Sunday, February 7, 2010

‘Maga No Need Pay’: Nigeria Gets Creative to Fight Cyber Scams

By Tim Cranton
Associate General Counsel, Microsoft

This week, a new pop song hits the airwaves in West Africa with a highly unusual message: Don’t be seduced by cybercrime.

Cybercrime is a global issue, but perhaps no form of cybercrime has been more associated with a region than the advance fee fraud collectively known as “Nigeria” or “419” scams (419 is the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud). Through schemes such as fake lotteries, bogus inheritances, romantic relationships, investment opportunities or – infamously – requests for assistance from “officials,” scammers promise an elusive fortune in exchange for advance payments.

West Africa is by no means the only source of these scams, but the region is stepping up to address their impact in a variety of creative ways.

419 scams have taken root in Nigeria’s popular culture. Scammers enjoy a rebellious, “cool” mystique, even producing songs and music videos that celebrate their own audacity. At the same time, 419 scam victims around the world are often stigmatized as na├»ve or gullible, which discourages many from coming forward.

This week in Abuja, Nigeria, members of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit and Microsoft Nigeria are meeting with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission of Nigeria (EFCC) and other international stakeholders to plan programs to combat Internet fraud in West Africa.

One particularly innovative effort is a campaign to redirect the energies of young Nigerians drawn into cybercrime, which is known locally as “yahoo-yahoo.” On the campaign’s front lines are 24 ambassadors for the Microsoft Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (MISSPIN). These young Nigerians work with local communities throughout the country to help establish productive online alternatives to Internet fraud and educate the youth of Nigeria on avoiding the trap of cybercrime.

MISSPIN Ambassador Ohimai Godwin Amaize is working to shift cultural perceptions of scammers and their victims through the B.L.I.N.G. project, which unites some of Nigeria’s most influential musicians around the problem of cybercrime. Their song, “Maga No Need Pay,” challenges young Nigerians to resist the temptation of “yahoo-yahoo” and avoid creating more maga, or victims. The song, an Afro Hip-Hop and R&B fusion, is intended to help inspire both national and international audiences.

I’m also proud to announce that on September 7-10, the EFCC will convene the 1st West-African Cybercrime Summit in Abuja. Coordinated by the EFCC, Microsoft, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Mass Marketing Fraud Working Group (IMMFWG), this conference will bring together an international group of political leaders, decision makers, criminal justice authorities, industry representatives and other stakeholders from Africa and around the world to help:

  • Raise political awareness and commitment to combat cybercrime
  • Build capacity for scalable and sustainable solutions
  • Develop multi-lateral cooperation

These are by no means the first steps taken to fight advance fee fraud. In 2008 Microsoft joined with Yahoo!, Western Union and the African Development Bank to establish the Advance Fee Fraud Coalition. Last fall, Microsoft, Western Union, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Trade Commission launched a public safety ad campaign in Bing to help warn consumers about financial fraud.

Cybercrime knows no national boundaries. To fight it effectively we must embrace a variety of approaches – technological, legal, and cultural. Motivating individuals to reject cybercrime and pursue legitimate ventures begins with campaigns like MISSPIN and the B.L.I.N.G. project. With awareness, education and partnership, we can help make the Internet safer for the whole world.

I encourage you to check out “Maga No Need Pay” at For more information about advance fee fraud in general, please visit

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


This song was recorded for the B.L.I.N.G. project which was initiated by Ohimai Godwin Amaize as an ambassador of the Microsoft Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (MISSPIN) a joint campaign by Microsoft and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) which seeks to re-direct the energies of young Nigerians from cyber crime to positive online engagements.

The B.L.I.N.G. musical collaboration project which enjoys the sponsorship of Microsoft has the benefit of having Cobhams Asuquo as producer, and an impressive line-up of artistes who volunteered to support the B.L.I.N.G. project: Banky W, MI, Modele, Omawumi, Rooftop MCs, Bez and Wordsmith. Also, several Nigerian celebrities like Fela Durotoye, Dele Momodu, Denrele Edun, Ofunneka Molokwu, Iyanya etc turned up at the video shoot which held last week in Lagos.

The song as well as its video has been scheduled for release this February. Below are the lyrics of the song:

Echo: Eh!...Eh!...Eh!...Eh-Eh!...
Maga no need pay!
For me to buy correct motor,
For me to take make my dough,
Maga no need pay!
Eh! Eh!
Maga no need pay!

Verse 1: Omawumi
Reminiscing as I walk to my car,
Thinking about how it used to be,
For Ekpoma, I dey ride okada and most times I dey soak garri,
I wanted to change the way I lived
But I didn’t have to do those things.
Now I’m rolling VIP
And all the girls wanna be like me, yeah...

Verse 2: Modele
You ask me how I deal with my reality,
Gotta tell you truly it ain’t easy, no!
I feel the pressure to find something wrong to do
Then I remember you reap what you sow!
Now I’m sitting staring at the screen of my computer,
I’m thinking really hard about what truly matters,
What with all these data, just to catch a maga,
It could have been my father, or someone else’s brother

Chorus: Banky W, Cobhams Asuquo & Omawumi
Maga no need pay!
For me to buy correct motor,
For me to take make my dough
Maga no need pay!
No need for me to go cafe
I hustle hard to make my pay
Maga no need pay
No need to do Yahoo-Yahoo (to do Yahoo-Yahoo)
Maga no need pay!
Eh! Eh!
Maga no need pay!
Eh! Eh!...Eh! Eh!

Verse 3: Banky W
Seven in the morning, it’s a brand new day
Eyes still swelling, still at the cafe
Hustling real hard from Sunday to Sunday
Hoping someday that maga will pay
But maga no need pay
For me to live correct
They call me Mr. Capable, I gat my self-respect
No need to do Yahoo-Yahoo for me to cash a cheque
I don’t need no maga, just work harder now

Verse 4: Bez
Tell me what a boy like me should do
Thought I heard the guys that rule do Yahoo-Yahoo
And if I do not do it I’m uncool
I’ll be a fool to the girls in school
But maga no need pay to get a good degree,
Or have a great opportunity
Don’t have to hack and attack,
Make use of CD cracks
We’re keepin’ it original, now you know my swag

Repeat Chorus

Verse 5: Rooftop MCs (Soulsnatcha & Sokleva)
Twale officer!
What’s the problem sir?
Or there’s a law against cruising in a Range sir?
I don’t know what you think we are,
Cos we roll in fancy car?
We’re making the sweet money,
I call it the candy bar.
All those wey maga pay,
Where dem dey today?
I’m straight no deceit,
My money get receipt!
I don’t mess with cybercrimes,
But I make the cypher rhyme.
I get paid for my time,
Don’t need to scam a dime!

Verse 6: Wordsmith
I’m your role model’s role model,
There’s no second guessing whom...
Wordsmith was made to make you change like a dressing room.
I’m living proof that there’s dignity in labour,
My bars is life imprisonment and this is hard labour.

Verse 7: MI
My father said I was a star before I ever spit a bar,
He said when you travel far,
Don’t forget who you are.
Represent Nigeria,
Represent for Africa.
Even when the things were hard,
I place my future in my God, (Yes, yeah)
See my nation’s reputation suffers much condemnation,
This’ our situation.
Are we cybercrime criminals? No!
We are the mineral resources of our fatherland,
We must rise and take the stand.
Every day heroes are born,
All stereotypes are torn.
Things we did to cause us harm,
We off that and now we on,
Hard work, positivity,
Truth, reliability
Expose your ability,
Change our reality,
That’s word! (Yeah, yeah, yeah)

Repeat Chorus 2ice

Outro with chorus in the background: MI
Yeah, yeah...listen everybody,
Put your BLING up right now!
BLING in this case means we’re Brilliant, we’re Legitimate, we’re Inspired, we’re Nigerian and we’re Great!
It means that we do not have to do anything that we ought not to do to make money y’all!
We just gatto apply ourselves and work hard and be creative and innovative.
Be truly Nigerian.
We will get there, y’all!

Chorus till fade