IN SHORT: Pastor Ezekiel Odero of the New Life Church attracts thousands to his services. But he’s also popular with fraudsters, who use his name and photos on Facebook to scam people out of money.
Three Kenya-based Facebook accounts – “Pst Sarah”, “Pst Ezekiel Juma” and “Ev Ezekiel Odero” – have been posting similar messages on group pages. They offer prayers and encourage users to contact them by text message.
Milango mitatu imefunguka. Ni nyota gani unataka maishani yako? Nyota ya ndoa, Nyota ya uponyaji, Nyota ya maombi, Nyota ya watoto, Nyota ya kazi, Nyota ya BIASHARA, Ukombozi, financial breakthrough, Baraka, Kupata promotion. Kisha text me sai kwa 0794758107.
This translates as:
Three doors are open. Which star do you want in your life? The star of marriage, the star of healing, the star of prayer, the star of children, the star of a job opportunity, the star of a business, liberation, financial breakthrough, blessings or getting a promotion? Text me now on 0794758107.
In Odero’s sermons, the word “star” is his way of describing good luck.
But are the accounts legit? We checked.
Scam accounts created only to post on group pages
The channel lists the church’s phone numbers. The number 0794758107 – given in the Facebook accounts’ posts – is not among them.
The fact that all three accounts use the same phone number suggests that they are run by a single person or group of people.
We tried to send money to the phone number, which allowed us to get the name of the person the number is registered to. The person has no connection to Odero or his church.
The very little activity on the three accounts’ timelines suggest they were only created to post on Facebook group pages – not on their own pages.
Scam pages using Odero’s name exposed many times before
The church’s YouTube channel includes a link to the website newlifeprayercenterandchurch.org.
It is unlikely that Odero would run several Facebook accounts at the same time, with a contact number that is not registered in his name or the name of his church.
The three pages are just a scam.
To help protect yourself against online fraudsters, see Africa Check’s guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them.
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