How to Protect Yourself from Online Fraudsters in Kenya

July 19th, 2023 by Felix Cheruiyot

online fraudsters in Kenya

The internet is full of fraudsters and scammers looking to steal your money and personal information. Discover the best cyber hygiene tips and protect yourself from online fraudsters in Kenya.

Do you know anyone who has lost money to online fraud?

There is a good chance you have someone in your circles or even a close relation that has been conned online. If you are active on social media, you will have seen countless online fraud cases trending.

From cryptocurrency and forex trading scams, pyramid schemes, and phishing emails, to copycat car-buying websites, thousands of people lose money to online fraudsters in Kenya.

This article will teach you what online fraud is and share tips on protecting yourself.

What is online fraud?

Online fraud is a crime that involves using the internet to deceive people and steal their money or personal information. It can take many forms, such as phishing scams, identity theft, and credit card fraud.

In Kenya, online fraud is a growing problem. In 2021, there were an estimated 100,000 cases of online fraud reported to the police. The losses from these crimes totalled over 1 billion shillings.

As internet usage expands, the incidence of cybercrime increases. The emergence of more technically advanced digital communication and data-scrapping technology will also mean that scammers and online fraudsters will get more sophisticated in their methods.

While online fraud and scams are commonly treated as the same thing, it’s important to note that they are slightly different. Fraud is where a person illegally obtains your personal information, like your identity and banking details, and uses it to steal from you or in your name.

On the other hand, a scam is where you are tricked into revealing personal information by a person acting under false pretence. So with a scam, the scammer needs you to play along for the theft to succeed, while with fraud, the criminal does not need your active participation.

The difference between fraud and a scam is an important one, as it determines whether your bank will refund the stolen money or not. You will generally not be compensated for losses resulting from a scam, as you will be deemed to have acted carelessly.

What are the signs you are being scammed?

When someone falls victim to fraud, it’s important not to shame them. But it’s essential for the victim to reflect on the events leading up to the unfortunate circumstance to avoid falling victim to fraud in the future.

Fraudsters have the same traits. They use the information they steal from you to defraud you. They will also steal this information through phishing emails, spyware, and email hacking. So you will protect yourself by guarding your confidential information more jealously.

Scammers, on the other hand, are sly and cunning. They will quickly look to gain your trust using social engineering tricks. After that, they will convince you to give up confidential information they will then use to steal from you. A common example of this is SIM swap fraud.

Among the signs that you are being lured into a scam are the following:

1. An offer that seems too good to be true.

Such offers usually promise significant financial reward that is too generous for the work you are being asked to do. If something sounds too good, it usually is.

2. When you are contacted out of the blue.

Before you respond to messages alerting you to some international competition you supposedly won that you never entered, ask yourself why they would choose you as the winner out of the millions of Kenyans there. Importantly, how did they get your phone number?

3. You are asked for personal details.

Never reveal your personal information to anyone online. Your bank or M-Pesa would never ask for your name, ID number, and the last couple of transactions you made on your account because they have that information already. They would also never ask for your PIN.

4. You’re asked to send money to someone you have never met.

If you look for jobs online, a scammer may ask you to buy a gift they claim is for software you will supposedly need for the job they are promising you. They can also tell you the money is for the visa processing fee so they can sort out your travel arrangements to the country you will be working in. Don’t fall for it.

5. Nigerian Prince scam

The Nigerian Prince is a widespread scam that online fraudsters use. It is where a person claiming to be from a rich Nigerian family will ask for your help in claiming their inheritance.

The help they will ask for is usually in the form of money to cover legal and other fees. They will promise to share the inheritance with you once it is released. They will keep asking for money, but the promised reward will never come.

6. Romance scam.

Romance scams happen when you start a love relationship with someone you met and only talk with online. Your love interest will use a fake profile to dupe you into believing you are in a real, caring relationship.

For those who pay attention, romance scams have common tell-tale signs. Among other signs, your online boyfriend or girlfriend will:

How to protect yourself from online fraud

You can do several things to protect yourself from online fraud in Kenya. Here are some tips:

1. Be careful about the information you share online.

Do not share your personal information, such as your M-Pesa number, bank account number, or email, with anyone you do not know and trust.

2. Be wary of phishing scams.

Phishing scams are emails or websites that trick you into giving away your personal information. If you receive an email or see a suspicious website, do not click on any links or download any attachments.

3. Use strong passwords and change them regularly.

A strong password is at least 12 characters long and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

4. Keep your software up to date.

Software updates often include security patches that can help protect you from online fraud. Most mobile devices automatically update their security software if you set them up to do that and make sure to go online regularly.

5. Be careful about what you click on.

Do not click on links in emails or websites unless you know they are legitimate. This also includes links shared on instant messaging apps like Whatsapp and Messenger.

6. Use a credit card with fraud protection.

A credit card with fraud protection can help you recover any money stolen from you due to online fraud. Otherwise, never share your banking details and personal information or leave your credit cards around.

7. Be aware of the latest scams.

New scams are being created all the time. Stay up-to-date on the latest scams so you can avoid becoming a victim.

If you think you have been a victim of online fraud, report it to the police immediately. You should also contact your bank or credit card company to report the scam. They can help you protect your account and recover any money that has been stolen.

Following these tips can help protect you from online fraud in Kenya.

Practice cyber hygiene to protect yourself from online fraudsters

Protecting yourself from online fraudsters is about adopting the right habits when working, shopping, or socialising online. You must use secure websites when shopping.

Secure websites use the HTTPS communication protocol that encrypts user data during transmission to prevent interception by spyware and hackers. Always verify that you are on the right website before entering your payment information.

Criminals often set up fake websites you will be redirected to without knowing. Popular car-buying websites like BeFoward are common targets for credit card fraud.

High-quality anti-virus software and strong passwords will safeguard your personal information and protect you from online fraud. Do not use the same passwords on different accounts, and change your passwords regularly.

Where it’s provided, always opt in for multi-factor authentication. And make sure all your apps and software are up-to-date. Importantly, when you sell your mobile phone or computer, always wipe its hard drive and remove secondary storage devices to clear all your data.

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