There is a crass new way to make money in Kenya. A lot of people are suffering here, and even CRB Kenya, the Credit Reference Bureau, may not be aware of it, as it is through them that many learn about the scam. The heart of the matter remains the fact that we are very open and careless with personal information in Kenya.
You may not have heard of a company called “Paddy Micro Investment”. They are a micro-credit solution. And they promise to make you rich if you sign up, give them at least 5,000 shillings and become one of their agents. They run a shortcode * 269 # which welcomes you to Pesapata.
Paddy Micro Investment offers loans. So ideally an agent signs up, investing money like 5k, and then looking for people to give loans to. The loans granted are supposed to be repaid on a weekly basis. There is also a smartphone app and the above shortcode.
These investment groups are all over the country. The claim to offer people quick money at sometimes exciting, sometimes exorbitant fees.
Look at their bad logo on Facebook:
The Credit reference office is known in Kenya to many as the place where your name can end up if you don’t pay your Safaricom MShwari loan. If you are registered with CRB, it means that, for a period not exceeding 5 years, you will not be able to access any loan from any source whatsoever.
If you are a college graduate, or someone else for that matter, who has never defaulted on any loan, you are sure that you cannot be registered with CRB under any circumstances. So when you apply for a job, you will want to get your CRB clearance certificate and go on living. Until you meet “Paddy Micro Investment” and the claim that you owe them Ksh. 12,000.
Many Kenyans discover Paddy Micro Investment for the first time when they apply for CRB authorization. You are told that you owe them money, but you have never heard of it.
On their Facebook page (and even on Twitter mentions), many Kenyans are busy complaining about how they found themselves listed by CRB as defaults of a company they have never heard of, or illegally. after paying and clearing their loans.
Here are some screenshots of some of the rare complaints I’ve read (Note that this information is public on the page, so I am not invading anyone’s privacy)
Here is a collection of complaints on Twitter:
The worst part is that it is indirectly supported by CRB. If you don’t have CRB authorization, you’re done. And if a loan facility, even a scam facility like Paddy Investment, claims you have defaulted on a loan, then you are done. You have no choice but to cough up the amount they claim you borrowed.
So how do they get your contact details if you’ve never borrowed from them?
Kenya has a big problem in terms of confidentiality.
Paddy Investment videos on their page claim that their agents are looking for people and offering them loans. To get a mortgage, they need your phone number and ID number. But to claim that they gave you a loan, all they need is your ID number.
Your identification number can be
- Guessed – made from the blues or
- Chosen from MPesa or other mobile money agents
Here is an example of a person complaining:
So that means either Paddy Investment seeks to make money with innocent Kenyans by declaring them in default, or their agents take out loans using people’s names and IDs and then list innocent Kenyans as defaulters. Both scenarios could be true.
The problem is now WHAT CAN KENYANS DO?
Paddy Investment has over 23,000 likes on its Facebook page. Their website http://www.paddymicro.co.ke/ is currently not available. But https://pesapata.com/ is available, although last updated in 2016. Their phone number 0707000222 remains unanswered.
The team behind Paddy Investment from a screenshot from July 2015 lists the following people:
Paddy Micro Investment had good days back then when it was featured in numerous magazines and online publications including:
- Techmoran – here
- CIO – 2013 best company in the financial sector
- How we did it in Africa – here
- African Affairs Review
- Niaje and
- Microfinance Africa