Kenyans lured on public likes and lost 2.2 Billions. PHOTO | Courtesy

The most common site that has been shared mostly on social media sites and more 2 million people joined, public likes scheme has shut down. The Safaricom telecommunication company suspended the transactions until the directors and the partners identified. It is estimated that 2.2 Billion shillions lost from Kenyans hard earn revenue to the American company, Public likes inc.

Public Likes is on the verge of collapse- if it has not already. Public Likes grabbed the attention of new investors by offering them short-term returns that are abnormally high. It is clear that the returns were not in legitimate business activities. This site, which describes itself as “social media marketing,” purported to connect advertisers with potential customers. Users of the site get paid by simply clicking on the adverts or Paid-to-click (PTC). The money they receive is allegedly payment made by advertisers for every click, or what is known as Pay per Click (PPC). It was a smart lie. Not only was Public Likes a Ponzi Scheme, it was also part of an intricate online fraud that has seen advertisers lose close to Sh2 trillion annually in advertising revenues.

In less than three months, public likes rumored to have attracted about 2 million users. At its height, Public Likes was among the most popular websites in the country, ahead of Twitter, Standard Digital, Wikipedia, and sports betting website, according to Alexa, a California-based company that provides commercial web traffic data and analytics. Anne had about Sh60,000 stuck in the company before Safaricom decided to suspend Public Like’s Paybill, citing numerous complaints from its users for non-payment.

A user earned Sh10 for each ad they clicked on this level. Most people chose to immediately upgrade to the next level, Business Basic. Here they paid a one off subscription of Sh4,500 and made Sh7,500 a month from watching a maximum of 25 Ads. They would also start earning from referrals, earning Sh4 for every click made by the users they introduced.

And then the Paybill number was suspended and the company claimed to be restructuring the website. And now the company is enticing users with new and better options of making money including offer walls, videos, daily jackpot. For PTC, it will be re-introduced as soon as they are able to get local advertisers, they say.

If it is true that the site had 2 million users- even if only 500,000 of these made the Sh4,500 payment, this translates to Sh2.25 billion. This is 15 times more than what the government has made from its M-Akiba bond since its inception.

Safaricom confirmed that they had a meeting with the representatives of the company, but they couldn’t reveal the identity of these individuals. Public Likes might also have been part of a global scam known as click fraud that has robbed advertisers of about Sh1.7 trillion annually, according to ad verification company Adloox.

D9 Club, a company that describes itself as a sports trading agent, is still popular among most Kenyans even after Central Banks of Rwanda and Uganda raised a red-flag against it. The firm with a business model similar to that of a pyramid scheme, continues to operate even after being blacklisted in some countries.

MMM Global owned by known Russian fraudster Sergey Mavrodi is yet another Ponzi scheme with operations in Kenya- though it is not online like Public Likes and D9 Club. Members are promised great rewards if they donate money. They earn points in bitcoins. Member is requested to make personal help of not less than Sh1,000. You get 30 per cent on your contributions. Moreover, the more new members you recruit, the more bonuses you get by earning points.

Now, even before the dust kicked off by Public Likes settles, another PTC has mushroomed. Known as Synergy Traffic, this one is more alluring than Public Likes. Users can withdraw a minimum of Sh2,500 as opposed to Sh4,500 like Public Likes. It does not have limits of clicks per day. Synergy Traffic- unlike Public Likes- have taken care of themselves by giving or receiving payment through Bitcoin- a cryptic currency and payment system popular with fraudsters as transactions cannot be trailed. Before fate befell them, Public Likes had plans to introduce Bitcoin as one of the modes of payment.

Another pay to click site that has also lured people by watching videos and get paid is sell-diam from Russia. People have been warned as selldiam accept withdrawals when someone pays $10. The clicks range from £1 to £5 and someone can get up to £70 per day.

The companies also include suspicious activities of DICE, GNLD, AIM global and other unidentified pyramids which have been existing in the country with a purpose of milking to dry the common person. More foreign companies have been coming to Kenya to invest, actually on the poor man effort.


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