On most occasions, Kenyans migrate from their rural areas to the urban, such as Nairobi, in search of jobs, some come to reap off those that come to seek decent jobs and they are in our midst, they Nairobi’s dreaded con artists.
Like other professionals, they wake up, clean and dress up ready for another at work only that in their work, you, whom I assume to be a dignified paper chaser, and I fall victim and lose our hard belongings and money to them.
The emotions that take place after losing to a con artist are gradual and begin with shock, the minute you notice you’ve lost either money or electronic, you are shocked.
Once the shock drowns in, anger towards the con artist follows in and is accompanied by disgust for them, you internally or loudly curse them but they are long gone by this time.
The anger for the con artist is slowly followed by self-blame and at this point diverts the anger to yourself, the victim, you start thinking of what you should or should not have done to have avoided the situation but that does not solve your situation.
Embarrassment then kicks in, in your process of emotions after being conned and this leaves you mostly wondering how stupid you are, naive, lack discernment and right judgement.
A con artist mostly leaves you too embarrassed to share your experience as you feel you will be judged and viewed as naive but did you know that in every five people in Nairobi, four have been conned and lost.
Most Kenyans and international guests are scared to walk around Nairobi especially in the Central Business District (CBD) as con artists target all, from the high-income earners strolling in the streets to the house helps who tour the streets on Sunday, which is mostly their off day.
Open up and share your experiences knowing well that the only way to beat them at their game is by sharing so as many people as possible get to know and stay safe.
I share a few tricks played on Nairobians with you, share yours in the comment section and help stop con artists in Kenya:
The Safety-Belt Tactic
“We were all seated in a minibus approaching the Central Business District (CBD). It was noisy and aired explicit music videos,” Wambui says.
“Karao! Karao! Fungeni mishipi! (Cops! Cops! Buckle up!),” I heard some guy shout. Scared of getting arrested for not buckling up, I frantically began to search for the safety belt,” Wambui says, adding that getting buckled took her several minutes.
“Immediately I was through buckling, the guy seated next to me wanted to alight, I squeezed myself to create room for him,” Wambui says with a beaten look.
“I settled and decided to draw out my phone out of habit, it was not there,” Wambui says adding that she emptied her bag onto her laps hoping she could find it to no avail.
“I even checked the floor of the moving minibus,” Wambui says with a weak smile adding that when the whole ordeal began to unfold in her mind, she was mad at herself.
Wambui’s phone was stolen as soon as she turned to buckle, the guy sitting next to her unzipped her bag, removed the phone and alighted before she could notice her bag was unzipped.
Wambui’s experience is similar to that of con artists who sit next to you in a matatu and while passing their bus fare to the conductor, which is mostly in form of coins, pretend to drop some of it by mistake.
The con artists in Nairobi request you to assist in looking for the ‘dropped coins’ and as you both bend to look for the lost monies, their partner in crime on your other side, unknown to you, floss your pockets, handbags and every hole that looks promising.
The Nairobi con artists could also deviate your attention from your bag by either pretending one of the passengers is sick and about to vomit, the vomiting passenger is a con and will face you in a way that will make you realize they are about to vomit on you.
In your rush to escape the vomit, at this time you are sitting near the window which the fake vomiting guy wants to access, you will most likely want to move seats and in the pushing and squeezing, they will frisk you.
Tips On How To Out-Smart Con Artists In Nairobi
Learn to mind your own business
As ruthless as it can sound at times, it helps a lot to mind your own business in Nairobi. Leave your helpful nature when you tour urban centers in the little sacred villages where you drop your phone and run after you to hand it back.
You will spot those who are always in the middle of their journey but always have no money and need to use your phone to call someone, pretend to be deaf, it helps, and sorry for them if they were honest, blame the system.
Those seeking direction, kindly pretend to be deaf, you are not a walking map, they will soon notice the security people standing outside shops and be assisted if at all they are honest.
Don’t Be Greedy
Con artists prey on greed, that guy with a heavy accent telling you of how he has won hundreds of thousands with charity sweepstake but has no Identity card to access the money and promises you many thousands is a con artist, WALK AWAY.
That guy dropping an envelope that seems heavily stashed with money and another one coming for you to share without informing whoever dropped it is another con artist, WALK AWAY.
That call coming through your phone you have won and they need a few thousand or hundreds to process your win is also another con, hung up the phone or just tell them, “you are cons, invent another trick already!”
Be Careful With Your Belongings
I have personally had my sling bag slit with a razor, glad they only got my business card holder and my money wallet and phone were in a side pocket the blade did not reach, it was traumatizing, to say the least.
When in crowded places within a city, be alert and aware of your environment, have a tight grip of your bag and avoid jewelry around your neck especially if it’s gold-like and you are walking around Nairobi’s CBD.
Keep the windows shut and your belongings away from the window to avoid snatching and keep safe.
Share Your experiences with con artists or those you’ve heard of in the comments section so we can help each other keep safe.