How to Spot a Scam: 11 Red Flags

From pressure to act quickly, unsolicited contact, unprofessional communication, the impersonation of trusted brands and emotional manipulation, we discuss the tell-tale signs of common scams in Kenya.

Greetings, and welcome to the tenth edition of Wallet Wellness in 2024 - your midweek source of practical financial tips to elevate your money management skills!

We hope you had a chance to check out the last edition where we discussed Steps to Get Out of Debt in 2024. Today we'll uncover the top red flags signaling a potential scam

As always, be sure to check out the Concept Corner below for a deep dive into the money concept of the week.

Let’s dive in!


11 Red Flags to Identify Scams in Kenya

Ever had that gut feeling that something's not quite right? Maybe you’ve stumbled upon an offer that seems too good to be true or received a message that leaves you feeling uneasy. Well, you’d better investigate! 

In today's digital age, scams are unfortunately all too common and are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

But fear not! Armed with the right knowledge, you can navigate through the murky waters of deceit and protect yourself from falling prey to scams.

Treat this as your own personal Scam-Spotting Adventure, where each red flag is a clue leading you closer to unraveling the truth behind suspicious offers and dubious schemes.

So buckle up, keep your wits about you, and let's get to it!

Red Flag 1 🚩:Unsolicited Contact

This could be emails, texts, or calls from someone you do not know or were not expecting to hear from. This is a common tactic where the scammer hopes you’ll respond upon which they pressure you to act fast or share sensitive info. Read More.

  • Verify: Be cautious and verify the source. Do not engage if unsure. Do not click on any links. 

Red Flag 2 🚩: Pressure to Act Quickly

Scammers use pressure tactics to make you act quickly, often creating a sense of urgency or fear. This can include threats of legal action, offers/benefits that expire soon, or claims that require immediate action. Read More.

  • Take Your Time: It's important to take your time, be calm, verify the information, and not let pressure force you into making a hasty decision.

Red Flag 3 🚩: Requests for Personal Information

Scammers can make seemingly legitimate requests for personal information, such as ID numbers, PINs, or bank account details, under false pretenses. This can happen both online and offline.

  • Seek Advice: Never provide personal information to unknown or unverified sources to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. You’d better consult a third party or expert. 

Red Flag 4 🚩: Offer Sounds Too Good to Be True

Offers that promise unrealistic investment returns or benefits with little or no risk should raise suspicion. Most are often unsolicited. Read More.

  • Research: Such offers should be approached with skepticism and careful research done, consult financial advisors before committing to anything to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

Red Flag 5 🚩: Requests for Upfront Payment

They may promise goods, services, or opportunities that sound appealing but require payment before delivery. This could be for processing fees, taxes, or other reasons. However, once the payment is made, the scammer often disappears. Read More.

  • Decline: Be very wary of such requests and thoroughly research and verify the legitimacy of the offer before making any payments. If unsolicited, do not engage.

Red Flag 6 🚩: Impersonation of Trusted Entities

Scammers often impersonate trusted entities, such as banks, government agencies, or well-known companies, to gain the trust of their victims. They may use emails, phone calls, or websites that appear legitimate to trick individuals into providing personal information or making payments. Read More.

  • Authenticate: It's important to verify the authenticity of such communications and never provide sensitive information to unknown or unverified sources.

Red Flag 7 🚩: Company Has Little or no Online Presence or Physical Address

This especially targets job applicants or people doing business online. Legitimate businesses have a considerable online presence with verifiable contact information and customer reviews.

This lack of contact information makes it difficult to verify the legitimacy of the company and can indicate a potential scam. Read More.

  • Second Opinion: Research and verify the credibility of a company before engaging with them, providing any personal or financial information or making any payments.

Red Flag 8 🚩: Unprofessional Communication

Poorly done company logos, poor grammar, and misspellings may indicate a lack of legitimacy. Legitimate businesses maintain a professional tone in their communications. Read More.

  • Watch Out: If you notice overly casual or unprofessional language in emails or messages, it could be a red flag.

Red Flag 9 🚩: Unexpected Prize or Lottery Winnings

Scammers often lure individuals by falsely claiming they've won a prize or lottery draw, despite the individual not entering any such competition.

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: Always verify unexpected offers before sharing information or making payments of any sort. If you did not participate in a competition, you cannot be a winner. Read More.

Red Flag 10 🚩: Unusual Payment Methods

Suggestions of unusual payment methods, such as gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers, make it difficult to trace or recover funds. These methods are often used to avoid detection and bypass traditional banking systems' security measures.

  • Steer Clear: Be cautious when asked to use these payment methods, especially in unsolicited or suspicious situations, as they are commonly associated with scams. Read More.

Red Flag 11 🚩: Emotional Manipulation

Scammers methodically exploit feelings of fear, greed, urgency, sympathy, excitement, or loneliness (in the case of romance scams) to get their victims to act impulsively. 

  • Educate Yourself: Recognizing these manipulative tactics is essential to safeguarding oneself against scams and maintaining a skeptical mindset when faced with unexpected or suspicious requests. Read More.

Think You've Been Scammed? What Next…

What should you do in the unfortunate event that you are a victim of fraud?

  1. Stop contact with the scammer and collect all necessary information and documents

  2. Secure your finances: contact your bank or related service provider and change associated passwords

  3. Report the fraud to the police.

  4. Monitor accounts for unauthorised activity.

  5. Stay vigilant against further fraud attempts.

  6. Seek psychological support if needed.

Remember, acting quickly and decisively can help minimize the impact of fraud and protect your financial well-being. Read More.

In conclusion, staying vigilant and informed is key to protecting yourself from scams in today's digital world. By recognizing the red flags and employing caution, you can navigate through potential scams with confidence. 

Remember, if something seems too good to be true or you feel pressured to act quickly, take a step back, verify the information, and seek advice if need be. By following these simple steps, you can safeguard your finances and personal information from fraudsters. Read More.

Stay safe, stay informed, and happy scam-spotting! 


Pyramid Scheme

It’s a fraudulent system of making money based on recruiting an ever-increasing number of "investors." Victims are promised high returns for recruiting new members rather than earning an income through the sale of a service or product. Why do more Kenyans continue to fall for this? Read More. 

Money Campus

Losing a Large Sum of Money

People have fallen for savvy conmen, not-so-good investment decisions have left many in financial chaos, some have been robbed outright, a shamba deal gone wrong here or a car stolen, torched or totalled. Losing a significant amount of your money can leave you in distress. But how do you bounce back? Read More.


“Psst! Someone Dropped Their Wallet!”

One of the oldest scams in the streets of Nairobi and major towns across the country is the “drop swindle” or the “dropped wallet” scam that is a cautionary tale told to many city newbies. It’s back with a new twist! We explain it in this week’s #MoneyTok. Read more about how the emotion of greed is used in this type of scam.


The Dropped Wallet Scam is Back, with a New Twist. Watch the video belo to learn about it. #Money254 #Moneytok #Personalfinance #Beware #N... See more

That's it for the tenth Wallet Wellness edition of 2024! We hope these financial tips have added some energy to your mid-week hustle. Stay tuned for more practical insights in our next edition of "Wallet Wellness" next week and watch out for Money Weekly on your inbox this Friday.

Also, don’t forget to download the Money254 App on the Google Play Store, and remember that we can help you compare over 300 loans, savings accounts, current accounts, and more if you’re thinking about your next product.

Cheers to your wallet's well-being!

Money254 editorial team.


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