No one likes to feel tricked. We feel abused when we are the target of a deception, as though someone has cheated us. Being duped robs us of our dignity and trust in both romantic relationships and professional settings, and in Nairobi you get robbed off the possibility of helping a stranger as you have to be extra cautious with everyone.
If you have lived in Kenya long enough, you have possibly heard a couple of con stories or even experienced it yourself.
One thing we can agree on is that the city has swindlers with endless tricks to relieve you of your money in a blink. If you’re not careful you can end up losing a lot of money.
Today our article is different, the person behind the Koa blog keyboard will tell you a story about how someone they know got conned some cash. Let’s call our main character Njeri.
So, Njeri had plans to move out from her parents house and was house hunting. If you have hunted for a house in Nairobi before you know how tiring this task can be right? Njeri saw one of these stickers you see around that read “House to let”, “Call for a house agent” , “1 bedroom to rent” or some like in this case “SQ for Ksh 14,000” in Langata.
Njeri had thought of moving to Buruburu but the houses were too expensive. So why not try this SQ(servant quarters) in Langata. I mean for a person who’s just moving out, this is a catch! But if you have a great understanding of houses and pricing, if the price looks too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.
But who was Njeri? She was relentless in her house hunting journey, she gave the guy a call.
Two weeks later she met him and he tells her that she can only visit the said SQ if she pays the first month deposit and she also pays him pesa ya macho.(a small bribe for showing her the house), this was about Ksh 2,500.
This was the first red flag but knowing Njeri, she was an innocent first time mover, ofcourse she was compliant.
She paid the guy, was given the key, went to the SQ, saw it, it was a little dirty for her liking but cleaning it up wouldn’t hurt right? So Njeri immediately calls up her friend, tells her she’s secured the house, and that she should come help to move and clean up the following day.
The moving day came, Njeri was excited, she was finally getting her own place. Unfortunately, the moving truck services she was working with didn’t show. But this wasn’t an issue, this was not going to stop her from cleaning up the place. So calls her friend and they head to the SQ.
What she saw when she opened the door is still unbelievable to date. There was a whole family living in this SQ. In fact when she opened the door, a crying baby welcomed her.
Three questions run through her mind:
i) Did this family move overnight?
ii) I’m I in the right SQ?
iii) I’m I dreaming?
She couldn’t understand, because the key that she was given after paying the first month’s deposit did opened the SQ's door.
The family living there politely explained to her that she has been conned. Njeri couldn’t help but wonder whether this family was in on the con.
The guy who was her point of contact/agent was already mteja. She tried waiting for him at the shopping centre they used to meet for three consecutive days but the guy never showed.
To date she still doesn’t understand how that con worked. I also don’t, but I sure do know this guy has conned more people way more money.
There are other situations where people are conned like, fake business ventures, Instagram/Facebook pages that sell non-existant products, land agents, the bahasha ya pesa guy, the list is endless. You need to be careful. There’s no guidebook to this but there are red signs you can definitely watch out for. You should also do your due diligence before putting large amounts of money into businesses you don’t know much about.
You need to manage risk effectively. Keep yourself and your money safe!