Watch Out

Marto got swagger. Who can blame him? He’s in campus doing Mechatronics Engineering. For those of you not in the know, it’s the hardest engineering course. Well, I don’t know about rocket science but am sure it’s pretty close. Only the brightest get into the course.

He was walking one day in town, probably listening to music on his phone. He met these two shabbily dressed gentlemen. I don’t know how he agreed to listen to their story. Perhaps because they flashed some green.

They had some cash in American dollars. They said that during the Kikambala Hotel bomb blast (the one targeting Israeli nationals in coast), they had recovered some American dollars. Since he looked smart (I told you he got swagger), he would not look suspicious changing the dollars to Kenyan shillings. He agreed to help them out, with a commission, naturally.

They had about 100 or so dollars in cash. He walked into the bank and came out with about Kshs. 10,000. They gave him his Kshs. 1000. The easiest money ever made.
They were not done with him. They told him they had a stash somewhere, and would he be so kind as to check it out? So they took him their house in some place like Kitengela. He counted the dollars himself. He estimated the value to be close to 150K. with his mathematically unchallenged mind, he quickly calculated his commission. It would be enough to keep him inebriated the entire semester.

They were willing to let him take it, trust him to exchange it and return their fair share to them. But in this world, who can blame them for wanting a little security? How about 10K? Marto is just like any other student in a university in Kenya. Broke. But how could he lose this opportunity?
Marto was lucky. He met Ben, his friend and classmate just from withdrawing his student loan cash. He convinced him that in two hours, he would return his cash plus interest. Never mind Ben was going to do his shopping and cover part of his school fees. He thought about it…could it wait two hours? Plus he would get some more, when has anyone ever had enough money? So he counted clean notes (don’t you just love crispy new notes), ten of them, into Marto’s hand.

He should have guessed it could not be so easy. The guys had changed their minds. They said 10K is a bit too little as security for 150K. Marto started to panic. He even thought about selling his Safaricom shares. He is one of those who is waiting for the price of Safcom shares to hit the roof. He suddenly remembered his state of the art phone. That phone does everything a computer can do. A cool thing about it is, you can open multiple windows on its opera mini, minimize them to do other phonily functions e.t.c. He gave it to them and told them to trust him.

They trusted him alright. But Marto was laughing at them behind their backs. Ha! How dare they trust him…how naïve could they be? He was not planning on giving them a dollar’s worth of the money. He planned to make a getaway with them. Of course he checked the paper bag they gave him, but am sure all he was seeing is green and $$. He had initially counted the money himself. Smiling confidently, he walked out with swagger.

He lined up at the forex bureau. He was feeling good. Looking around, he saw no trace of the shabby guys. He reached the counter and whipped out the cash. He peeled off the rubber band. He took off the top dollar and gasped. His heart almost stopped beating. He took out the next bundle, same story. His hands were cold and shaking. The top, a dollar bill. The bottom, a dollar bill. The middle…green paper. I don’t mean green money, I mean literally, green paper.

Who’s laughing now? 10K borrowed from his friend! His state-of-the-art phone!

He just got into a matatu and went home.

Careful, the conmen could be eyeing you next. Don’t think you are too bright for them. After all, Marto is a mechatronics student.

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6 Responses

  1. Thanks for the heads-up.

  2. This reminds me about a column I used to read in NATION some years back, “When the deal is too good….”
    Stupidy has no boundary n doesn’t depend on wat course one is taking.
    Remember the Prof who was conned to fly for some non-existent gems in West Africa only to be abducted….

    Igna don’t patronize, these guys can con anyone.

  3. Well that is is reality of life in this part of the world. This conmanship has now even extended to cases of sexual violence, where a parent is conned by this nice looking people from urban areas of how they will assist their children only for the children to be sold to bothels where they are continously abused thus making them vulnerable to HIV, STIs and pregnancy.

    Lets empower our children with knowledge in accordance with their evovling capacities.

    Don’t forget empowering the adults too…

  4. yeah, have heard of those Dollar swindlers. Crazy.

    And people still fall for them..

  5. Tell me it is fiction.If not, then we now see Nairobi,again, in its colours!

    True story….I guess cons have gotten better.

  6. maybe that chap isnt as sharp as his course suggests…rule one: no one owes you jack; no one

    You can be sharp and still be conned…

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