Kenyans are currently in shock following the brutal murder of Frank Obegi, Elijah Omeka, Fred Mokaya and Moses Amenya whose mutilated bodies were later found dumped in Kijabe forest and Magadi.

The four men

While the four had managed to convince the majority, including their parents, that they were legit businessmen using the internet to make money, reports now show they were actually cons who lived on the fast lane after every online scam.

The quartet had been accused of being behind a cryptocurrency fraud mostly targeting victims outside the country, with reports indicating that just before they disappeared, they had fleeced their latest victim of Ksh1 million in bitcoin.

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This brings us to our tackle today; how cryptocurrency and forex shenanigans in Kenya have mutated into illegal entities. Almost everyone in the 40s-and-below age bracket knows someone who has made a fortune from either.

And from this, youths are scrambling to make a killing in these two industries with the majority looking at doing it in the shortest period possible.

It’s one of the major reasons why scammers are having a field day in the sectors.

According to stats, scammers took home a record $14 billion in cryptocurrencies in 2021, thanks in a large part to the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, according to new data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.

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Stories of ‘crypto millionaires’ attracted some investors to try their hand at investing in cryptocurrencies or crypto-related investments this year, and with them, many stories of those who bet big and lost big began appearing, and they will continue to appear in 2022,” says US Enforcement Section Committee Co-Chair Joseph P. Borg, Alabama Securities Commission Director.

In Kenya, social media is awash with how “investors” went from nothing to millionaires in months after betting on cryptocurrencies and forex trading.

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Less than a month ago, thousands of Kenyans were left writhing in pain after the collapse of Bitstream Circle, a ponzi scheme designed by Kenyan and Chinese fraudsters, who ended up ripping off a total of $10,048,350M (Sh1.18 billion) in just 97 days.

The founders, who had started a Telegram group to teach Kenyans how to invest in Cryptocurrency, left a scathy message for them following the big scam.

“I still drive my Ferrari and some of you can’t afford to eat,” posted the Admin after scamming thousands in the group which had 10,000 followers.

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“You are a bunch of brainless races, see you on our next plan. Bye, haha. I am living a luxurious life with your dollars. If you have invited friends, wait to be killed by your recommenders. Idiots. There will be a time to meet.” 

Experts are predicting that this trend will only get worse and more Kenyans are expected to lose money.

“When criminals latch onto a new way of stealing people’s money, others follow,” Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention at AARP, which has its own crypto scam-related resources, said.

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“Combine this with the ‘legitimizing’ forces of pro-crypto ads and the move of 401(k) plan service providers to add this unregulated, highly speculative investment as an option plan for their participants, there’s no telling how many people will lose a lot of money — which they won’t likely get back.”

Crypto and forex trading -given how hard and almost impossible it is for governments to regulate and monitor them- have become the perfect avenues for cons to claim how they are making millions.

It’s one of the reasons why you should stop believing these 25-year-olds with a 7-bedroom mansion, 5 cars, 2 latest iPhones and 20 pairs of suits when they share their motivation talks on how they flattened all odds and became millionaires after investing in cryptocurrency.

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Reminds me of my neighbour who invested all his cash into the quail business that rocked Kenya several years ago with a promise that he’ll make a killing from their eggs.

The funny thing, from all that, before he knew he was duped, was that he didn’t know how many female versus male birds he had bought while getting into the business.