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Fraud alert! Kenyans, ignore Facebook posts asking for donations to cover medical bills of relatives of ‘Maryann Njeri Kamuna’

IN SHORT: Ignore requests for donations to Maryann Njeri Kamuna via paybill number 800200 from account number 0797352331, which are accompanied by images of sick people. They are fraudulent.

For people hoping to raise money to treat life-threatening illnesses, social media platforms can be a very effective way to do so.

But scammers know this too, and set their traps. To deceive the kindhearted, they make up heartbreaking stories and use real photos of people with serious illnesses.

In Kenya, posts with photos of people – including children – suffering from different illnesses have been doing the rounds on Facebook. 

While they are genuine photos of sick people, the messages accompanying them are suspicious as they all ask for money to be sent to the same bank account number. It belongs to one Maryann Njeri Kamuna, who is said to be the mother of each patient.

One such post, published on a public group with over 56,400 members, shows a sick young man lying on a hospital bed said to be suffering from brain cancer. According to the post, that is 18-year-old William Gathagu Gacari, and users are urged to send financial help to paybill number 800200 with account number 0797352331. The account is said to belong to his mother, Kamuna.

In another post, also published on a public group with more than 167,100 members, there is a young man who is said to have been suffering from epilepsy for the past 18 years, but cannot afford treatment. The way to send financial help is the same paybill number, phone number and name. But in this case, Kamuna is the patient’s sister.

Another post shared a photo of a baby who is said to have a chronic eye infection and whose eyes are oozing pus. The post asked for support to raise KSh250,000 for treatment and check-ups at the Kenyatta National Hospital in the capital Nairobi. For donations, Kamuna's number is listed, along with the paybill number. In the post, she is identified as the child’s mother.

In other Facebook posts, Kamuna is the patient. The patients who are identified as Njeri are different from each other and suffer from different conditions.

Some of the posts say Njeri is from the central Kenyan county of Kiambu. Others say she is from Nakuru county

These posts get a lot of engagement, with most of the users wishing the sick person a speedy recovery. This may lead to some of these users sending financial aid to the person.


Old photos, different stories

A Google reverse image search of the photo of the baby with an eye infection revealed that this photo first appeared online in 2018.

According to a Nigerian blog, the baby was found abandoned on the side of the road in the Bako community in Gwagwalada, Abuja.

We also ran a reverse image search on the picture, which purports to show 18-year-old Gacari, who is suffering from brain cancer.

We found that the photo was of a 17-year-old Kenyan boy called Brian Mwangi who lost consciousness two days before his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams and was rushed to Kiambu District Hospital. However, his doctors carried out tests, which all came back negative.

According to the November 2018 article, Mwangi's mother is Elizabeth Wanjiru and not Kamuna as stated in the medical appeal.

Paybill 800200 belongs to VOOMA, an easy to use mobile wallet service from Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) that allows you to pay for goods and services, borrow and save money using your mobile phone.

According to VOOMA’s terms and conditions, “you shall immediately inform the Bank through the Customer Care Centre in the event that: you have reason to believe that unauthorised use of the App of the app has or may have occurred or could occur and a transaction may have been fraudulently input or compromised.”

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