Make Money Sitting At Home: DCI Exposes SMS Scam Linked To Cryptocurrency

Scores are being lured to join online cryptocurrency investment platforms and end up losing their investments to fraudsters.

Make Money Sitting At Home: DCI Exposes SMS Scam Linked To Cryptocurrency
A person using their phone. /BBC

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has urged Kenyans to exercise caution while dealing with cryptocurrency and invitations through Short Message Service (SMS) texts inviting them to join the trading platforms.

In a statement on Wednesday, February 7, DCI noted with concern the increase in reports of loss of hard-earned money by Kenyans to scammers pretending to trade in cryptocurrency.

Scores are being lured to join online cryptocurrency investment platforms and end up losing their investments to fraudsters.

On DCI's radar were SMS texts sent by the fraudsters with links to join the online investment platforms, with enticing messages such as "Make Money Sitting at Home" to trick unsuspecting victims.

DCI officers stand guard at the investigative agency's headquarters along Kiambu Road. /DCI

"We are currently investigating several such cases where investors who fell for the scam are crying foul. In the modern-day hoodwink that has swept the Kenyan market, short messages (SMS) that read “Make Money Sitting At Home” are being sent to random people, with a link to join the online investment platform," stated the DCI in part.

The scammers promise their victims high margins of profit as returns on investment.

The victims on their part venture into the schemes and before they realize it, they've lost huge sums of money to scammers.

"The DCI cautions Kenyans and any other person to beware of this scam and advises them to verify the authenticity of any online investment platforms with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Communication Authority (CA) respectively before investing their hard-earned money," added the DCI.

Furthermore, DCI has asked Kenyans to report any information of anyone using different approaches while posing as online investors.

"Should you have information on anyone using this approach to scam investors, please contact us through the DCI toll-free hotline 0800722203," advised the DCI.

Notably, Kenya on September 28, 2023, advocated for stringent regulation of virtual currency as one of the most effective strategies in securing its jurisdiction as a secure financial hub from illicit financial flows.

Speaking during the 31st Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in Africa (HONLAF) in Abuja, Nigeria, Kenya’s head of delegation to the meeting Beverly Opwora who is also the Secretary for National Administration in the State Department of Internal Security observed that the country robustly pursued amendments to laws in appreciation of the dynamic money laundering risks related to predicate offences such as drug trafficking.

“On this, we have proactively amended The Proceeds of Crime and Anti-money Laundering Act (POCAMLA) that has lessened the reporting time of suspicious activity from 7 days to 2 days in cognizance of the need for timely interventions. It has also amended the cash transactions threshold to fit within the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) standards - USD 10,000 (Ksh1.5 million) to USD 15,000 (Ksh2.2 million),” she said.

Speaking at the same forum, the Acting Director of Financial Intelligence, Analysis and Reporting at the Financial Reporting Center in Kenya, Thomas Kathuli added that the amendment of the law has allowed the acquisition of intervention powers to preserve funds suspected to be linked to illicit financial flows.

“This is particularly critical in ensuring funds linked to drug trafficking are preserved immediately. We have also upscaled our activities towards updating the suspicious transaction reporting guide for reporting institutions to include the new emerging typologies to enable them to detect suspicious transaction activities,” said Kathuli.

According to Kathuli, financial investigations are crucial in detecting drug trafficking syndicates, the players involved, financial flows, assets involved, jurisdictions of operation and channels exploited.

A graphic showing Bitcoins. /FILE