IN SHORT: A Facebook page claims it is recruiting Kenyans to “the Illuminati brotherhood” in order to unlock their riches. But it’s just another scam, making use of a well-known type of fraud.
The Facebook page Illuminati Freemason Official Murangaa kenya promises to transform the lives of Kenyans through what it calls the “Illuminati brotherhood”.
“Success is by choice, JOIN ILLUMINATI BROTHERHOOD FOR FREE TODAY AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE,, JUST CALL OR WHATSAPP 0710426532 call us, do not hesitate to change your life 0710426532,” reads a 17 July 2023 post.
The Illuminati is a popular conspiracy theory, referred to by Vox news as “shadowy cabals that supposedly control the world”. The BBC has also discussed it at length, calling it “the conspiracy theory to dwarf all conspiracy theories”.
In Kenya, “the Illuminati” often refers to what is believed to be a network of rich devil worshippers, thought to be practising human sacrifice in return for wealth.
In what seems to be an effort to entice users, the page also posts images of alcohol and bundles of cash.
But are the offers and the Facebook page legit? We checked.
Visit M-Pesa shop as ‘show of loyalty’
To understand how the joining process works, Africa Check sent a message to the cell phone number provided in the ad.
We were called immediately by a different number “0202030084” and instructed to save it as “0722000000” in the “name” section of our contact list.
We were then asked to visit six M-Pesa shops in our area.
M-Pesa is a mobile financial service by Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telecoms company.
The caller explained that this is one of many “exams” we have to take to show that we’re serious about joining the organisation. This is a clear red flag, so we declined.
How the scam works
By having us save their number as “0722000000”, which is the official number for Safaricom, the caller intended to use our phone to commit fraud.
This is a common type of fraud in Kenya. Here’s how it works:
- When the scammer calls your phone, it appears as if the call is coming from one of Safaricom's customer care agents.
- The scammer then asks you to hand over the ringing phone to the shop attendant.
- The scammer dupes the M-Pesa shop attendant into performing a transaction.
- In some cases, the attendant will do this as they believe they are speaking to someone from Safaricom’s customer care division.
- If the scammer is successful, both the attendant and the customer may be defrauded.
By asking us to visit six different M-Pesa shops, the caller seemed to be trying to increase their chances of success. This is because the majority of M-Pesa shop attendants have been warned about this tactic.
We also noticed that we had debunked a separate Facebook page using the same cell phone numbers to defraud unsuspecting shop attendants.
This page is fake and its claim that it can make people rich shows that it’s a scam.
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