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Kenyans lose millions in latest Ponzi scam

Kenyans have yet again reportedly made losses amounting to millions of shillings by falling prey to an online ponzi-like scheme disguised as an e-commerce and referral app namely Amazon Web Worker Africa.

In the past few days, the app was deleted from Google Play store without official communication to its users.

By then, thousands of Kenyans had reportedly opened accounts with the app and started referring friends and family members to join in.

Kenyans were reportedly lured into investing in Amazon Web Worker after it falsely claimed to be an affiliate of Amazon Inc. and was accessible via a mobile and web application.

Users were paid for referring other users to the platform, a hallmark of similar pyramid schemes which have scammed Kenyans in recent years.

Some of the investors had deposited up to Sh300,000 even as some of those that had been scammed took to social media and revealed the amount they had invested.

The amount of investment varied with the subscription packages on offer. People who signed up could earn by completing tasks as well as referring others to the platform.

“One person had invested Sh10,000 while another put in Sh50,000 and others depositing up to Sh300,000 in the app,” one report said.

People were lured into joining the app based on returns of up to 38 per cent within seven days.

Although the scheme carried the name Amazon, it is not in any way related to the Jeff Bezos Amazon firm.

Strikingly, apart from the app going down, the website that hosted the platform is no longer online. Neither is the Facebook or the Twitter page.

The service started gaining traction in March 2021 in Kenya.

Several people soon signed up, encouraged by their friends to do so for the easy money.

Some went as far as to take loans for what seemed to them like a sure-fire investment.

“Amazon Web Worker is a gone case, I’m in a group and all officials have left and blocked everything. We have been left with nothing,” one investor said.

“My Sh21,000 is gone. I joined after taking a loan and subscribed to level 5. I have lost all my money and I do not know where to begin,” another victim added.

Another one said that they put in Sh50,000 and had registered all the family members including the parents. They are now on my neck on where their money went,” he lamented.

The Kenyan Central Bank has previously issued warnings about the prevalence of online pyramid and ponzi scams that encourage you to invest to receive a big return with no risk.

The bank has warned Kenyans to be on the lookout for scammers who are out to lure unsuspecting Kenyans.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and mobile money provider Safaricom were flooded with requests on their customer care channels seeking assistance over the matter.

Another app, cash24h, did the same thing with Kenyans’ money just a week earlier.

Many pyramid schemes have as their backbone referral systems that ensure new people are constantly being lured in before it all comes tumbling down.