…Hushpuppi: An evidence that all that glitters is not gold
The Dubai Police of the United Arab Emirates arrested Hushpuppi, the Nigeria’s Malaysian-based “Yahoo Boy”, on June 10, 2020, and the video of his arrest went viral.
Hushpuppi is arguably Nigeria’s richest cyber fraudster, as he always flaunts his luxurious life by posting images on the Social Media displaying his expensive posh cars, designer fashion and accessories, lodging in extravagant hotels and clubs, as well as expensive drinks.
Hushpuppi’s real name is Ramoni Igbalode. He was born and bred in Lagos. Meanwhile, he is also known as Raymond Igbalodely. This 38-year old, also known as Aja Puppi or Aja 4 is just 80 million naira short of being a billionaire (in dollar terms).
However, Hushpuppi was traced by the name Raymond Abbas, which is likely to be his real name by the Dubai Police. The UAE’s online newspaper, The National reported that Hushpuppi and his gang of 12 accomplices were arrested for allegedly defrauding over 1.8 million people through the internet.
According to a senior prosecutor at the Dubai Public Prosecution, where they were interrogated before extradition to the United States, “they would send out letters from email addresses almost identical to those legitimate companies targeting customers of these companies with the purpose of diverting payments to themselves”.
He has now been charged and awaiting trial in the United States. Many expect that justice shall be served and serves as a lesson for all perpetuating fraud via the internet.
For all it’s worth, it is hoped that Nigerian youths desperate for a quick break could learn a thing or two from Hushpuppi and how he ended. If he teaches Nigerian youths anything, let it be that he was a posterboy for internet fraud and that all that glitters is not gold.
Beyond those, here are 5 things for Nigerian youths to learn from Hushpuppi’s predicament.
1. A PHILANTHROPIST CAN BE A FRAUDSTER
That a criminal decides to give back a portion of his/her loot doesn’t justify his criminality. That is the cases with Hushpuppi. He is regarded in several circles as a philanthropist and has about 2.4 million followers on Instagram.
This might look like an attractive profile to admire and emulate, but the shocking fact about him is that he is a cyber-fraudster. There is nothing really worthy of admiration and emulation of a criminal. This is the aspect that most Nigerian youths wouldn’t like to embrace because the truth is bitter.
Nigerian youths should know that being a philanthropist does not exonerate a person from being a criminal.
2. VERIFY SOURCE OF WEALTH BEFORE CELEBRATING
Hushpuppi claimed to be a real estate developer, but in reality, he makes money from swindling and duping people on the internet. According to reports, he allegedly swindled about 1,926,400 people and make a total of 168 billion naira.
Yet, many in Nigeria never bothered to ask for the real estate projects that made him so wealthy overnight. Instead many young people, including celebrities and other influential people, wined and dined with him, celebrating him without questioning how he came by such humongous wealth. The few who mustered the courage to ask the tough questions around his source of wealth were called bitter haters.
But his unravelling ordeal should serve as a lesson for us! Nigerian youths have a role to play in restoring our eroded values, especially by seeking to probe the questionable wealth of the so-called rich people before queuing behind them for unworthy praises.
3. INTERNET FRAUD HARMS NATIONAL IMAGE
Political corruption has already done its worst in damaging Nigeria’s reputation, but the new wave of internet fraud is the final nail on what is left of Nigeria’s image. And it is a shame that the Nigerian youths are spearheading this. The youths would still rule Nigeria, sooner or later, but they need to understand that the “Yahoo Yahoo” business and other cyber-crimes are not the way out of poverty for the youths in this country.
4. SUCCESS IS POSSIBLE VIA LEGITIMATE MEANS
Many youths, understandably, blame the government’s inability to provide employment opportunities as the excuse for engaging in cybercrimes, but the truth is that there are youths that have risen to the ladder of success and wealth through legitimate business under the same Naija environment and conditions.
While one can never justify the criminal irresponsibility of the government, it should never be an excuse for youths to engage in fraud, as it only complicates the situation. There are a million and one legitimately profitable ventures for the youth to make a living without venturing into fraud.
5. YOUTHS CAN PLAY MORE ACTIVE ROLE IN POLICING
While the Nigeria Police are still saddled with the critical role of fighting crime to redeem the image of this country, yet, the youth lend a hand by playing a more active role in policing by reporting appearances of crime and suspicious activities.
As a matter of fact, the youth should indicate interest in joining the force to help the police with all its profitable mechanisms to fight crimes in the cyberspace.
It must be noted that there are physical alertness and mental capacity in Nigerian youths that drive success without subscribing to crimes. The innate talents and acquired skills embedded in the younger generation of this country home and abroad should be harnessed to build personal prosperity and national wealth.
It is high time we desisted from all personal and national image-damaging activities that devalue and demean the existence of the country.
This can become a reality when we stop celebrating criminals, as most youths do to Hushpuppi and others whose sources of their wealth are questionable.
This country has all it takes to be great again. We can all rewrite history that will reckon with us as the real ‘Giant of Africa’ in all ramifications. This will happen when our youths abstain from cyber-crimes and all its engagements and channel their mental and emotional resources to productive activities that will thrust the country into legitimate wealth creation.