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.
The accounts use the names and photos of Ezekiel Odero and his wife Sarah Odero.
Odero is a popular preacher who heads the New Life Prayer Centre and Church, based in Kenya’s southern coastal city of Mombasa.
A typical post by the three accounts reads, in Kiswahili:
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.
The accounts have posted their offers on many Facebook group pages. They appear here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
But are the accounts legit? We checked.
Scam accounts created only to post on group pages
We searched online for the New Life Prayer Centre and Church and found its YouTube channel, New Life TV KENYA.
It had more than 418,000 subscribers at the time of writing. All the preacher’s activities are posted on the channel.
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.
The website in turn links to the church’s official Facebook page, which has more than 235,000 followers.
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.
Africa Check has already exposed five other Facebook accounts impersonating Odero and his church for exactly the same purpose. See our previous reports here, here, here, here and here.
To help protect yourself against online fraudsters, see Africa Check’s guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them.
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?
Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.Publishers guide
Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.
Add new comment