MY WEEKEND: Do not let greed make you a gullible victim of con artists

Saturday February 27 2016

All today’s crook has to do is send a mass text

All today’s crook has to do is send a mass text message that they hope will fool at least one of the 50 people they send it to. Whether you fall for the ruse or not, of course, depends on your needs at that moment. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

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I never cease to be amazed by the ingenious ploys con artists come up with to try and extort money from gullible Kenyans.

The old school con artist had to work thrice as hard as today’s con artist because there were no mobile phones to hide behind. To get something out of you, he or she had to approach you, look you in the

eye, convince you of his “good” intentions, and then hoodwink you into buying something that did not exist.

All today’s crook has to do is send a mass text message that they hope will fool at least one of the 50 people they send it to. Whether you fall for the ruse or not, of course, depends on your needs at that


You have probably got a text message from a “girl” calling herself Annie Smith, from Colorado, in the US. Or Tasha Brown, from Massachusetts, in the US. Or Tamara Banks, again from one of the many states in the US.

All these “girls” claim to work for some big non-governmental organisation to give the impression that they have money – pray, what makes them think that everyone who works for an NGO gets big bucks?

Anyway, all are looking for a “friend” to help them banish the loneliness that comes with being a newbie in a strange country.

Depending on your needs, you might just fall for this one, only to realise much later, when you have parted with your hard-earned money, that Tamara is actually a hardcore jailbird in Kamiti called Kama alias Bonoko, or Odhis Yule Mbaya or Mwas aka Mrefu, or Kip the destroyer.

A while ago, someone sent me this hilarious exchange on WhatsApp:

“Hi, am Sarah Jones, 34yrs Lonely, Single, Honest and God fearing, working with USaid. Looking to settle here in Kenya. If interested, call or sms. Thanks.


Njitagwo Wachira, wina mbeca kana no muchene?

Reply from ‘Sarah Jones’

“Oria Nyukwa.”

For those who are “floating”, here’s a direct translation of the response to “Sarah Jones”:

“My name is Wachira, do you have money or is this just idle talk? (pang’ang’a if you like)

Sarah Jones: “Ask your mother.”

Just so you know, where I come from, when someone insults you and includes the word “mother” somewhere within the insult, then that is a very serious insult, and indicates that person is really annoyed.

And don’t ask me how Wachira guessed that Sarah Jones was from Central Kenya.

Anyway, from that exchange, Wachira clearly wasn’t fooled by “Sarah Jones of USaid”, though I bet that there are men who have fallen for the trick, thanking their lucky stars for dropping a rich American girl starved of love on their laps.

About a month or so ago, I returned a missed call, only for the person on the other side to tell me, “Yes mandam, naitwa Shandrack, I was calling you from Safaricom Shinda ngali promotion…” (Yes

madam, my name is Shadrack, I was calling you from Safaricom win a car promotion).

I promptly hit the “end call” button, slightly annoyed that I had wasted air time on a crook. I am always amused when I hear yet another story of someone who was conned using such phony calls.

If you did not participate in a competition, how on earth would you win millions of shillings? And why would the person on the other side ask you to M-Pesa 1,000 bob to facilitate the payment of a million bob? If this is not blind greed, I don’t know what is.

When Mungiki called the shots in some parts of this country, someone received a phone call from someone who informed him that he was mungiki, and that if he did not send Sh3,000 by the end of the day

to that number, he would have his head cut off by the end of the week.

Not one to be scared easily, he retorted that he was a policeman, and that by the end of that day, he would be behind bars, and would be for a very long time to come. The “mungiki” promptly hang up and

never called back again. I also have a feeling that he threw his SIM card down a pit latrine and got a new one.





Valentine’s day - the bane of all men. Personally I believe it’s an overhyped sales pitch by clever marketers. I buy my wife gifts all year round so I stubbornly refuse to do anything on February 14. Well, it’s earned me a “nil by mouth” treatment all week! Howard


I entirely agree with you, especially about the flowers and the entire hullabaloo that goes on with Valentine’s. I entirely relate to your ideal romantic holiday. It’s my favourite too.      Michael


You have made my day: you have no romantic bone in you body, but you have a family. This sounds crazy. Onyino


I am an ardent reader of your Sunday articles. I can relate with each piece including today’s (last Sunday). They are so authentic, I feel like I know you too well and realise we are cut from the same cloth. Wilson


The way the West has made us believe romance is, it’s what doesn’t make sense to us. Flowers add no value if you stay in the same shabby house with a leaking roof. I feel that the man who worked to improve his house during that much overrated day is the most romantic. Arthur


On the day I was admitted to the Bar in February 1997, my first cousin Kìrigo (may she rest In peace) gave me with a bunch of flowers. Handling the same during the two or so hours I was at what is now the Supreme Court was one of the most uneasy

times in my life. After the ceremony, I dumped them in a bin. Ndegwa


I have just read the first two paragraphs and I am already typing this.  Looks like I am going to agree to every word today. Oride