Tuesday, September 15, 2020 1:39 pm
By Nehru Odeh
His was a life lived in the fast lane. If he was not luxuriating in a Rolls Royce, he was in a private jet, perhaps on his way to an island in the Caribbean or relaxing with a copy of Forbes magazine in a five-star hotel. Yet in all of these places,he always sported designer clothes, wore the most expensive wristwatches and was in the company of celebrities.
A Gucci lover, he had a lot of Gucci shoes, clothes and bags which he flaunted on social media. He patronized Gucci so much so that to mark his 35th birthday in 2017, the popular Italian brand gifted him a birthday cake. What a way to make it happen, to live the good life?
This is the magical story of Ramon Abass, aka Hushpuppi, the postal boy of internet fraudsters, who before he was arrested in Dubai for crimes bordering on fraud, had been not just the role model of many Nigerian youths who salivate on his ostentatious lifestyle and dream of living his kind of fabulous life someday, but was also the prototype of fraudsters known in the local parlance as Yahoo boys, so named after their tool of operation – Yahoo mail.
Indeed, Yahoo boys, perhaps running away from the denigrating poverty into which they were born are united by a common penchant to make fabulous wealth fast, to literally turn their lives around and belong.
They also have many things in common, though may not boasts of the kind of wealth that Hushpuppi had, as there are different kinds of fraudsters.
Yet like a goldfish, they have no hiding place. They live not just large but a loud lifestyle. Once one comes across yahoo boys, one easily identifies them by the kind of lifestyle they live. Not only do they have a morbid desire to make fast wealth – no matter how- they live extravagant life, which they flaunt to the envy of their not so “blessed” neighbours, friends and relatives.
However, one intriguing thing about them is that their lives are as transient and mobile as the kind of job they do.
They live just by the day, work from home or inside their expensive fast cars and are always in possession of very expensive laptops and smartphones, mostly iPhones, which they work with round the clock since their clients cut across the globe.
They are no spendthrifts. They spend their ill-gotten wealth as fast as it comes, acquiring electronic gadgets and fast cars and cooling off with the most beautiful ladies. No wonder they easily go broke since they spend their money as easily as it comes, with the hope that they will “hammer” soon or another guy would fall “mugu”, to use their lingo.
In order to display their ill-gotten wealth and nouveau-riche status, they are unusually generous in public, sometimes paying for drinks everyone consumes in a watering hole or spraying hard currencies- especially dollars- in parties and any public gathering or social event. And hey always have aliases which match their ostentatious lifestyles.
Sequestered in a very expensive apartment devoid of interference or the prying eyes of neighbours, they always have a giant standby generator which they make use of, rather than depend on the unreliable power generated and distributed in Nigeria since they mostly live nocturnal lives. The loud music they play at home or in their cars is a metaphor for their loud lifestyle.
Still, their physical appearances give them out. Dressed always in very expensive designer wears, mostly jeans and T-shirts, they wear dreads, very expensive wristwatches, shoes and sneakers. And sometimes a glittering gold ring is attached to an ear. Even when they appear casual, they sport very expensive leather sandals and flip- flops.
However, a remarkable thing about these fraudsters is that they are no ghosts. They are not just products of society, they live among us. They are our brothers, sons, and relatives. Tricia Nwaubani, Nigerian award-winning writer and author of, I Do Not Come To You By Chance, a novel about internet fraud, speaks about the loud lifestyle of Yahoo Boys here:
“These fraudsters flash their lavish lifestyles in our faces. We attend their ostentatious weddings and parties. They are special guests at our events. Our community and humanitarian projects benefit from their largess,” she maintained.