Simon of the Netflix Tinder Swindler fame seemed to be a master of over-the-top romantic gestures. I mean who has their first date on a private jet? Looking at the stories of the Kenyan swindlers, the men also seemed to add another element to the list, they all claimed to be ‘saved’ men who constantly posted verses from the Bible.
Basically, the goal of the men was to create a personality that women would feel safe with both emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially. And once the women were hooked line and sinker, they created an emergency that only the unsuspecting victim could help with financially.
The irony of all the love swindler stories from Netflix and here in Kenya is that his victims were all educated, exposed and well-to-do women. Which begs the question, why then were they susceptible to the con?
Rose Kemunto, a financial analyst and content creator, says that between 2015 and 2017 she lost Sh1.2 million savings; and an additional Sh600,000 in terms of a vehicle to a man she met on Facebook and started a relationship with after about four months of getting to know him online.
Rose says that when she realised what had happened it was a tough season of recovery. Now she has healed and is in a better place, she chose to share her story so she could prevent it from happening to someone else.
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“I learnt so much from that experience, and I wanted to share the red flags women should look out for so that I can help someone else. To begin with, she says women should always follow their gut instincts, and not believe someone is a good man just because they present themselves to be God-fearing. The first time he asked me for money, I felt very uneasy and did not give him. He asked me many more times before I finally agreed to give him money and even then, we had to go to a lawyer and draft a legal agreement he would pay me back,” she says.
The financial analyst says that even when you are in a relationship, it is important to keep your family and friends close as they provide an important accountability structure.
“From the moment my two closest friends met him they did not like him. But he said that they were not good friends and were too worldly because they went out, and because he was a good Christian man, he wanted us to stay home more. I now realise that when someone wants to swindle you, they separate you from your support system so you only have them as a point of reference as it makes you more susceptible to their manipulation,” she says.
Rose adds that women should always separate their money from love affairs, especially when they are dating.
“Always have clear boundaries between your relationship and money. When you are in a relationship your partner should not ask you for money, especially because he is a man. He should first ask his friends, family and lending institutions. Do not believe you are the only one who can lend him money,” she says.
Cynthia Wambui Otieno, a marriage and relationship therapist says love swindlers are quick and intentional to establish intimacy as a way to blind their victims.
“They establish trust immediately. They have researched and sell to a woman what she wants. Basically, a woman’s idea of what love looks like based on what society has thrown down her throat through fairy tales and Rom-Coms,” she says.
Cynthia adds, “Love swindlers milk the saviour mentality. They create a false image of safety through their social media presence and false claim to wealth using their posts and pictures. I mean, every girl wants that knight in shining armour, just like every fairy tale from Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty.”
Mucha Mlingo, an emotional intelligence coach, on her part, warns women should create clear boundaries between money and love.
“You should not loan money to a man who is not your husband. Outside marriage, why should you give money to someone? In fact, the best advice I can give is that you should never give out money you cannot afford to lose. Be clear and respect your money; after all, you have worked hard for it. Put clear boundaries around your money and what you choose to do with it.”
She advises women to ensure they first love themselves and heal before they enter into a relationship. “The best way to have a relationship is to first start with self-love. It is important to love yourself before you can love another person. So do not go out there looking for love until you have accepted and learnt to love yourself as you are.”
Mucha says women should realise that apart from having a relationship they should also be intentional about growing their friendships and having a social life. That it is dangerous when a woman’s relationship is her everything.