How I Was Conned In Nairobi

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I’ve always been extremely cautious in public places. I cling to my bag and walk as fast as possible with a stern face. I always thought that this would be enough to protect myself from thieves and robbers, but what I didn’t think through was the robbers who use friendly tactics to steal from me. I had heard stories of people being robbed but I always thought to myself that it could never be me. In the end, it happened to me, the proud me. Unbelievable.

This story opens up fresh scars that have not yet healed. This may sound dramatic, but never in my life have I felt so stupid. I am choosing to share this encounter with you not so you can judge me, but to serve as a lesson to all you out there. Isn’t writing all about vulnerability? So yes, you are allowed to laugh. Laugh but don’t judge.

I remember that day so vividly. My two friends had visited me on campus and we had lunch together. When it came to time to part ways, none of us wanted to split because it would be a long time before we saw each other again. I quickly found an excuse to go to the CBD. I wanted to buy a purse which wasn’t available in the chain store that was nearer home, so I wanted to go and check it out in town. That was the beginning of the tragedy. So that’s my first lesson to you today: When it’s home time, just go home.

We got to town and they accompanied me to the store. I didn’t find what I was looking for and still ended up disappointed. We parted ways at around 7:30 and I headed to the stage to catch a bus back home.

As I was walking to the stage, someone dropped an envelope right in front of me. I was a little distracted but I just continued to walk. A man, however, right behind me, picked the envelope up and started to signal the man in front who had dropped the envelope. I didn’t really think through it much. People drop their envelopes all the time.

I really wish I just kept to myself, but you know that little voice in your head that can’t be silenced? It got the better of me. So I alerted the guy in front that he was being called. I continued walking through, as fast as I could. I was about two minutes to my destination.

These two men conveniently exchanged the envelope right in front of me. The man who had supposedly dropped it acted like he was really grateful. He even went ahead to say how the envelope was full of company money and losing it would land him in big trouble. Don’t ask me how I heard all this. Let’s just say I’m very observant.

Just as I was boarding my bus, the man who had dropped the envelope grabbed my arm. He went ahead to thank me profusely for notifying him that he was being signalled by the man at the back. He said he didn’t know how to thank me enough.

I quickly assured him that it was not a problem and started to walk away, but then he called me back again. I remember some people looking back at me at this point because he was talking loudly. They probably knew I was about to be robbed but they couldn’t say anything.

That’s the thing. I, a Good Samaritan landed in these issues because of speaking up and yet the people around me chose to act oblivious about the entire situation. Life can be so unfair sometimes.

You may be wondering why I didn’t suspect this man for being too persistent. I’m wondering the same, but I suppose it’s too late to wonder. All we can do is learn from my mistake. Which leads me to lesson number two: Do not at all costs talk to strangers. The problem with these statements is, friends, start off as strangers. You cannot network if you don’t talk to strangers. I guess then the lesson would be to choose which strangers to talk to? I don’t know.

So this guy starts talking to me. He was dressed extremely well. I wouldn’t suspect him to be dodgy. He then tells me that he wants to reward me for helping him out.

The man opened his wallet and there were only dollars. He said he didn’t have Kenyan currency, but I should have wondered what exactly he was doing in town at 8 pm with no Kenyan shillings. All these things came to me too late, when the damage had already been done. How convenient.

The man then said something about being scared of removing the money in public, so he wanted to send one of us to remove it from a restaurant nearby. Here’s the part that doesn’t make sense to me. Because when I narrated this story to my close family and friends, none of them believed a minute of it. They said that they knew how introverted I was. I wouldn’t ordinarily talk to strangers, let alone have a full conversation with them. I really don’t understand what happened to me on this day.

Anyway, so the guy then asks the other guy who had picked the envelope up to go and remove the money from the envelope. He said, however, that he wanted leverage. The guy who picked the envelope opens his bag, and it has an iPad and a laptop. After this encounter, I now believe in mind games fully. The dollars and the iPad were a way of making me more comfortable and secure.

The guy who picked the envelope then walked away. As he was walking, this other guy started to tell me how he doesn’t trust men. I remember talking to a friend of mine over the phone at this point. She was in the area and wanted to come say hi. This man panicked a little when they saw me on the phone, but again I didn’t think that through. The man then went ahead to signal his counterpart to come back.

At this point, I was actually tired. I said “You know what? It’s fine. You don’t have to give me any money.”

I started to walk away. This time steadfastly. The two men followed me and asked me to go into the building and take the money. My phone was in my hand at this point. I cannot explain to you how these men took my phone, but when I finally realized that it was gone as I was walking away, I comforted myself in the fact that this was leverage, and that if they disappeared I would just buy a phone with the money in the envelope.

That’s when my senses came to me. I wish it happened a few seconds earlier because as soon as I turned back, these men were gone. When it happened I realized that this thought had crossed me so many times but I pushed it aside. What kind of person does that? I’m that fool.

The envelope I had been given had a small transparent part on it. When I opened it, I saw that the top part had a two hundred shilling note, but the rest of the envelope had a newspaper folded to make it look like it was full of money.

I can’t even start to explain how painful it was for me. I wanted to cry but then again, what good would that do? It was the kind of pain that eats you up from the inside and the best thing you can do for yourself is thank God you weren’t harmed and hope that their fortieth day would be coming soon.

A week later a really close friend of mine was robbed in a similar way Something to do with winning the lottery. We laughed about it for weeks, it was our little inside joke. It reminded us of how silly we were. She, however, warned me not to tell anyone about it. She only told me because I had a similar story and had opened up. I also came to learn that three weeks earlier another friend had been robbed in the same way. He was also ashamed and told me to keep it a secret. When I narrated the story to my other friend, she confessed about how her phone was stolen after she walked with a stranger claiming he was from the same campus as her. So even if I am stupid, I know I’m not the only one.

Maybe if we put our pride aside and start to have the conversation, we will eventually be able to track down these thieves. Check out this funny story about how a woman got robbed in a hilarious way – The Thief Who Became My Husband.  Also more about Scopolamine: The Mind Control Pill Used To Facilitate Crime In The Streets Of Nairobi.

Read more about how people are being conned in Nairobi – How I was conned.

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