It’s been a while since I crossed paths with a con. And then it happened two weeks ago. This man noticed me in a social function, publicly acknowledged me as an outstanding and promising young man. He behaved like he knew and understood me well – better than the friends who I accompanied to the event. And that’s how he had prepared a foundation to try and Rob me softly.
The man began by showing how much we had in common. He showed me how we shared ancestral blood, and how, according to him, he was God-sent to help me get the things I desired most: a beautiful South African wife, a job with the United Nations and first person contact with the who-is who in East Africa. Did I really desire these things, or was he simply enticing me?
He presented enough credibility to have an unsuspecting person believe his legitimacy. According to him, he ran a faith-based organization in South Africa and was currently running another one in Tanzania. He mentioned that his wife was Tanzanian and from the family of the former president of Tanzania (the late Magufuli). He added that he was close friends with an East African Assembly nominated member from Kenya, and that he had foreseen how his Excellency President Ruto would be the next president of Kenya. He showed credibility and his profile was impressive. The only caveat to his self proclamation was one – what exactly was he doing in this village? How could he be this big and important and yet couldn’t afford to.pay for hotel accommodation, or afford a car to ferry him around the village? I think I and my friends were lucky to be weekend guests in the town because a local villager would not be doubting – they would be seeing how privileged they were to have such an important and humble man be in their village.
The man had made me a center of attention in the small social function. As a close ‘associate’ of the guest of honour in the fund raising event, he kept referring to me as this outstanding and responsible young man who will go far in life. He commented on how my dressing was decent, and how my communication was precise. I wasn’t comfortable being his object of interest in his speech. Being publicly pampered with praises, by a man I had never met before, and in a village I had visited for the first time must have been intended to create in me a sense of grandiosity. We all crave for attention, love praises and desire to feel more important than we really are. It is a psychological need that Robert Greene presents so we’ll in his book ‘The Laws of Human Nature.’
My friend did apologize for this unfortunate encounter, but I told him that he didn’t need to – both I and him didn’t expect to encounter this man in our visit to his village. You see this man had a script. It’s a script used to dupe unsuspecting people and he didn’t know that both me and my friend have encountered his likes but in different contexts. In his script, the man used South Africa, Tanzania and senior political leaders in East Africa because a villager would be unable to verify such information. This man described how I desired a beautiful wife and an international organization because these are the things any young man would desire (Aristotle once said that Youth is easily deceived because they are quick to hope)
We agreed to expose the man in a wise way so that the villagers would not fall prey to this conman. He had already convinced a respectable man in the village of his credibility and he was now meeting villagers in private to hear of their needs and provide them with counsel of an extra ordinary man. I took a bold step to meet him like the villagers and get to the root of his intentions. I wasn’t scared because it wasn’t my first time encountering a con – spend a few months in Nairobi and you’ll encounter this breed of humans and if unlucky, lose precious possessions to them.An
I went to meet the man. He showed me how successful I would be in the future and how he was key to my next breakthrough. He claimed he would help me get a beautiful South African lady in order to be successful (he didn’t know I already have a life partner). He claimed he would help me get a good job (he didn’t know I was working in a reputable institution in Kenya). He claimed he would connect me to who is who in Kenya (he didn’t know that ‘I knew people’). He tried getting information about me – just a little personal detail so that he could help me. I knew too well the trick and so I chose to act like a dumb person – someone who needs all the guidance he could afford. He must have assumed I was more vulnerable than I seemed when I didn’t seem to have a profile and this exposed his weakness – he wanted money. He wanted me to give him money so that he can go ahead and make ‘all my dreams’ come true. And to wrap my session, I told him we could keep in touch and gave him five hundred shillings. He was so happy about the little token, gave me his number and I walked out feeling sorry for people that have previously fallen for his script. I and my friend explained this man’s trickery to the respectable man and hoped the village would be wise enough to not fall for his bait.
Being smart is not enough to save you from conmen. They prey on our weaknesses. They praise our strengths and make us appear to be better than we really are. They present themselves as the saviour sent to deliver us from pain, embarrassments and weaknesses we are too ashamed to admit in the public. They make us trust them so that they can attack us and exploit us. They are people who reap where they don’t show. They sell fake hope, enjoying other people’s sweat.
As always, lead your life to reach your goals; love deliberately.
I think to some extent, he still won as he got your attention and your money. The essence of a con is more on the reward and less on the process. The process is a means to an end. The primary goal being you giving them something.
This is why once a con is discovered, the con is changed or tweaked but the goal doesn’t change.
Yes, he got something from me, but he could have misled so many unsuspecting community members. We gave him something small as a means to exposing him. We’re grateful that he left the village three days later
I agree, being smart is not enough to save you from a conman. A common misconception is that they can only trick the uneducated. But even the most intellectual can have their desires exploited.