Kenya: Ignore Scam Facebook Page Impersonating Popular Kenyan Preacher

IN SHORT: Prayers for cash? Pastor Ezekiel Odera can fill stadiums, so it's unlikely that he'd beg for money on a clumsy Facebook page that misspells his name.

A Facebook page with the lengthy name "Pastor Ezikiel prayers offering MPESA number 0719302614" asks users to send an "offering" or "sacrifice" - money, in other words - in return for prayers.

The page uses the name and photos of Ezekiel Odero, a popular Kenyan preacher from the New Life Prayer Centre and Church.

One of its posts, dated 19 January 2023, reads: "In the mighty name of Jesus pokea uhai na ukombozi kwa biashara yako pamoja na familia yako kuanzia leo hizo mapepo zinazokusumbua kwa maisha yako zishindwe katika jina la yesu kristo."

The Kiswahili translates as: "Receive life and deliverance in your business and family. From today, the demons that keep disturbing your life will be defeated in Jesus name." It then asks users to call the number 0759666507.

Many of the posts tell Facebook users to send their "offering and sacrifice" via the M-Pesa till number 8168852. M-Pesa is a mobile money financial service widely used in Kenya.

But is the Facebook page legit? We checked.

Clues page is fake

There are several clues that indicate the page is run by imposters. First is that it misspells the pastor's name as "Ezikiel", instead of "Ezekiel".

And it's unlikely that a respected preacher would beg for money - via M-Pesa - in this way.

We searched online for "New Life Prayer Centre and Church" and found Odero's YouTube channel "New Life TV KENYA". It has over 400,000 subscribers. All his activities are published on the channel.

The channel lists its official phone numbers as +254 723596503, +254 703333363, +254 700873451 and +254 702666222. None of the mobile numbers used on the Facebook page - 0719302614 and 0759666507 - are on the list. In fact, the church's legit M-Pesa till number is 9134561, not 8168852.

We tried to send money to the phone numbers on the Facebook page to get the names they are registered to. The number 0719302614 is registered to a Jacob Fondo, and 0759666507 is registered to Michael Mwalii. The M-Pesa till number 8168852 produces the name Jacob Amani Fondo.

Legit Facebook page

The YouTube channel includes a link to the website

The website in turn links to the church's official Facebook page, which has more than 220,000 followers. The page transparency section shows it was created on 5 December 2020.

The fake page has only 31,000 followers and was created on 20 September 2022.

To help protect yourself against online scams, see Africa Check's guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them.

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