As the world battles the dreaded coronavirus crisis, which has wrought pain, anguish and anxiety by killing tens of thousands and leaving at least one million infected, a Kenyan somewhere saw an opportunity to swindle gospel musician Kambua Manundu out of her $300 (Ksh31, 700) using the pandemic.
The scammer created an email address, purporting to be a World Health Organization employee who was interested in getting Kambua on board for a global dialogue on coronavirus to be held in South Africa on April 18. Mark you, the sender does not state which city or province, or exact venue in S.A. the said-convention will take place.
In the April 2 email, whose sender is: [email protected], the crook asked the gospel artiste to deposit $300 (Ksh31, 700) “to our Kenyan ambassador of WHO, whose mobile number is +254701 117 319 to secure her spot”.
The fleecer then assures Kambua that her Ksh31, 700 will be refunded on April 19 after she has attended the conference.
On why they settled on Kambua, the mountebank said, in the email, it was because she is “among the ten influential people in Kenya”.
“Flight and accommodation will be catered for you. Once you send the $300, you will receive a confidential code that is strictly yours alone to be used at the JKIA on April 19. [For] any inquiries, email [email protected] (which kind of an official email address is this, surely?),” read a part of the email sent to Kambua by one Diana Pineda, the “Head of Human Resources”, at 12:02pm on Thursday.
The clip artist should have known that the Kenyan Government, in its bid to minimise the spread of COVID-19, indefinitely banned passenger flights from landing or taking off from the Kenyan airports beginning March 25, and, therefore, there was no way Kambua would fall for the scam.
The chiseller should have known that on March 23, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that a 21-day national lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus would start at midnight March 26. As on the date the swindler was sending the email (April 2), the lockdown in South Africa was still active, and, therefore, there was no way an international conference would be held in the country, let alone flights landing.
In order to establish who the owner of the cellphone line +254701 117 319 was, Kambua tried to send Ksh20 to the phone number using mobile money service M-Pesa, and it generated the name of one Kevin Kamau Mugo.
Bemused, Kambua took to micro-blogging site Twitter Thursday afternoon (April2) to share screenshots of the email she had received and the identity details of the conman.
“In other news (ION), I have been selected to help save Africa from coronavirus. Corona umetuchosha!” tweeted Kambua.
The artiste’s tweet received hundreds of comments, with a bulk of the responses laughing at how daft the grifter was.
TV presenter DJ Soxxy said: “Why would they think anyone would even want to travel to South Africa now?”
Dr. Njoki Ngumi joked: “Kambua, be the hero we need [right now], please.”
A user by the name Captain Ozwaid (@VinieO), joked: “Listen, Kambua, we have been friends since 1974. Send me that M-Pesa notification. We are about to become rich.”
The gospel artiste responded sarcastically, saying: “I suspect you, Ozwaid, are among the other nine influential people. Twende SA.”
South Africa is Africa’s hardest hit country by the COVID-19 outbreak, reporting 1, 462 infections as of Friday, April 3, with five deaths and 95 recoveries registered.