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How prize scam racketeers are ripping off Nairobians of their hard-earned cash

You must have spotted this vehicle, at one time or the other. Often, it will be parked at some corner street in downtown Nairobi, more so in the morning hours when many Nairobians are either heading to work or are already going about their businesses.

Nothing in particular stands out about it, apart from its haphazard branding and the crowd of men and women who are always milling around it.


The Toyota Noah (reg no. KBL 247X) with the branding of Sunrise Global Tec. Communication has become synonymous with a prize scam whose architects continue to swindle many unsuspecting city dwellers.

The crowd around the vehicle usually pose as ‘sales agents’ but ideally are tasked with doing the dirty work of luring their unsuspecting victims by peddling scratch cards which they explain, to whoever cares to listen, come with various ‘free’ prizes.

But there is always a catch. Once the prize ‘won’ has been revealed, the ‘winner’ is required to pay a small fee before being taken to the vehicle to redeem it.

And that’s when you’ll get conned. If you are lucky enough you’ll end up with a fake product whose value is much lower that the cash you’ve paid.

But on most cases you’ll be taken round in circles as the sales agent who first engaged you melts into the crowd.

The favourite spot for this vehicle- from where these scammers operate – is Ambassadeur Hotel’s taxi yard, the corner of Latema Road and Tom Mboya Street, outside Odeon Cinema and also at Moi Avenue’s Railways Roundabout.

The taxi operators at Ambassadeur Hotel say they’ve repeatedly complained about these fraudsters but no assistance has been forthcoming from the authorities.


They’ve even attempted to kick them out of the location but they fraudsters keep coming back.

According to unconfirmed reports, the racketeers seems to enjoy protection from the police who always turn the other way.

Along the sames streets, there is also another con game that thrives. In street parlance its called mchezo was “pata potea.”

This game involves players wedging their cash on the ‘right’ card from a collection of three placed facing downwards on a makeshift table.

It seems like an easy way to make or double you cash. Right? Wrong!

The gamblers who run this trade will let you win the first view rounds until that point which you feel confident enough to wedge a bigger amount of cash.

That’s when you get swindled.

If it happens, you’d better just walk away because if try to challenging the scammers you’ll find yourself surrounded by half a dozen intoxicated street urchins who don’t give a hoot about clobbering you senseless and robbing of whatever valuables you have.

It’s either pure greed or Nairobians are just too gullible and ignorant of the devious schemes of these streetwise scammers.