How people get conned in Nairobi

1. Bahasha ya pesa 

You’re a broke college student changing buses on your way to Shamakhokho village after your first semester. Coming from a supermarket at OTC, a smartly-dressed man hurries past you and drops a white envelope. Before you alert him, another man grabs, opens it and there, voila! It is money.

“No one else saw us, tugawane!” he offers. You retreat to a public toilet where he proposes you go count the quid after leaving your phone or wallet as ‘security’. Inside the bahasha is a Sh100 note attached to worthless pieces of newspapers. Of course, you know what happens to your phone and wallet!

2. Phone ya matope

You are window shopping along Tom Mboya Street staring at cell phone displays when you’re offered a Sh40,000 phone for Sh6k by a stranger who can smell your Murang’a roots a kilometre away. You check the gadget; it’s new and genuine.

Deal concluded, he takes the phone to remove his Sim card, but exchanges it with a dummy whose insides are stashed with matope. He tells you to put it in your pocket to keep off cops!

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3. Shamba la mawe

Many first timers have cried at the Ndarugo quarries in Juja town where Maina decides to cut construction cost by sourcing materials himself. He arrives at the quarry in a hired lorry and purchases building bricks at Sh30,000.

But as they’re being loaded, a ‘quarry supervisor’ offers to secretly sell to him a truckload of rejects at Sh12,000. The office should not know this, he’s told, as money disappears faster than Maina can say ‘Ngai Fafa!’ as the supervisor and loaders are not even employees of the quarry!

4. Expensive ‘KYM’

Makokha from Vihiga County arrives at Machakos Country Bus station armed with heavy luggage after his cousin secured him a job as a guard. A kanda ya mkono (KYM or porter) offers to carry his luggage without mentioning the charges, but once off the bus stage, the porter demands Sh500.

Bargaining is made hard by mean-looking  enforcers who appear from thin air.

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5. Fake NGO jobs

A newly-minted graduate teacher applies for a Sh100k salary job with an NGO which shortly informs him that he’s the best candidate despite never attending an interview. And ‘Mwalim’ does not see any problem sending Sh950 as interview fee. Truly, a fool and his money are soon parted!

6. Money-minting chemicals

Having sold your only cow and leased out half of your land to raise money to take your beloved daughter to college, you feel bold enough to multiply the money after strangers demonstrate how miracles work with chemicals that make Sh1,000 notes from plain paper.

But there is a problem. The special chemical is expensive. You offer to withdraw real money to fund the venture that will ensure you pigisha umaskini kwa ukuta!

7. Buying a road reserve

You’ve been told by investment gurus that land never depreciates. So, you take a Sacco loan for that kaploti in Ruiru but alas! After conducting due diligence and sealing the deal before a lawyer, you later realise – while putting up a mansion – that you bought land on a road reserve.

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8. Gari poa

You walk into a car bazaar or yard and fall in love with a cheaply-priced set of wheels. With a trusted friend, you test-drive it and shortly part with Sh650,000 after conducting a  search.

Only later after the ‘Flying Squad’ descend on you, do you realise it was stolen and the registration and chassis numbers are those of an insurance write-off!

9. Cheap flat screen

You walk into an electronics shop where a flat screen goes for Sh20,000, whereas a similar one at a supermarket costs Sh28,000. You pay the money and when you move to collect it, you realise you are supposed to add more cash for the full kit!

10. Fake house agents

You call an agent from a number on a poster on a roadside tree as you need a house, urgently. You pay the rent and two month deposit only to be stopped by the caretaker while moving in with your worldly possessions atop a pickup! The agent and his ‘official receipt’ were fake!

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