How I was conned: My husband can’t know I lost this much

They say you are not a true Nairobian until you have been conned. A woman shares how a smooth and sleek con artist effortlessly relieved them of their money.

Grace Ruto*

There is bus stop in Rongai where Grace, who is a teacher and a land seller, boards a matatu every morning. Occasionally, private motorists pick up people and charge them the same amount as matatus would charge.

In 2018, Grace got into such a car. The driver was the chatty type. " He said his name was Ben and struck up a conversation right away and even asked for my number. We exchanged numbers. He was quite the charmer."

A week later, the Ben called her. She had not saved his number on her phone.

“He acted like he was hurt that I had not saved his number,” Grace says. Ben needed Grace to do something for him.

 He needed Grace to pick up some ball bearings from someone and he would pick them from her once he was back in Rongai.  Grudgingly, she accepted. Ben then called Grace and requested her to give the delivery man Sh15,000 for the goods and he would refund Grace the money.

“Usually, I am not that stupid, but there is something these guys do to you, because I agreed to it,” she explains.

Ben wasn't done asking for favours. He asked her to pick more ball bearings from a certain lady and requested Grace to pay the lady. He said he would pick up the supplies the following day. This lady somehow managed to convince Grace to invest in the ball bearings business because they were quite the hot sellers. And so, Grace gave the lady Sh 150,000 and in return got a bag of the bearings.

" I was ready to make a business out of selling these spare parts that were very marketable."

But the following day, Ben didn't show up and calls to him dropped. At the local hardware, she found out that the ball bearings she had received were worth Sh10,000 and were not even in high demand.

“I have since learned that it is a large syndicate that involves Chinese nationals and some Kenyans, and they have swindled many other people,” she says.

To date, she hasn't told her husband how she lost her savings.

" He still thinks the Sh150,000 is in my account. He would be very angry if he found out."