There’s a hostel crisis looming, as we explained in this article. As a result, students who are still at home and don’t have hostels are panicking. In the rush to get hostels that are near the school while they are still available, comrades are losing money to con-men in the name of “booking the last room in a hostel” or something similar. We urge comrades to be on high alert and to refrain from sending money to strangers. You’d think it is first years who are being conned but so far, it’s continuing students who have been the victims. Below is the story of a third year student who lost sh 9500 at the beginning of this week.
Gladwell is a third year student in Mechatronic Engineering. She lives in Catholic hostels, even though she has not yet come back to school. I wanted to at least change her name while giving the story of what happened to her but she insisted that I use her real name. She wants people to know that this story is real. She wants you to take it seriously and know that such a thing can happen to anyone, no matter how woke you think you are.
Her troubles started when she visited a website called Mitula and searched for “1 bedroom apartments in Nyeri town.” Earlier on, she had traveled from Nairobi to Nyeri to do house hunting. She had even identified some potential places in King’ong’o and Town. But since people started coming back to school, she felt that the vacancies that were within her budget were getting fewer and fewer by they day. So she did the search online and found some houses. She called several numbers that were listed on the website. None of them had vacancies.
But eventually, she called a number and to her joy, she was told that there was a vacant one bedroom in King’on’go where the rent was sh 7,500. It was the extension of a main house, which she was told belonged to a lecturer from Kimathi. She was told that the lecturer’s daughter used to live there but after she got married, she left it vacant. It even had wi-fi which was paid for. Furthermore, it had continuous hot water supply and a hot shower.
Gladwell obviously liked the house. But she didn’t just send the money right away. She told the woman she was talking to on phone that she would send her friend (who was going to be her roommate) to go check out the house. The woman then gave Gladwell the number of a woman called “Shosho.” Shosho was apparently the one who had the final say on who gets the house. Gladwell was advised to talk to her nicely because the house was “very much on demand.”
She did exactly that. Shosho told her that she was making a very good choice because the house even had a bed. There was also a gas cylinder in the store so if she didn’t have one, she just had to tell the house-help of the main house to get it. There was only one catch. There was a relative who wanted to stay in the same house so Gladwell was told to book by paying the deposit. Shosho insisted that, “si ati ata anataka pesa.” She only wanted Gladwell to prove that she was serious about the house. She would then start paying the rent from next month.
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At that point, since Gladwell had already sent her friend to go check out the house, she agreed to send Shosho sh 7,500 via M-Pesa. The friend was at King’ong’o waiting to be picked up. After sending the money, Shosho sent Gladwell the number of the house-help, who was to show her friend the house. Gladwell sent the number to her friend. The friend called and was told to wait for someone to come pick her up. Shortly afterwards, the house-help called the friend and said that the lawyer had refused to part with the keys of the house because a signed agreement had been made that required both the deposit and rent to be paid first.
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All along, Gladwell was confident that she was not being conned. At the back of her mind, she thought that if she discovered she had been conned, she would just use the M-Pesa transaction reversal feature to get her money back. Initially, she wanted to send the money to the bank but Shosho apparently had an ongoing construction and had taken a bank overdraft so sending money to the bank would not help. She and her friend had resolved not to send the money before seeing the house but Gladwell , after talking to Shosho, had become convinced that she was genuine. Shosho had even proceeded to call her, “My daughter” in Kikuyu. The shosho had said that she would never lie to Gladwell or steal from her because it would be wrong in front of her grandchildren and in front of God.
After Gladwell’s friend encountered problems with the house-help, Gladwell called Shosho. Shosho graciously offered to resolve the issue since it was, after all, her house. However, shortly after, she called Gladwell and said that the “Mzee” had refused and was insisting that all the money should be paid in full before the house-help could be allowed to show the house.
Gladwell told Shosho to first get the house-help to show her friend the house. At that point, Shosho said that she was even prepared to send back Gladwell’s sh 7,500 but if she wanted the house, the only way was to pay both the deposit and the rent.
Gladwell really wanted the house but she had no money. Shosho told her to send what she had and that she (Shosho) would convince Mzee to let her pay later. So Gladwell sent sh 2,000.
To her surprise, her friend in King’ong’o told her that the house-help still wouldn’t show the house. On calling Shosho, she was told that the only option was to pay the full amount. And that was when it hit Gladwell that she had been conned. She asked Shosho to send back her money. Shosho acted shocked and then went silent. Gladwell tried calling her, only for her calls to be ignored. She texted her, begging her to return at least part of the money but her efforts bore no fruit. A short time later, all the numbers could not be reached.
She tried her back up plan, which was reversing the transaction but it turned out that the money had been withdrawn and that Safaricom couldn’t reverse the transaction.
The numbers that Gladwell was dealing with were, 0728441246 (the number she initially made contact with), 0729366189 (Shosho) and 0728835427 (househelp)
By the time this article is being written, it’s a couple of days since Gladwell was conned and she is yet to get her money back. The school security has intervened in her case. They helped her write a statement and it is expected that the DCI will help bring the criminals involved to book.
Let’s learn from this story.
This matter is more serious than we think. Someone else was conned earlier this week. Read the story here. If you have a story you would like to share with us, or if you would like to reach us for advertising, contact 0703154483.
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