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Analysis: Of Scammers And Other Website Predators 

By Peterkins Manyong

On Tuesday December 8, the Buea Magistrate Court passed a landmark judgment. The court sentenced Kevin Tita Ndango, a 23-year old internet scammer to 8 years in prison and to pay FCFA 70 million to his victim Mrs. Ines Holcombe, a Swiss national. The culprit also had to pay court charges, in default of which he would serve an additional two years in jail.

The judgment passed by the Trial Magistrate, Charles Namme Menyoli, was intended to act as a deterrent to others in the diabolic business which has earned Cameroon the unenviable position of the Number One on the internet crime hotspot. Details of this report, reproduced by The Guardian Post Newspaper were first published by McAfee, an internet security firm which recently carried out a global study of 27 million websites. Cameroonian websites, it states, were discovered to be the most dangerous in the world for unwary web surfers.

The majority of the sites that McAfee tested in Cameroon’s domain space-site sending in the abbreviation "cm" were determined by the internet security’s database to be engaged in shady behaviour, among them, the infecting of visitors with password stealing or spam-sending software. Mcafee attributes this to the slim distinction between the .cm and .com. domain suffixes. "Fraudsters take advantage of spelling mistakes and typing errors to set up false sites that may look similar to those the surfer intended to visit," states the report.

The above account portrays the scammer’s mental sophistication which enables them become yahoo millionaires within an incredibly short period. Two students of a government high school in Bamenda recently joined the nouveau riche, purchasing for themselves not only deluxe cars, but thanks to scamming, their lifestyles changed dramatically. The common practice is to pretend to have certain rare commodities like puppies and parrots to sell. For instance, they scan pictures of German Shepherds and send them to anxious buyers, exploiting their ignorance of Cameroon’s environmental factors which make the survival of such dogs something akin to a miracle.

The activities of scammers have given rise to all kinds of fantastic stories about them. The raping,  killing and disgorging of a 20-year-old teacher’s eyes in Santa a few years back has been linked to instructions from the customers of the scammers that perpetuated the heinous crime. A boy at the Bamenda Regional Hospital reportedly died recently after screaming and pleading to an invisible attacker not to stab him. He was a well known scammer and some even attribute his death to such practices.

Another youthful scammer is said to have gone mad because his mother refused his request to have sex with him on the orders of a web customer. Yet another scammer is said to have been ordered to send to his web customer a bag filled with mosquitoes. The lucrative trade in human parts is also linked to the internet. A boy was recently caught with a human head and during interrogation, confessed that he intended to sell it for FCFA 5 million to a customer he contacted online.

The internet is purportedly a good medium through which people get initiated into secret societies as asserted by persons claiming to have ventured into the occult kingdom.
The internet is the great salesman of smut, but as obnoxious and detrimental pornography can be, it is far less dangerous than the transformation of the website into a battleground by unscrupulous people. Terrorists use it for communication and for carrying out financial transactions. Relatively harmless people are also often victims. A native of Boyo Division lamented to this analyst that his opponents were using the Afo-Akom website to make his life miserable.

His principal antagonist had lost in a case against him and turned to the internet as an alternative revenge medium. Dust is yet to settle on the case of a CRTV journalist whose adversary, a woman, used an "E" Group website to settle scores with him. The anecdotes narrated above only confirm how a very useful medium of communication can be misapplied. In fact, what a young man can see seated and surfing the web an old man cannot perceive standing on Mount Everest.

Meanwhile, numerous job and training opportunities are discovered thanks to the internet. There are many blessings brought by the internet, prospective life partners, opportunities to escape poverty and economic frustration of Cameroon because of poor management and embezzlement. The internet is like the proverbial Trouble. If you say there is no seat for it, Trouble will tell you "Don’t worry I came along with my own chair". In more familiar phrase, the internet is a necessary evil.

It makes people rich, but it also makes people miserable. Most young women who scramble after scammers see only the pleasure to be derived and not the consequences that would follow. Magistrates the world over should copy the example of the Buea Magistrate Court trial judge who put Ndango where scammers and other internet predators deserve to be.

Peace and happiness should be enjoyed only by people of good will. This being the last piece for the year, the analyst, therefore, wishes his good natured readers bountiful blessings during Christmas celebrations and the New Year.