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Conman gets taste of his own medicine

STUDIES
By | February 22nd 2010

By Kariuki Muthui

Recently I was searching for a house. But because I was just too lazy to pound the streets and knock on gates, I reached for my phone and the classified ads.

That is where I ran into a chap called Kimaru. Through a combination of confident talk and reverse psychology, he convinced me to meet him at 7am on a chilly morning at a block of flats next to the Aga Khan Hospital, so that he could rent me a house.

I got there 15 minutes late and did not find him. Because he had sounded no-nonsense on the phone I feared the worst. So I called. He answered with a sombre and gruff voice.

No he could not make it, he told me, but if I sent his driver Sh1,000 by M-Pesa for petrol, the driver would deliver the keys that would allow me to view the cheapest two bed roomed house in Parklands.

Then if I liked the house, I could keep the keys. The small matter of the Sh14,000 rent we would sort out later, like gentlemen. Money was not an issue for him, property tycoon that he is. And I should not worry about deposits for electricity or the water meter either. This we would sort out later as well.

Driver’s number

Suddenly he had to get off the phone, but he would SMS me the driver’s number who was also his caretaker. By the way, from here, I would deal with the driver. Goodbye and let’s talk later.

In a flash, I realised I was a jackass who had come all this way on a cold morning to be separated from a thousand bob.

So I walked over and spoke to the watchmen guarding the gates of flats. Yes, had heard of a man claiming to own a house in that building.

Once, some poor fellow whom Kimaru had artfully separated from his money even turned up with a set of keys claiming he had just acquired a two bed roomed house in the estate and would they let him in please?

But the fact is, not a single African owns any flat there. Now, in a country where the police are too lethargic to be of much help most of the time, you can do either of two things. You can shake your head and walk away, or you can seek some revenge.

Cock and bull

I sought revenge. Kimaru wouldn’t agree to meet me? Fine, then how about driving his hopes up all day and getting him to waste his credit?

I called Kimaru back and gave him a cock and bull story about my ATM, but said I was headed to the bank to sort it out right away.

In fact, I had decided not to deal with his driver. I would send him personally not only the Sh1,000, but a month’s deposit as well.

"Splendid!" Kimaru said. He looked forward to hearing from me. The next ten times Kimaru called to follow up on his money, I engaged him in a long conversation about everything.

I even gave him my plans for the living room and enquired whether it was okay if I threw a party there once in a while.

No problem, he said, but he wanted to know why I had not sent the money yet. Did I want him to give the house to someone else?

Die inside

Of course not, it’s this bank of mine. But not to worry, I should send the money in about 45 minutes. Every time I extended that deadline, I felt a little bit of him die inside. Finally, when the calls stopped coming I sent him a ‘Please call me, thank you" message. The idiot actually called. This time, however, his voice was wary… not strong, eager or gruff.

I told him to go to hell, that he was a shameless conman. The silence that followed was priceless.

The old Kimaru came roaring back. He burst into shocked laughter and gruffly told me I could go to hell as well.

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