A number of women have swindled men for so long, for some, it is a career [Photo: Shutterstock]

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman who loves you will never ask for fare when coming to visit you. But still, in urban Kenya, men with poor sense of judgement keep sending fare and keep getting fleeced.

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It is simple: You meet a woman online. You start chatting, then flirt, exchange nudes where necessary, and before you know it, you are planning a date. But the girl is out of town, and being a gentleman, you decide to send her bus fare. Then she is on her way, you are chatting, and along the way, she tells you her phone is ‘dying’, she wants to reserve some charge to call you when she arrives.

That is how her phone goes off for good. You get angry, checking Twitter if there has been an accident on her route to your place. Often, there is none. Sadly, not all men know these simple truths. In the last two years, accusations of “kukula fare” have been on the rise, yet there are men who still suffer from this blind trust.

It has become a common joke on social media, especially ahead of Valentine’s Day. Last December, Nahashon, a lecturer at a university in Nairobi, planned to spend time with a woman he knew very well. She was a high school teacher in Mombasa. “We agreed on the date and the amount of fare I was to send. I sent Sh5,000 and she assured me that she would come. On the agreed day, she said she had a class, and pushed her coming to the weekend.

Asked for a refund

“She didn’t show up. When I called after a few days, she accused me of talking to her when it is convenient. That I do not love her. I only want her for sex…” When he asked for a refund, the woman got dramatic and he decided to ignore her and move on.

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Richard, 38, a Nairobi-based accountant, met an unmarried mother online and chatted with her until they became friends and decided to date. After a few months of back and forth, he sent her Sh3,000 as fare from Bomet to Nairobi. He also sent money for the househelp and shopping for the child. “She was beautiful and quite tempting and on phone, she sounded so genuine. But she blocked my number after receiving cash,” Gitau says, adding that he has become smarter.

The man who revenges

Dennis has found a way of exacting revenge on any woman who ‘eats his fare’. “If you eat my fare, I will be patient, and will keep sending until you give in, then I will have my revenge.” Before he changed tack, he used to send women money so they could book the bus or the flights for themselves.

“Women in Mombasa and Kisumu have received money a number of times and failed to book the flight. In fact, even a Ugandan has ever eaten my fare,” he says. “Eventually when they show up, I take them to an expensive hotel where we spend a night, and leave them there with no fare, and sometimes without even paying for hotel. When they become a nuisance, I block their numbers. I always tell them to use the fare they ate.”

When we asked women why they eat fare, their responses were varied, but with a common line: “It is men who insist on sending”.

Few were remorseful

“I have ‘eaten’ fare from so many men, including an army officer,” says Christine, adding, “I have eaten upwards of Sh50,000 if I were to count every coin that was sent to me and I did not show up. A man once sent me Sh5,000 to go to the Coast. After weighing my options, I withdrew the money and blocked his line.”

She says, she never asks money from her crushes or men she loves. But there was a time she got scared when an army officer sent her fare to visit him in Nairobi from Kisumu. “I kept updating him on my location and he knew I would arrive by 4pm. I switched off my phone and turned it on 48 hours later. He threatened to track me down. “He even used the police and I had to change my number and also start using a simple phone,” says Christine.

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Pauline only ‘eats fare’ from men she doesn’t want anything to do with. “Most actually insist even when we tell them not to, so what should I do?” she asks.  Pauline says some men rarely do a background check on her. They send money without knowing who she really is. “They send money for your needs then they request you to meet them. Then a woman realises the man is her father’s age, and eats the fare. He gets angry but after a while, he comes back,” she says.

She also says that when they insist on sending fare a second time, she tells them not to because she will not make it.

It is not only women who eat fare

There are men who do the same too when they get money from women. Rebecca says a man she trusted ate not only her fare but borrowed money from her then went missing. “He was a smooth talker in perfect English and was very good at dropping names. So, I sent him an air ticket to fly from Kisumu to Nairobi.  He even asked me for money for the hotel and promised to refund once he got to Nairobi.” However, he never arrived.

10. Rules of Sending Fare

  1. Have a ‘refund on arrival’ policy. Only pay once she has arrived.
  2. Don’t send fare to online strangers. Some of them are catfishes. Could be a man with stolen photos.
  3. Send an amount you are willing to lose.
  4. Send a bus or air ticket instead of money.
  5. If nearby, request or send a ride for her.
  6. Don’t act desperate.
  7. If she is called Carol, don’t send.
  8. If she lives a city away, or worse in the village, she will not come.
  9. Only send money to someone with an established online profile who is afraid of losing something. Not someone with no online traffic, such that they can disappear and create another account.
  10. Always know, you may send money, only for her to travel and go visit her real man.