IN SHORT: The more widespread a public figure’s reach, the more likely they are to be impersonated on social media. That’s the case with a Facebook page claiming to belong to pastor Ezekiel Odero, a popular Kenyan preacher. It’s not linked to Odero or his church.
The Facebook page "Evangelist Ezekiel" has been attracting many comments on its posts. It offers prayers to its followers and encourages them to engage privately on WhatsApp.
The page uses the name and photos of Ezekiel Odero, a popular Kenyan preacher from the New Life Prayer Centre and Church in Mavueni, Kilifi county, north of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean coast.
One of its posts, dated 15 January 2023, reads: “Don't joke with my prayers it works choose one thing here you let me pray for you now.”
It asks Facebook users to choose what they want prayers for, including “financial breakthrough”, jobs and “peace in marriage”.
It gives two phone numbers, and asks users to WhatsApp one of the numbers to be prayed for “live” on TV.
All the page’s posts have been widely reposted.
But is this Ezekiel Odero’s Facebook page and are the offers of prayers legit? We checked.
Suspicious Facebook page
While debunking a similar Facebook page in January 2023, Africa Check found that the official Facebook page for the church and the preacher has more than 220,000 followers and was created on 5 December 2020.
Facebook’s page transparency section shows this suspicious Facebook page was created on 15 January 2023 and had, at time of writing, only 146 followers.
While the official Facebook page includes links to its website newlifeprayercenterandchurch.org, the new Facebook page lists “newlife.com” as its website.
But this is the website of a “faith-based, broadcasting and counseling non-profit organization” with a mailing address in the US state of California, and no links to Kenya.
The official Facebook page has a number of official phone numbers listed, but the phone numbers given on the suspicious page are not among them.
We tried to send money to the phone numbers on the suspicious Facebook page, to get the names the numbers are registered to, and found two names that appear to have no connection to Odero or New Life church.
The page’s requests for private engagement on WhatsApp might be an attempt to scam people. To help protect yourself against online scams, see Africa Check’s guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them.
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