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This research work was conceived to find out the pattern of social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria, identify the types of social media fraud common in the study area, explore the social attributes of those involved in social media fraud in the study area, identify the motivating factor and causes of social media fraud, find out the consequences of the emerging trends and finally suggest solutions to mitigate against the menace. The study adopted the differential association theory which was developed by Edwin Sutherland to explain the reason for individual’s involvement in social media fraud and how they learnt the techniques to perpetrate the act through interaction with others. The study was conducted in three selected tertiary institutions in Zaria namely; Ahmadu Bello University, Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic and Federal College of Education. Data was obtained through quantitative method (questionnaires) and qualitative method (In-depth interview). The research also used both probability and non probability sampling method in the selection of respondents. Four hundred questionnaires were administered to students of the three selected tertiary institutions using the simple random sampling method. Data collected through quantitative instrument was subjected to simple statistical analysis and interpretation and analyzed with the aid of a computer using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 17.0). Despite the negative consequences of social media fraud on the study area, it was discovered that it had positive effect for the perpetrators as they were able to use the money realized to solve their need. On the basis of these findings, it was recommended that the Federal Government should empower the youths in terms of job creation and regularly engage the IT industries to develop strategies to curtail social media fraud. The study also recommends that everybody should report to law enforcement agencies any one suspected to be involved in social media fraud.
1.1 Background of the Study
The invention of electronic devices such as modern communication hard-wares, internet service and computer systems has been a major landmark in human history. Ayantokun (2006), defined computer as a machine that performs tasks, such as calculation or electronic communication, under the control of a set of instructions called a program. Programs usually reside within the computer and are retrieved and processed by the computer’s electronics. The program results are stored or routed to output devices, such as video display monitors or printers. Oyewole and Obeta (2002), define a computer as an electronic device that accepts, processes, stores and outputs data at high speed according to programmed instructions. Computers perform a wide variety of activities reliably, accurately and quickly depending on the purpose it was designed for. Computer can be used in areas of education, medicine, engineering design, scientific research, office automation, personal administration etc (Morley and Parker, 2007).
According to Rogers (1995), the rapid evolution of the computer brought the internet. The internet services have reduced the world into a global village which makes it look as if everybody is in the same place at a particular point in time. Aside the fact that the internet has made communication to be easier and faster, a lot of other transactions are consummated at the speed of lightening. Oyewole and Obeta (2002), state that the internet is the inter connection of computer across the world thereby creating unlimited opportunities for mankind. Ehimen and Bola (2009), state that cyberspace has provided a save haven for internet platform, which has created geometric growth and accelerated windows of opportunities for businesses and the removal of economic barriers hitherto faced by nations of the world. People from diverse areas of human endeavor can now freely access and utilize the advantages offered by internet platform. In addition, Young Media Association (2007), listed the following as the positive gain the internet has brought to the world:
Facilitation of job search and employment.
Accessibility to research information for education and businesses.
Enhancement of trade and commerce.
Sharing of resources and ideas.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The contribution of internet to the development of the nation has been marred by the evolution of a new wave of crime. The internet has also become an environment where the most lucrative and safest crimes thrive. There are indications that social media fraud is rising. For example, a 2005 YouGov poll of UK Internet users found that 1 in 20 had lost money in online scams. Also a 2001 survey revealed that 52 per cent of companies interviewed said internet fraud posed real problems for them (Wall, 2007). These are clear indications that social media fraud is on the increase and as such, it is beginning to gain recognition at the global level and there is dearth of study in the area of this burgeoning criminal act in Nigeria.
Technology has integrated nations and the world has become a global village. The economy of most nations in the world is accessible through the aid of electronic via the internet. Since the electronic market is opened to everybody (which includes eavesdroppers and criminals), false pretence find a fertile ground in this situation. Vladimir (2005), said the internet is a global network which unites millions of computer located in different countries and open broad opportunities to obtain and exchange information but it is now being used for criminal purposes due to economic factors. Nigeria, a third world country is faced with so many economic challenges such as unemployment amongst others, which are capable of making this crime thrive. Apart from the economy factor been a possible cause of social media fraud in Nigeria, there might be other causes for the continued rise in social media fraud activity.
In Nigeria, perpetrators of this crime who are commonly referred to as “yahoo yahoo boys” take advantage of e-commerce system available on the internet to defraud victims who are mostly foreigners thousands and sometimes millions of dollars. They fraudulently represent themselves as having particular goods to sell or that they are involved in a loan scheme project. They may even pose to have financial institution where money can be loaned out to prospective investors. In this regard, persons and organization are duped or have fallen victims. However, these are not the only techniques used by these social media fraudsters, there could be others which the research intends to unravel.
Attempt to address social media fraud by various governments and international organizations have not been successful owing to the fact that the identities of the perpetrators of social media fraud remain ambiguous and inadequate. A study by Zero Tolerance (2006), indicates that social media fraudsters are usually within the age bracket of 18 to 30 years and they indulge in the crime in order to survive and have a taste of good life. Noting these observations, there is need to identify more attributes/characteristics these social media fraudsters possess and what are other causes since it have been acknowledged that a good taste of life is a major factor.
Consequently, many countries have intensified efforts in curbing the excesses of social media fraudsters. Nevertheless, efforts have been made by the Federal Government of Nigeria to curb the menace of the crime too. For instance, according to Awe (2009), the government of President Olusegun Obansanjo in 2003 set up a working group known as the Nigeria Social media fraud Working Group (NCWG) to address this phenomenon since the loss suffered by both consumers and investors creates serious credibility and image problem to the country. Similarly, according to Abdulhamidet al, (2011), in Nigeria, a bill title “Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure bill” is presently been prepared to deal specifically with the menace of social media fraud. The Economic and Other Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) have also played vital roles in curbing this menace. To support their efforts, Microsoft and other internet related organizations like PARADIGM Initiative Nigeria, Background Check International (BCI) and the Internet safety,
Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (ISSPIN) have also assisted to curb the maladies (Awe, 2009). In spite of all these efforts, social media fraud in Nigeria is still on the increase. The situation raises a question on the type of social media fraud that is on the increase and remedy to solve the menace. Consequently, base on the above statements the research work was designed to provide answers to the research questions raised and also to suggest solutions to the problem.
1.3 Research Questions
1. What is the pattern of social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria?
2. What are the social attributes of those involved in social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria?
3. What are the factors responsible for social media fraud in the study area?
4. What are the types of social media fraud common among social media fraudsters in tertiary institutions in Zaria?
5. What are the consequences of social media fraud in the study area?
6. How can social media fraud be curtailed?
1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are as follows:
1. To find out the pattern of social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria.
2. To explore the social attributes of those involved in social media fraud in tertiary institutions in Zaria.
3. To identify the causes of social media fraud in the study area.
4. To identify the types of social media fraud that is common in the study area.
5. To examine the consequences of social media fraud in the study area.
6. To suggest appropriate solutions to the problem.
1.5 Significance of the Study
With the ever increasing pace of development, social media fraud has become an inevitable and a more specialized area of crime which threatens the economy and even the peace and security of the nation. The publicity surrounding Nigeria social media fraud is raising fears that the country may face a slowdown in international investment in telecommunication as well as the financial sectors (Thomas, 2011). As more Nigerians use the internet for their banking needs, the number of fraudsters eyeing people’s bank accounts and online financial transactions has also multiplied. Hence, this study has provided useful information on the factors responsible for the increase rate of social media fraud in the society.
Unlike the advance societies, developing societies have almost little or no modalities put in place to curb the excesses of social media fraudsters. In order to out smart the social media fraud fighting agencies, these social media fraudsters have connections with one another thereby learning more sophisticated methods/skills day in day out to commit this havoc. As such, the exposure of the techniques been used by these social media fraudsters will contribute positively to the efforts being made by these agencies.
Moreover, since youths within the age bracket of 18-30 years (Zero Tolerance, 2006), have been identified to be most vulnerable to this crime and have also been identified to be either in tertiary institutions or about to be admitted into one or graduates. The research work was able to identify other attributes/characteristics of social media fraudsters. In addition, since social media fraud is denting the country image among the committee of nations and the present administration has vowed to place Nigeria among the top twenty largest economies in the world by 2020. This research will contribute positively to the efforts being made by concerned government and private agencies to develop strategies to combat the menace.
Above all, taking into account that social media fraud and the underlying criminology behind cyber criminals are very new and there is a relative shortage of available research and literature on the subject. This therefore, makes this study very important because the study has added to the existing literature by revealing a number of different bases on what typically makes and motivates social media frauds and also identify the consequences it has in the society.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study revolves around issues on the pattern and consequences of social media fraud. It was conducted in Zaria, Kaduna State and limited to students of 3 selected tertiary institutions namely; Ahmadu Bello University, Federal College of Education and Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic. In addition, other respondents that participated in the study were operators of cyber café, lecturers from Computer Science Department of the selected tertiary institution and individuals who indulge in social media fraud. The study was conducted from August 2011 to May 2013.
1.7 Definition of Key Terms
Computer: Computer is described as an electronic machine that works under the control of store information (programs). It accept data (input), store data in the memory and process the data to produce the required result in a specified format as information (output).
Internet: Internet means international communication network. It is a communication network among computers. It is an interconnection of computers across globe.
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