Growth of Online Scams in Kenya

Growth of Online Scams in Kenya

Growth of Online Scams in Kenya

Growth of Online Scams in Kenya

Scam attempts have become an inescapable part of modern life in Kenya. The growth of online scams in Kenya is not a new thing these days. Hardly a day goes by without someone complaining about receiving unsolicited messages promising easy riches or windfall gains.

Many have fallen victim to these ploys, while others have narrowly avoided the traps laid by fraudsters impersonating legitimate entities like banks and telcos to phish for personal details. The prevalence of scams cuts across all segments of society.

Research 8020 Limited estimates that 10-15% of all phone calls received are from scammers attempting to defraud recipients.

Globally, the percentage of targeted individuals continues rising year over year, with a jarring 270% spike in phone scam victims recorded in 2020 alone. Kenyan con artists are keeping pace, constantly innovating new schemes to dupe the unsuspecting public.

Advance fee fraud stands out as one of the most pernicious scams, wherein perpetrators manipulate victims into paying upfront fees for promised goods, services, or financial windfalls that never materialize.

The scammers craft believable stories exploiting greed and fear, creating an air of urgency around disbursing taxes or facilitating fees. They disappear with the money once the payment is made, leaving their mark financially devastated.

Pyramid and multi-level marketing scams also run rampant online, dangling the illusion of income and entrepreneurial freedom.

These models rely on endless recruitment of new members, not legitimate product sales. Using social media, they entice business promises and then demand fees, inventory purchases, or payments for dubious training.

Investment scams represent another insidious threat, appearing credible through professional websites and testimonials.

From Ponzi schemes paying early investors with newer recruits’ funds until inevitable collapse to peddling unrealistic crypto, real estate, or commodity returns, these bad actors employ phrases like “proven” and “guaranteed.” Small initial investments create a false sense of exclusivity before the rug is inevitably pulled.

The cruelest cons maybe romance scams, where fraudsters assume fake identities to emotionally manipulate victims into thinking they’ve found love and trust online.

After accelerated intimacy through “love bombing,” they make seemingly plausible requests for financial assistance with emergencies or business opportunities. Ultimately, perpetrators never deliver the promised repayments, leaving the victims financially and emotionally shattered.

Economic hardship can sometimes lead individuals to resort to online fraud. For instance, a former inmate confessed to the methods they devised to steal from unsuspecting Kenyans.

In a TikTok video with Limitless Media, he detailed systematic deception to access victims’ money covertly.

The scammer initiates the scam by guiding the victim to dial a special code, preventing outside messages during the process. The con artist would then guide the victim to M-Pesa, prompting them to initiate a withdrawal transaction at an ATM. Crucially, the scammer would ask the victim to share a code.

After obtaining the code and the victim’s M-Pesa balance, the scammer would relay this information to an accomplice near the victim’s bank ATM. The accomplice would then successfully withdraw the funds from the victim’s account.

However, the scam did not end there. The con artist would fabricate a message resembling a legitimate service provider notification, displaying the exact amount supposedly won.

This deception aimed to allay any suspicions from the victim. After thoroughly deceiving the victim, the scammer bids farewell and moves on, leaving them financially compromised for the next target.

With such occurrences, Kenyan authorities have sounded the alarm on the scourge sweeping the nation. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations acknowledged investigating numerous incidents where “investors who fell for the scam are crying foul” after being lured by promises like “Make Money Sitting at Home,” only to lose substantial sums.

To avoid falling prey, citizens must exercise extreme vigilance by verifying investment opportunities through official channels like the Capital Markets Authority and Communications Authority.

Even proactive individuals can take additional safeguards by securing accounts and passwords, acting swiftly to freeze compromised cards or SIMs, and promptly reporting incidents to financial institutions and law enforcement to aid recovery efforts and protect future victims.

Combating these scams requires a multi-pronged approach of public education, regulatory oversight, and criminal enforcement.

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