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Viral message advertising free ‘lockdown funds’ is scam

A website promising “Free Lockdown funds” has been widely shared on social media in Kenya.

One Facebook user shared a link to the website with the caption: “Hurry up before 25/5/2020 for FG Lockdown Funds are available now.”

The website, with the address, asks visitors to “Please complete the survey to avail free lockdown funds”.

But is this give-away genuine? We checked.

Wrong coat of arms and other red flags

One sign that this website is not to be trusted is the coat of arms which appears in links to it. 

While the website address includes the name of Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, promises Kenyan shillings, and appears to be aimed at Kenyans, the coat of arms is that of the Nigerian government.

The Nigerian coat of arms shows two white horses supporting a black shield, on which stands a red eagle. 

Kenya’s coat of arms shows two lions holding spears and a traditional East African shield, and appears on all official Kenya government websites

Kenya’s president Kenyatta has founded a philanthropic trust, but it is called the Kenyatta Trust, not the “Uhuru Kenyatta Foundations”.

Dodgy process

Africa Check answered the “survey” on the website and followed the process through to the end. 

We noted that it lists “1,936 free lockdown packages” as remaining, but this number stays constant, and does not change as it would if Kenyans were claiming the “packages”.

After clicking through questions that ask if you are a Kenyan citizen, how much money would “sustain you through out the lockdown”, with options of “KSh5,000”, “KSh10,000” and “KSh20,000(not available)”, and whether you’ll spend the money on internet, food or clothing, you arrive at the catch. 

At the end of the questions, you are asked to share the scheme with seven WhatsApp groups, and “only groups”.  The text says: “How to get your KSh10,000 credited to your account. 1. Before you continue, click the green button ‘SHARE’ and send this to 7 Whatsapp Groups (Only Groups). 2. After the sharing, you will be asked for account number and bank name to receive the KSh10,000 cash.”

It appears to be a phishing scam where unsuspecting people are tricked into sharing their personal information, such as bank details.

Government efforts reported by media

A legitimate government scheme would not ask vulnerable people to share information online, particularly as many Kenyans do not have access to electricity and do not own smartphones.

Local media organisations have been reporting on government efforts to feed vulnerable populations, but have made no mention of “lockdown funds”.

Similar hoaxes have circulated in Nigeria and India, and Africa Check has debunked other claims with similar links to malware that can trigger the mining of personal information.

Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations has also warned the public against scams like this. – Dancan Bwire


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