(Xinhua) -- Browsing
social media on Wednesday, Susan Andika, a
job-seeker living with her parents in Kenya’s
capital Nairobi, bumped into a post announcing loans
of up to 1,000 U.S. dollars for the youths.
The announcement was allegedly from a government
"We have launched loans of up to 1,000 dollars to
anyone above 18 years.
"Apply online and get the money straight into
your mobile money account," said the post on
An excited Andika followed the link supplied and
was asked to apply for the loan by filling an
application form and sending 2.5 dollars via mobile
money to a certain number.
"I actually sent the money because I believed the
post came from the government agency only to realize
later it was fake after I saw complaints about the
scam," she said.
The scam is the latest targeting mainly
government agencies and other institutions offering
essential services to defraud social media users in
the East African nation.
Besides the youth-financing organization, other
institutions on the crosshair of fraudsters include
a power utility firm, health insurer and the
transport sector regulator.
Legislators, donor agencies and humanitarian
organizations have also been targeted, with the
fraudsters seeking to maximize on the institutions’
social media presence to defraud citizens.
Most of the targeted institutions offer services
that Kenyans use every day or are in dire need of
making it easy for the fraudsters to prey on them.
"Buy electricity tokens at 15 percent discount,"
announced a scammer on social media the other day.
With many Kenyans grappling with high electricity
bills, a number fell for the scam by buying tokens
that they never received.
"I saw the post and tried buying token worth a
dollar out of curiosity but to date I have not
received them," said Martin Kilonzo, a chemist
attendant in Nairobi.
Millions of Kenyans use social media every day,
and nearly all institutions including government
agencies have turned to social media to serve and
communicate to the public, making fraudsters find
the sites namely Facebook and Twitter the best place
to target their victims.
Kenya has about 7 million social media users on
Facebook and Twitter, according to 2017 estimates by
The majority of the users are aged between 18 and
34 years with 64 percent of them being male and 36
These people increasingly now rely on social
media to get services from various institutions,
However, as the fraudsters devise for more
schemes, Kenyans and the institutions are fighting
back, similarly using social media to expose the
scammers and report them to authorities.
Buyer Beware, both on Facebook and Twitter, is
one of the pages and handles dedicated to fighting
"These people will ask you to send 2.7 dollars
and once you send, they block you," he wrote on
Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT
Solution, attributed the rise in social media fraud
to anonymity offered by the sites and the huge
audience, with the scammers capitalizing on social
media presence of institutions to defraud.
"A single post reaches millions of people and out
of them, the fraudsters know that they will manage
to convince a handful.
"They also know that these days, organizations
are communicating with the public via social media,
so any post with a believable handle convinces
many," he noted.
He added that the fact most Kenyans affected by
scams never step forward to report the cases other
than complaining on social media makes the scammers