Fact Check: Did Peter Obi bluff when he said India reformed ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ boys to become tech engineers?

Omoleye Omoruyi
27 million Indians have been victims of identity theft (as of 2021), and 52% of are unaware of how to defend themselves…
Peter Obi and internet fraudsters
Fact Check: Did Peter Obi bluff when he said India reformed ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ boys to become Tech engineers?

You see all these big boys who you even call yahoo yahoo boys, that is how India started, they were doing yahoo yahoo until a leader came and turned them around. They turned the same thing they were using to defraud people into what become today that India dominates the ICT.” (sic)

Presidential aspirant, Peter Obi, who is a former governor of Anambra was in an interview on Arise TV‘s Morning Show, responding to questions on his presidential ambition.

At that point, we were completing an editorial on the possible rehabilitation of internet fraudsters who are building systems that may make internet fraud completely cultural. Peter Obi’s comment was inspiring.

But, we checked and found other information instead.

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Our findings

In 2020 during the heat of the pandemic, cybercriminals found a golden opportunity as online crime shot up to 37 per cent as compared to 2019 when the crime rate was 16%.

By implication, cybercrime doubled in 2020.

Peter Obi and internet fraudsters
Fact Check: Did Peter Obi bluff when he said India reformed ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ boys to become Tech engineers?

That year, over 50 thousand cyber crime incidents were registered. Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh accounted for the highest share during the measured time period. 


The report goes on to say that in 2017, consumers in India collectively lost over 18 billion U.S. dollars due to cybercrimes. However, these were estimates based only on reported numbers. The actual figure may differ. The report says:

“In a country like India, it is highly likely that the actual figures could be under-reported due to a lack of cybercrime awareness or the mechanisms to fully classify them. Recent government initiatives such as a dedicated online portal to report cybercrimes could very well be the main factor behind a sudden spike in online crimes from 2017 onwards.”

In terms of motive, news platform, The Hindu reports that the maximum of 60.2% of cybercrimes lodged in 2020 are fraud-related (30,142 out of 50,035 cases), based on a report by the NCRB, which functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs, India.

It was followed by sexual exploitation with 6.6% (3,293 cases) and extortion with 4.9% (2,440 cases), the data showed.

Among States, the maximum of 11,097 cybercrime cases was reported in Uttar Pradesh followed by Karnataka (10,741), Maharashtra (5,496), Telangana (5,024) and Assam (3,530), it showed.

According to a national crime records bureau NCRB data, a total of 27, 248 cases of cybercrime where registered in India in 2018.

Legal Service India

LTI shows the number of reported cybercrime cases in a table:

Peter Obi and internet fraudsters
Fact Check: Did Peter Obi bluff when he said India reformed ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ boys to become Tech engineers?

In a 2021 report by iPleaders, “27 million Indian adults have been victims of identity theft (as of 2021), and 52 per cent of people in the nation are unaware of how to defend themselves against cybercrime.”

The report notes, ‘on August 30, 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs launched the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal to offer people a centralised system for reporting all sorts of cybercrime occurrences online, with a special focus on cybercrimes against women and children.

“According to the statistics of the portal, 3,17,439 cybercrime events and 5,771 FIRs have been recorded in the country since its establishment up to February 28, 2021, with 21,562 cybercrime occurrences and 87 FIRs in Karnataka and 50,806 cybercrime incidents and 534 FIRs in Maharashtra.”

Cybercrime is a major concern in India

Peter Obi and Internet fraudsters
Fact Check: Did Peter Obi bluff when he said India reformed ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ boys to become Tech engineers?

We can see from the data that cybercrime is an issue of serious concern.


According to reports, in India, Technology, Media & Telecommunication (TMT) and Financial Services (FS) sectors are the most affected sectors by the cyber-crime. A study by the ASSOCHAM-NEC shows that there has been a 457% rise in cybercrime incidents under the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 from the year 2011 to 2016 in India.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat stressed the need for a national framework to thwart cyber attacks that have been on the rise in the country, The Hindu reported in 2021.

“Cybercrimes have gone up by almost 500% in India during the global pandemic. We need to consider the emerging threats from new technologies such as drones, ransomware, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and also the role of nation-states in such cyber attacks. The lockdown, which witnessed a deeper adoption of interconnected devices and a hybrid work environment, has increased our dependence on technology. This renders us digitally more vulnerable than ever before,”

Bipin Rawat said

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The reason Indians are taking up tech skills

As a matter of fact, it is about the Tech money.

Engineering students are seeing the degree as a path towards a government job as they regard it better in terms of security, starting pay and perks.

The Hindu

There is a reported large number of Indian developers because tech giants outsource to India, considering the available Human Resources to do the jobs. Companies can hire Indian developers for less than 10% of Americans’ rate. India has nearly three million tech college graduates and over 100 million English speaking citizens, so Indian developers are also skilled and apt.

Halfway across the world, software developers in India have a wildly different pay scale for the same tasks as their American counterparts. The average software developer salary in India is a mere ₹520,000, equivalent to less than $7,000 a year. This is nearly twice as much as the average Indian citizen earns, making the development industry lucrative and appealing.

Girl Tech Blog

Many Indians rode on the wave of the world wide web and rose to prominent positions in Silicon Valley. With this, they re-inspiring students and young Indians to take up digital skills which they think can provide them with a secure, and bright career.

What has India done instead?

No other nation in the world ‘trains’ so many citizens in such a gladiatorial manner as India does.

R Gopalakrishnan, former executive director of Tata Sons and co-author of The Made in India Manager. 

There are many Indians whose English proficiency is good, making it easier for them to integrate into the diverse US tech industry, and be given consultancy jobs.

Also, Indian education’s emphasis on math and science has created a thriving software industry, training graduates in the right skills, which are further buttressed in top engineering or management schools in the US. 

On the other hand, to counter Cybercrime, India has engaged itself in various bilateral agreements like cyber agreement with Russia and a framework agreement with the US. A visit of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi to Israel to sign the Indo-Israel cyber framework is yet another effort of India to streamline its cyberspace. 

Hear Peter Obi’s comments on this starting 23:16:

YouTube player

What Peter Obi meant to say

The former governor, Peter Obi is saying that internet fraudsters can be rehabilitated and become indispensable members of society. Similar to our story on rehabilitation, not imprisonment. But, it is not factual that an Indian leader rehabilitated cybercriminals.

Also, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi in 2019 called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to go beyond merely arresting cybercriminals by rehabilitating them.

He said:

“While I support your absolute clampdown on criminals in the private and public sectors, I will charge the commission to work on the rehabilitation of those found guilty, especially our youths caught committing cybercrime. Engage them to let them know that you are not their enemy. Carry them along through your sensitisation programmes so that they will see reasons to join you in your attempt to create a better Nigeria.”

“If you engage and utilise their potentials, you will spend less on fighting crimes”, he concludes. 

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