My first encounter with con artists was in 2015 along the Kenyatta Avenue in Nakuru town. At the time, the first governor of the fast growing town that is aspiring for a city status had not began removing hawkers along the corridors of the buildings and in the streets. To say the town back then was a hub of activities especially on the streets as hawkers jostled for customers is not an understatement.
Halfway along the Kenyatta Avenue was a guy selling movies, and was easily identified from far off by his trademark hairstyle that was a hybrid between a box and a trimmed umbrella tree. His name was Kigen, and as is with members of Nilotic tribe persuasion, he was black. His skin was a tone deep black like the bottom of the cooking pot.
As happens when a new customer makes a stop to sample goods on display or make a purchase, any business savvy individual will engage the customer not only to make a sale but net a loyal customer in the process. And that’s how I ended as a repeat customer to his then spot of operation on the corridor just across the Family Bank branch along the town’s main street. I’m a consumer of historical themed movies and Kigen made a point of sourcing me the best ones for sampling during my twice a week visit to his stand.
Then the guy at one point became curious about me. He kept asking if I was a police officer as I have a taste of military looking shoes, though not boots. When his curiosity was satiated that I was dabbling in the media industry as a freelancer, I realized he began giving me discounts to every purchase made or allowed me to take the films I liked home for later repayment.
Little did I know he was strategizing on ways to rip me off.
And here it was how it went. One day I went and inquired a title of a movie he had notified me he was in possession of. He made a pretended search and mumbled something about misplacing it somewhere in the backstreet of Avenues Suites Hotel. He asked if I would please follow him to someone who was managing his ‘store’ on the said backstreet. I agreed and followed him and he took me to a room where a lady was burning CDs and a young guy packaging them in well labelled movie jackets. Kigen introduced the lady as his ‘sales agent’ and said she was in business of supplying all sorts of entertainment needs (Cds, DVDs, etc) to a host of his customers for eventual resale.
“In case you may need more historically themed content, feel welcome here,” he said after the introductions.
The lady was a Kikuyu with heavy makeup and bleached skin. She was dressed in that short skirt that she kept pulling down – it was too short to cover her ample fleshly thighs. She wore that blouse that revealed much of cleavage than it covered. She would seat in a way that would make any amorous male drool after her.
After the first visit encounter, I was to be referred to the back shop anytime I made a stop at Kigen’s spot. And the usual script that followed worked as follows: first, Kigen would make a pretended search for a movie title I was requesting. He ensured he took time ‘searching’ so as not to raise any suspicion. Then he would call the ‘saleslady’ and ask if she had that title with her. Then he would ask me to visit his backstreet shop to check it out there.
On my third referral there, the lady began asking me a host of questions. She seemed to have known something about me – based on whatever Kigen told her. She began gaining my trust in a slow but calculated way.
When I checked with her shop on my one of umpteenth visit, she was in company of a lady who was a spitting reflection of her. They had long faces and it was clear from their countenance something was not well. You could say they were in a mournful mood.
The ‘saleslady’ introduced her sister to me who she said was a high school teacher. They spoke a bit to me of a ‘tragedy’ in their family asking if I could bail them with some cash which would be refunded after two weeks. The timing was perfect as it was a few days after the end of the month.
The heartrending story they spun would have melted any stony heart. Without knowing, I saw myself going out and withdrawing some money and loaning the pair. Mistake number one: I did not draw an agreement with them and call like one or two witnesses to append their signatures.
After the agreed timeframe, I made the visit to the shop this time to recover the loan advanced. The ‘saleslady’ was in company of a man she introduced to me as her brother who was a ‘branch manager with a local bank.’ He was, as per her words, in ‘a bit of difficulty and would I please assist him with a similar amount I assisted them earlier with?’
I began sensing things here. I excused myself promising to check back in a few minutes and went to see Kigen over conduct of his ‘saleslady’. To my surprise, Kigen was in the loop and attempted to talk me out of pushing for a refund. In the heat of our argument, he said the ‘saleslady’ was actually his wife and I forfeited any chance of recovering my money by refusing to advance her brother the loan he requested.
“Even if you go to police, we’re going to prove you were seducing my wife. Get out of here!” he tried to put me off.
Though I did file a report, the police officer handling the matter was much compromised and claimed that in lack of any written agreement or supporting evidence like an electronical financial transaction, my case was dead on arrival. That was how I was ‘Kigenized’ or defrauded.