Masterminds Of Pyramid Schemes That Defrauded Gullible Kenyans Billions

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Masterminds Of Pyramid Schemes That Defrauded Gullible Kenyans Billions
Photo/Courtesy

The alluring fantasy of going to bed a pauper and waking up a millionaire has led to thousands of Kenyans losing billions of shillings to pyramid schemes. A majority of these ponzi systems lure people into their trap by paying initial investors high returns and this makes them refer friends and relatives.

However, many people end up battling depression with dozens reported to have taken their lives after being milked dry of their hard-earned money. With the wheels of justice turning slowly, the masterminds of these con games have never been convicted as some even died with the cases still in court.

Prominent persons who somewhat enjoy immunity to the law are alleged to be behind these pyramid schemes. These are people who have the capacity to evade being brought into justice through various means including bribery and arm-twisting judicial processes.

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From DECI to Public Likes, this article will feature some of the pyramid schemes that led to agony among get-rich-quick investors in Kenya.

DECI 

The pyramid scheme was incepted around 2006 and operated for about 3 years before it collapsed. DECI had offices spread through out every corner of the country.  Kenyans were asked to deposit with them and within a short duration their money would have earned high interests.

Initially, investors were paid huge interests and this served as a bait to entice others to join. However, DECI would later sink with about Ksh 2 billion with over 90k investors plunging into financial turmoil. The architect of this well thought about system was George Donde. At one point, he was cornered by angry Kenyans who had lost their money and promptly paid back 20 million at gunpoint. Donde died in 2012.

Public Likes

Public Likes was a pyramid scheme that operated shortly before the 2017 general elections. It was basically a click fraud website which paid people to click on various advertisements and paid them depending on various categories.

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To guarantee higher returns, one had to upgrade to a premium and gold categories with Ksh 14k and 90k respectively. Never mind, this money would be back in only 3 months. As thousands of Kenyans were cashing in on this scheme, the website became even more popular than top news sites and attracted millions of traffic.

Trouble began when the fraudulent firm abruptly failed to pay Kenyans their ads  commission. Public Likes insisted they were after streamlining their operations but the entity later collapsed and their website became inaccessible. In only a few months, Public Likes had made billions by also defrauding advertisers. Its founders are still unknown.

Akiba Microfinance 

The entity was among the first Ponzi schemes to hit Kenya and was incepted around 2004 as soon as Kenya began realizing a boom in the economy. The firm was founded by former Imenti Central MP Gideon Mwiti and reportedly sunk with over 780 million shillings.

Gideon Mwiti was linked to several pyramid schemes. [Photo|Courtesy]

Akiba had offices in Nairobi’s Lonrho House, Kitengela and Ongata Rongai which took deposits from Kenyans. However, due to suspicions from the Central Bank of Kenya, the entity’s offices were raided by the police who took with them computers, logbooks, files and other documents.

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Gideon Mwiti was however cleared by Justice Alfred Mabeya who ruled that Akiba Microfinance was involved in hire purchase business and was not a ‘fake bank’ as alleged by the CBK and Attorney General.

This led to a protracted legal battle where Gideon Mwiti filed for multi-billion compensation and also wanted CBK ordered against interference with their operations. However, the regulator appealed and justices Philip Waki, William Ouko and Gatembu Kairu felt that Mabeya had offended legal principles.

The case was referred back to the High Court, with Mabeya excluded from hearing it. It was until this year (March 2022) that it was established Gideon Mwiti ran a fake bank by Justice Margaret Muigai of Machakos. However, this happened after Mwiti had already passed on in July 2021 after succumbing to diabetes.

Amazon Web Worker 

The platform was an app that fraudulently associated itself with e-commerce site Amazon. Kenyans were guaranteed up to 38% interest if they locked their savings for only one week.

Stacey Parker. [Photo|Courtesy]

Unsuspecting Kenyans deposited their money through paybill numbers as they waited to make a windfall. However, the site later crushed after Google deleted the app from the Play Store even as Safaricom ran down various paybill numbers.

As Kenyans counted loses, the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti swung into action and arrested an American citizen in connection with the fraud. 51 year old Stacey Marie Parker was arrested after detectives linked one of the paybill numbers with estimated Ksh 50 million to her.

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