Romance scammers on the loose [Courtesy, Shutterstock]

Since the year began, several of women have died in the suspected hands of would be romantic partners.

Femicide. A term that describes the crime of killing women, girls, or females in general because of their gender and/or sex.

On January 3, Socialite Starlet Wahu Mwangi was found murdered in an Airbnb in Nairobi’s South B Estate. Wahu’s body was discovered in the Airbnb where she had checked in with a man believed to be her boyfriend. The chilling events unfolded when Wahu and her suspected murderer entered the Airbnb.

The watchman at the apartment reported seeing John Matara, alleged to be Wahu’s companion, fleeing with bloodstained clothes, triggering an urgent response from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DC1).

Soon after, detectives apprehended Matara, 34, and his friend, Anthony Nyongesa, 25, at Mbagathi Hospital. Matara had sought treatment there for minor injuries. Investigations suggest a possible serial sexual offender operating within a criminal ring targeting women through dating sites and social media apps, using blackmail as leverage.

 Starlet Wahu [Courtesy, files, Standard]

“The DCI commits to painstakingly investigate this brutal murder of such a young Kenyan. The public is cautioned to beware of individuals disguising themselves as lovers, but turning out to be perpetrators of the heinous crime,” read the statement on the ongoing investigations.

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Following the brutal incident, the internet has been awash with scores of women sharing accounts of their encounters with sexual predators, with some alleging they have had encounters with the same man.

A number have narrated how they met men on dating sites and social media platforms, some of whom ended up being sex predators. One spoke about how she met a man on a dating site and how he used to send her money before they eventually met.

She did an HIV test and was comfortable meeting him at an Airbnb. Online, he had convinced her he was after genuine romance. However, to her shock, the man removed a knife and demanded Sh50,000 from her.

Panicking, she called friends and managed to raise the cash. She was later rescued from the Airbnb after the man left her chained on the bed after forcing her to do unprintable acts. Indeed, cases of men who disguise themselves as well-meaning lovers only to turn into predators have been on the rise.

It is the fact captured in two songs recently released by Australian-based Kenyan singer Lucy Musa, who also says is a victim of a romance scam.

Uwii and Duck, the two Amapiano tunes whose message is centred on the artiste’s romantic scam story hit the airwaves a week ago as the Wahu murder case made headlines. Lucy says she was hurt by a former lover, leading to depression that got her to quit music and relocate to Australia seven years ago.

“Sio wanaume tu hukuliwa fare. Even women get scammed. I was in this relationship with a man whom I thought was genuine. Our age difference was two years. We were together for five and a half years. He said he was my boyfriend yet he had other women”.

 Lucy Musa [Courtesy, files Standard]

I was in and out of the country, and it was easy for me to get caught up in this while thinking I was investing at home. This was a romantic scam. I would encourage any woman out there who has suffered the same not to be shy about it. My mum used to warn me about him but I never took her advice.” 

And just last week, another musician shared with Eve screenshots of messages from a man who has been trying to scam her.

The man ‘prophesied’ to her that she was the “Chosen one of God” and that she would soon be appointed to a high government position before buying off a leading private firm where she would be co-director. And all this for what? To lure her into his life for sexual and financial gains.

“I can’t believe how one can be so perverted. I can’t believe how one can be so persistent with a romantic scam,” she said.

Mostly, romance scams occur when fraudsters create fake personas and pretend to have a romantic interest in someone online. They use manipulation tactics and create that feeling of mutual trust as they aim at conning the victim of their money.

They are ‘smart’ and in most incidences consistent with their lies and will hardly stop until they attain their con plan, big or small. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.