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BEWARE: New Con Trick Targeting Car Owners 
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BEWARE: New Con Trick Targeting Car Owners 

Fraudsters have devised a relatively new con trick that is targeting car owners, particularly those in the process of selling SUVs through online marketplaces. 

Money254.co.ke has established that the trick starts off with the scammer contacting the target - ideally, a car owner who has listed their vehicle for sale. 

The scammers use various ways to earn the customer’s trust - mostly pretending to be an expatriate in urgent need of the vehicle. To earn trust and compromise the seller’s objectivity, they may indicate an intention to pay the full asking price without bargaining. 

In most cases, the scammer will indicate an intention to make the full payment on the same day he or she calls. 

Establishing Trust

As per the routine script, the purported expatriate will be coming to you from common off-road tourist destinations - the Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu, etc. 

To build trust, they will even share the registration vehicle of their “hired car” they will be travelling in. 

After two or three hours, they will call you in panic and claim to have hit some cows and say that the herdsmen are threatening to attack them in reiteration. 

At this stage, they will share photos of a car bearing the number plates that they previously shared with you. The car will have visible damage on the exterior and dead livestock will be lying on the road. 

The scammer will ask for your prayers and advice on how to handle the angry crowd. 

The next step in the play comes after about 30 minutes when they will claim that they have come up with an agreement to pay the herdsmen some money - usually between Ksh10,000 and Ksh150,000. 

British Accent 

Then the execution comes in. Since they do not have the amount in cash or on mobile money, they ask if you can help them by sending the money - either directly to their phone or to one of the herdsmen. They promise to return the money when making the payment for your car. 

If the target sends the money, the con trick becomes successful, and the number is immediately switched off. 

A target who sought anonymity indicated that he first learned of the trick in 2018 when selling a Nissan X-trail on a popular e-commerce site. 

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“The only reason I didn't send the money was because I did not have it. The lady who called me had a British accent and I really felt sorry for her. But I was in financial distress which saved me from the con.

“Later on I was telling a friend about the sad incident and they told me it was definitely a con trick since he had an exactly similar experience where he lost Ksh20,000,” he told Money254.co.ke. 

Same Number Plates

The trick appears to have been enhanced and mainstreamed in recent months. A car blogger had an encounter with scammers while selling a Mitsubishi Pajero. 

Interestingly, multiple social media users were able to predict the full script after the blogger shared the first message from the fraudsters. 

The feedback from victims and past targets indicated that the “seller” is usually driving the same “hired” vehicle. A spot check by Money254.co.ke established that the number plates shared are those of a vehicle owned by a Kenyan politician. 

The politician’s car was previously involved in an accident and photos were shared by the media. The accident photos, which are also available online, are used by the scammers to make the “cows accident” convincing. 

Money254.co.ke is committed to helping Kenyans make the most out of their money. In this regard, we will be publishing a weekly series on the tricks scammers use to steal from Kenyans. We believe raising awareness protects future potential victims. Have you been a victim or a target of these scams? Tell us your story by emailing us on info@money254.co.ke

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Tony Mukere is the branded content lead at Money254. He is a trained journalist with a passion for impactful storytelling. Before joining Money254.co.ke, he worked as an editor at Kenyans.co.ke, and as a reporter at Pulselive.co.ke. Connect with Mukere on Twitter.

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