WARNING: These are REAL incidents that have happened to people. We choose to place you as the main character so as to show you how easy it is to fall prey to such circumstances. Remember ROLES CHANGE, SKILLS EVOLVE but SCRIPT remains SAME. So IGNORANCE of the probability of such occurrences ever happening to you is entirely at your own DISCRETION.
This post especially applies to tourists. Like most of us will attest, it’s a really awful experience being a stranger in a foreign environment. Let alone the absence of familiar faces around or the lack of knowledge regarding rules applicable in that environment, it’s downright frustrating to be faced with language barrier constraints- to say the least.
It is this naivety that ingenious fraudsters exploit in-order to cash in on unsuspecting tourists.
Take the below scenario for instance;
You have finally landed at one of Kenya’s major international airports after a long tiresome flight from let us say New Orleans and within minutes of alighting, you have somehow managed to find your way to the City Centre via taxi.
Upon reaching the City Centre, armed with a detailed map of the city, some loose change and digital camera, you decide to kill sometime by sauntering about as you take in the scenery before you finally check in at your hotel which you had previously booked in advance.
As you are busy fiddling with your camera, a tiny hand grasps you by the sleeve of your shirt. You are momentarily startled but you gain composure when you realize that it is only a child.
Clasping a dirty bottle of sniffing glue in his mouth with one hand and the other one outstretched towards you, he manages to mumble out, ‘’Saidia maskini- Help me’’. Although you do not know what he has just said, just by his outstretched hand gesture, you can assume he wants some money.
The sight of his tattered up attire which does not do much to hide his partially exposed backside and his pair of battered up sneakers whose soles are just a single thread away from giving up sparks a saintly flame inside you which you thought never existed.
You reach into your pocket for some spare change and hand it to him. He delightfully receives it all the while a huge smile plastered on his sooty face. ‘’Asante Sana-Thank you,’’ he says as he runs off into the distance. Minutes later you are confronted by two (2) men dressed in suits. They identify themselves as City Council officials and tell you that you have violated one of the city’s laws.
Further inquiry into which laws you have broken, they tell you that it is illegal to hand out money to street urchins because by doing that you encourage their drug use and the penalty will be a fine of kshs3000($38) or spend a week in jail.
You attempt to evade the fine or jail time by saying that you had no idea that it was illegal but they claim that they only uphold the law but they are willing to let you off the hook for half the amount as they begin to lead you towards a parked car.
You are reluctant and you begin to weigh in the options of the inconvenience caused by doing jail time or paying the full fine and you decide to part with half the amount as they requested and you apologize for breaking the ‘law’.
Ladies and gentlemen if this has ever happened to you, then hands down you have been CONNED!
Modus Operandi (Mode of Operation)
• The fraudsters target naïve looking tourists. A map in hand clearly indicates that you are unfamiliar with your surroundings.
• Some may use street urchins as their accomplices
• They provide options that ensure you will ONLY choose the one that contains the trap that have set for you.