He adds that since the inception of mobile money transfer in Kenya, such stories are the norm of the day. Millions of cash is lost through fraudulent means with little, if any action from the relevant bodies or service providers. If you ask any Kenyan on the street who sends those ” am stuck with a cargo at the port please send me money” messages, everyone knows they originate from a certain prison. So it goes without saying that money transfer companies are aware that their customers are at a risk.
“Therefore I beg to ask: who should protect us? Why is it impossible for providers to reverse a transaction quickly once money is sent to the wrong recipient? Has fraud had no consequences in Kenya? What does the law say about fraud?” He asks.
These and other thousands of questions from him and his friends led him to come up with ConmenDatabase.com in a move to flag fraudulent mobile phone numbers, by providing an online database of numbers involved in fraud; where people can search and get results if the number is flagged or not.
Numbers listed on Conmen Database solely comes from consumers and the process of listing is authenticated by our team of experts upon SMS verification. Garcia hopes to end mobile money transfer scams which are rampant, causing loss of millions of money every day ans those fraudlent agents and sellers on platforms such as OLX , classifieds pages in print newspares such as Nation, Standard and the Star among others.
Numbers listed as engaging in fraudulent activity can be delisted by sending a request to them at email@example.com. Delisting takes about 15-30 days after several fraud checks.
“I am sure all of us have had a date with the conmen and their tactics of reaping where they did not sow. Personally, I know quite a number of people who have sent money to the wrong number and they were never refunded because “the recipient already withdrawn the money”. The cases and stories keep changing every day. With a background IT, I have been thinking of a way I can help Kenyans protect themselves, without calling service providers who are unresponsive or take too long to act. I believe justice delayed is justice denied,” Garcia told TechMoran.
The site, less than a month old has had over 2000 searches already and has listed about 30 mobile numbers with names that have been involved in fraud. Garcia says the database will be a collection from different kinds of fraud happening in the country. So, if a customer want to transact a business whether on any online market platform like OLX, Soko Nyeusi, Soko Kuu, they will log in, enter the number and search.
“Other potential users are employers before hiring. If you want to buy a car from the advertiser section of the newspaper, search. If you are hiring a car, search. The bottom line is, search before any transaction!” he says.
Apart from just reporting to the police, he says users can list the mobile user on a public database making the conman think twice, making reversal faster and voluntary. He says he wants to send a message to conmen out there that they can run and hide but not for too long. Garcia says he is working on an android application that will enable users identify conmen whenever they call them. Using the same platform, the user can search for a number without necessarily logging in onto the website. The app will also allows users to report conmen from the app.
“M-PESA, Airtel Money, Orange Money, MobiKash and other providers are not off the hook yet. If money is sent to the wrong number, and the user withdraws the money, why not make that account negative so that when it is loaded the money is held till the user clears equivalent of money withdrawn? He asks. “With the massive campaign for users to register all lines in Kenya, I believe it is wise and prudent for the firms to block identification card (ID) numbers that have previously been used in fraud from registering new numbers. In addition, it should be illegal for a single ID number to register more than one line in a day and a maximum of 10 lines in a year. This will prevent conmen locked in a cell from owning more than 200 lines.”
Conmendatabase is also social. Apart from the site, they are Twitter (@conmendatabase) and Facebook.com/conmendatabase to help prevent fraud which they say is detrimental to individuals as well as to the Kenya’s economy.