IN SHORT: A Facebook page claiming to belong to Kenya’s deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and raising funds for drought victims is false.
The page has 14,000 followers, many of whom have interacted with posts on the page in a manner that showed they thought they were communicating with Kenya’s number two.
But does this Facebook page really belong to deputy president Gachagua?
We checked credible news sources in Kenya and established that Kenya’s deputy president did appeal for donations towards hunger relief in November 2022.
He shared the details of where Kenyans could send their donations to.
One of these was a paybill number, a service run by Kenya’s telecoms companies which allows for the collection of money from the public. This was not the same number as where this Facebook page instructed Kenyans to donate money.
This is a red flag that the page could be impersonating the deputy president and defrauding Kenyans.
There are also grammatical errors on most of the posts published on the page, which would be unlikely for the page of such a senior public figure. The page has also posted posts just saying “good morning” and expressing support for specific football teams, also unlikely for the deputy president.
The page history describes the account holder as a musician. It was created on 15 June 2022 and has changed names five times from “Proff George Luchiri Wajackoya” to “Hustler Nation Kenya”, “Reng-star”, “RENG”, “The rift valley king” and then to the current name, “H.E. Rigathi Gachagua Deputy President” on 6 September.
Young musician impostor arrested
These details, including the name “Reng”, led us to a December 2022 article in Kenya’s Daily Nation. It described how detectives had arrested a 22-year-old musician described as “being behind a fake Facebook account that was impersonating Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua”.
The young man said his motive was to gain followers by posing as the deputy president but then to change the page’s name to his stage name Reng Star, so that followers would access his music.
The article included the false paybill number published in one of the posts.
The man said he later panicked following negative reactions to his posts and after the page was flagged by fact-checkers. The page and many of its misleading posts are however still available at time of writing.
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