Is this an Easy Way to Access the Kenya Government’s COVID-19 Relief Funds?

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The screenshot above shows the page of a site that has gone viral on social media platforms in Kenya. It promises Kenyans Kshs 1,000 from the government lockdown relief fund after they complete a survey.

Background

As of May 11th, Kenya has had 700 confirmed cases and 416 active cases of COVID-19 leading to 33 deaths and 251 recoveries. (see up to date information on our tracker).

The Kenyan government embarked on fighting the disease from the onset by implementing measures such as imposing a ban on international flights, providing daily press briefings through the Ministry of Health and imposing a 21-day curfew which was further extended for another 21 days as halting of all sports activities and gatherings among other measures.

Verification

According to the government spokesman, Colonel (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, the government had allocated Kshs 10 billion to cushion needy households in urban areas from the financial impact of the pandemic. He further said that they had tasked Assistant Chiefs to identify deserving cases in their sub-locations. The selected families are to receive a Kshs 2,500 cash transfer per month from the government.

As indicated above, the funds are not allocated on an application basis. The site asks one whether they are a Kenyan or not, the amount of money they need for their sustenance during the lockdown period and how they will use the money. The applicants are then directed to share the advert to 7 WhatsApp groups after which they are told to share their bank and account information.

The website is hosted on Blogspot, a Google-owned free blogging platform. All official Kenyan government websites have a .go.ke domain name.

The “call for application” was also not posted on any government website such as Kenya News which posts all government projects and announcements.

The whole application process has a high resemblance to a phishing scam whereby the sender mimics a trusted entity, in this case, the Kenyan government, gets personal information (bank details) and asks you to share so as to get a wider reach.

Additionally, this is not the first time that we are seeing this kind of scam materialize. Previously, known brands and corporate entities such as Marks & Spencer and Tesco supermarkets in the United Kingdom, fast food restaurant KFC in Malaysia and even supermarket chain Carrefour locally, have been targeted in such scams targeting unsuspecting customers and anyone else using WhatsApp.

The above is a repurposing of such scams to take advantage of the situation in the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s own failure to properly communicate how to access the COVID-19 relief funds, especially for Kenyans living in urban areas.

Verdict

The link being shared around is a fake one and not from the Kenyan government. It is also highly likely to lead to exposure of sensitive information to unauthorised parties. Previously, user data collected in such dubious circumstances has been used in spam campaigns in addition to being used to enrol unsuspecting users to premium-rate messaging services that cost them money. For your own safety, please refer to WhatsApp’s recommended safety measures.

The claim that you can get any funds from the government by filling in the survey and sharing the link is therefore FALSE.

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Piga Firimbi

Moffin Njoroge

Moffin is passionate about data and strives to find patterns, stories and leads by analyzing and interpreting datasets.