained, the favors start to roll in.
They have scripts to help guide conversations, helping them answer questions and provide reassurance when needed, so that the red flags never go up.
They often pull photos from random Facebook accounts, assuming the identity of people in the military, first responders and the like so that their stories gain legitimacy. They have an answer for every question, it seems, so that their victims often become blinded by the scam without knowing what’s happening until it’s too late.
They Will Take Anything And Everything From You
It doesn’t matter if you send $25 or $2500, the romance scammers known as Yahoo Boys will take whatever you are willing to send, and they’ll keep asking for more.
Part of the scam relies on finding kindhearted victims who are willing to drain bank accounts, take out loans or even sell their houses to provide for their victims. In return the victims are promised love, and they’re given empty promises about getting their money back when the scammer’s situation allows for it. But it never happens.
Yahoo Boys can make tens of thousands of dollars a month depending on how many scams they’re running at a time, which is why they cast a wide net to see how many victims they can find. They’ll take small amounts and large amounts; at the end of the day, every little bit is welcome.
The Police Are Powerless
The problem with romance scammers like the Yahoo Boys is that they know that the odds of being caught are next to nothing. Since they’re based in Nigeria, and since it usually takes a while for their victims to report them to authorities, they’re usually long gone by the time an investigation begins.
Police and government officials are practically powerless to stop them because even if they trace the IP address, the trail leads to an internet cafe where any number of people have access to the same IP address.
The other challenge comes with the scammers’ ability to create fake Facebook profiles to use as a front for their scams. It’s very easy to take photos from random strangers and create a profile that can be used to prove that the person a victim is talking to is real. Though they’ll never meet in person, or chat on the phone for that matter, they can manufacture pictures that prove that they’re traveling abroad or are stuck on deployment.
Until companies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can stop the creation of fake user profiles, they’re essentially handing the Yahoo Boys the vehicle they need to run their scams.
It is important that you perform a quick background check on who you are actually speaking to on the internet (you can do that here). The common questions that spring to mind are:
- Are they using fake identities?
- Am I really speaking to a real person from the USA?
To help the users of this site we have partnered with BeenVerified so you can check exactly that. This checking service reveals everything about this would be romance scammer and if they are a real person!
Helpful Information Available on BeenVerified:
- Arrest Records (Please check this!)
- Photos (Helps check if same photos are used for multiple profiles with different names)
- Email Addresses
- Phone Numbers
- Social Profiles (IMPORTANT – Do they have a real social profile or multiple)
- Home Addresses
- Relatives & Associates
- Sex Offenders Register (Be safe who you are meeting!)
- And More…
If you have the slightest doubt about who you are speaking to… Please use this service!
The Bottom Line – Protect Yourself
Knowing that there are “professional” romance scammers out there should immediately change the way you divulge personal information on the internet, especially when it comes to interacting with people who might have approached you first. These scammers have scripts designed to prey upon their victims, and with so many Yahoo Boys working the scams there is always someone nearby to help them when they need it.
In other words, there are teams of people working against you out there and if you’re not careful you could become a victim.
Never give money to strangers on the internet. If someone initiates a conversation with you online, be cautious with your responses and don’t give up personal information. If you truly believe that you’ve met a real person, then ask to meet or run a quick background check. If they refuse, you know there’s something suspicious going on. If they ask for money, that’s an instant red flag. The Yahoo Boys are only successful because their victims never question them. But if you stay vigilant, you can stop yourself from becoming a target.