Every month, I keep bumping on new instant mobile loan apps. Their popularity makes sense in a nation that has made key strides in mobile money products and the ease of accessing such services. However, prompt loans come at a steep price: repayment is outright expensive (in their defense, institutions dishing loans to users do not know them in person. At the same time, no paperwork nor assurances in terms of assets or property are needed, making it riskier to give you money anyway) and users need to submit a substantial amount of information for the service’s algorithms that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to determine limits.
In line with the benefits online loans, unsuspecting users have, in one way or another, ended up submitting personal details to fraudsters purporting to offer instant funds. The latest scheme is run by a Facebook group called Inua Kinamama Loans and Okoa Loans that falsely offer loans in association with The Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT).
In a warning distributed in print media, the bank has alerted people to avoid the services of the mentioned groups.
We have since checked ‘Inua Kinamama Loans’ Facebook activities and true to KWFT’s warning, their posts are obviously fishy.
To begin with, the page appears to market a service called JOYWO/JOYFUL Loans on a Google docs platform that is obviously not a website for the platform.
Here is a line from the form’s welcome page:
“The application process for both quick installment loans and unsecured personal loans is online. The application form is present right here on our website which can be accessed through ‘next’ link. You just have to type in brief details and submit the form for a guaranteed approval. We accept complete application forms 24 hours.”
The next button displays some conflicting requirements. For instance, the Facebook group guarantees a maximum of KES 100,000 in loans, whereas the Google docs platform increases the amount to KES 150,000.
Here is another line from the eligibility section:
“After application, a customer care agent will get in touch with you and advise you further on any questions you may have and the repayment details.”
Well, that is an online loan platform with a customer care agent who will call to ‘advise you further.’
What is more, first-time applicants need to pay a KES 330 fee that is ‘automatically refunded if you DO not qualify for the loan.’ While service fees are normal, the money is sent to a personal number rather than a paybill number.
It easy for people who do not have an eye for fine print to comply to these dubious requirements in the name of securing a quick loan. At the same time, submitting personal data to non-name institutions is dangerous as such information may end up in the wrong hands.
It is alarming how fraudsters are advancing their vice with near-genuine tricks to dupe unsuspecting people.