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FBI Goes After GIF, CROWD 1 Among Other Kenyan Scammers

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The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has placed Kenyan scammers such as CROWD1, Global Internet Fortunes (GIF), AIM Global among others on its radar while warning of a surge in cyber crimes across the East African country.

A new Interpol report released on August 14 on online organised crime in Africa which shows how digitisation is making it easier for criminals, and Interpol ranks Kenya among the countries where transnational criminal organisations operate.

The report estimates that Kenyans lost Ksh21 billion to cybercrimes and online scammers in 2017.

A hacker working undercover on a computer. Source: Forbes

The FBI declared Kenya as a hub for operations of scams that have cost Kenyans their entire savings and movement of money garnered through cyber fraud.

The report further reveaed that cyber crime losses in Kenya reportedly amounted to an estimated $295 million in 2018, with Business Email Compromise (BEC) being one of the main ways used to defraud local businesses.

CROWD 1, Global Internet Fortunes, AIM Global among other pyramid schemes have recently emerged as the top suspects in swindling Kenyans off their hard-earned savings.

They became the subject of uproar on social media on August 4 for driving Kenyans to committing suicide.

In 2019, over 250 Kenyans were arrested by the FBI for allegedly being part of cyber gangs.

An example shared by the DCI as a work of scammers luring Kenyans before stealing their data. Source: Kenyans.co.ke

The gangs operated through wired transfers and gained access to individuals’ personal information. 

The report comes at a time the country is cracking the whip on fraudsters, both online and offline.

Data by the Communications Authority for the period between January and March shows 34,644,531 cyber threats were detected, a slight decline from the previous quarter, in which 37,133,200 cyber threats had been detected. 

A report by pan-African-based cyber-security and business consulting firm Serianu indicated that Kenya lacked the technical manpower to provide cyber security.

Before the passing of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act in 2018, Kenya already had laws that addressed cybercrime offences, such as the Information and Communications Act and the Penal Code.

In Kenya, any phishing offence such as BEC is punishable by a fine not exceeding Sh3 million and/or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

In recent months, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations has been constantly warning members of the public to be extra careful when dealing with individuals who run online businesses.

In a series of tweets, the DCI noted that there was a new crop of fraudsters selling non-existent products by circulating phishing emails.

According to the DCI, the scammers use captivating words then ask potential customers to click on a provided link, after which personal information is harvested.

“The internet is full of websites that are either fake, fraudulent or a scam. If you’re not careful while using the internet you can end up getting scammed out of your money, or worse, your identity,” the statement read in part.

They had also made several arrests of imposters and phone scammers in between July and August 2020. On Saturday, August 15, DCI arrested a suspect in a syndicate running a scam operation through various mediums including WhatsApp.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, August 13, narrowed down on Kamiti Prison phone scammers. Speaking at the 44th Prisons Pass-out Parade at Prisons Staff Training College, Ruiru, the head of state noted that the correctional facilities had acquired equipment to nab the perpetrators.

He highlighted that a number of prisons in the country had enhanced surveillance systems on the inmates with signal jammers and CCTV cameras to monitor their activities.

President Uhuru Kenyatta presents awards to the best trainees during a past pass-out parade at Ruiru Prison Staff Training College. Source: PSCU

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