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Over Sh100M lost in Amazon scam as probe reveals suspects' account balances

A Chinese suspect behind the Amazon Web Worker scam fled Kenya as another accomplice was arrested.

Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti

It has now emerged that Kenyans lost more than Sh100 million in the Amazon Webworker mobile app scam.

According to investigations by the DCI, a suspect who was arrested at JKIA on Sunday, May 30 was found to have Sh50 million in a mobile money account linked to her phone.

The scheme operated three accounts where deposits were sent via mobile money.

One of the top telecommunications firms in Kenya has also frozen Sh42 million linked to one of the accounts.

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Detectives also told Nation that two more suspects are at large one Chinese national believed to have fled the country and a Kenyan who is believed to have been the gang’s local agent.

Mobile App

Many Kenyans were duped to invest money in Amazon Web Worker, a mobile application that guaranteed a 38% return on their money.

This meant that investors who deposited Sh100,000 were promised Sh351,000 after 30 days for helping Amazon store owners increase their sales on the global ecommerce website.

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The App is not affiliated with the international retailer Amazon which lists all its affiliates on its website and the apps are created by Amazon Mobile LLC.

The fraudsters behind the scam were using the same brand name to trick innocent people into thinking they are legitimate.

Deleted from Google Play Store

After ignoring a series of red flags, investors were treated to a rude shock when they realised that the mobile app had been deleted from Google Play Store along with its website and social media pages.

"Amazon is a gone case, I'm in a group and all officials have left and blocked everything. We have been left with nothing," a user of the platform posted.

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Warning from Central Bank of Kenya on pyramid and ponzi schemes.

Pyramid Schemes

These are fraudulent schemes that promise high returns/profits to investors. However, this is pegged on the ability of the recruit to enroll more people to join the scheme.

The next level of recruits is also expected to recruit more investors, and it thus becomes a chain of recruitment.

However, the profits from these schemes are not based on a product but rather the money that recruits ‘invest’ in, which is then used to pay earlier investors.

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Some schemes may indicate that they have a product they are selling, but this is usually a front to entice consumers and hide the pyramid nature of the scheme.

Ponzi Schemes

These are investment schemes that promise high short-term rates of return or dividends to investors.

Investors pay money to a portfolio manager with the understanding that they will receive payment at a later date. The victims are usually under the mistaken belief that they are investing in a product or service.

Unlike a pyramid scheme, however, the investor in a Ponzi scheme is not expected to enroll new recruits in order to get paid.

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When an investor wants their money back or a dividend is due, they are paid using the money received from new investors.

The cycle continues until the organizer flees with the money, which normally happens when there are no new investors being brought on board to generate enough capital to facilitate the payment of dividends.

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