The bifurcation of the Nigerian cybercriminals: Narratives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) agents

Suleman Lazarus, Geoffrey Okolorie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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. [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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-26
JournalTelematics and Informatics
Early online date24 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Nigerian cyber-fraudsters
  • Bifurcation of Yahoo Boys
  • masculinity and crime
  • symbolic interaction
  • gender identity
  • cybercrime
  • cyber criminology
  • Spiritual dimension of cybercrime
  • Cybercrime and cultural relativism
  • Yahoo Boys
  • Romance scam
  • 419 fraud


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