A lovesick city banker has revealed how she was conned Sh700,000 by a super conman she met on an online dating site.
Millie Odhiambo, 39 says she met the conman, who introduced himself as a successful online businessman in March last year and within days, had fallen madly in love with him.
Three months later, the businessman requested her for a Sh700,000 loan purportedly to take his sick mother to India. He was gone. A city banker was conned out of Sh700,000 after answering an ad on a dating website.
Millie Odhiambo, aged 39, said the conman tricked her into giving him the money by claiming his mother was suffering from arthritis and needed special treatment in India.
“He had been going on and on about his mother needing surgery in India for her arthritis in July and that business was bad,” Millie revealed.
“It is true I had known him for a very short period but he had always delivered on his promises,” she said.
And she went on: “He once borrowed my car for a weekend and returned it safe and sound with a full tank. So when he said he would return the money once some of him debtors paid up, I believed him.” Millie joins a growing list of infatuated women in the city falling prey to conmen who are using dating sites to fleece them.
The conman had introduced himself as Tony, a 42-year-old businessmen with a string of shoe stores in the city.
They had first met on March 17, last year at Java, on Mama Ngina Street.
“He was funny, charming and had a very nice voice over the phone, I took to him almost immediately, but I did not show it,” Millie confessed.
Over the next two months, Tony showed her what he claimed were his three businesses and two houses, one in Embakasi and another in Nakuru. He also introduced her to his friends and employees, leaving her convinced he was the perfect match.
Last June 23 the man called her, asking her to lend him Sh700,000 she had borrowed from a bank to start a business to enable him to take his mother to India for further treatment.
Millie obliged, withdrew the money and handed it to him.
Rural home “He thanked me profusely and told me he was heading to his rural home in Kakamega to collect his mother for the trip. That is the last time I saw or heard from him,” she said.
It is then that Millie set out to trace the man, only to discover that all the businesses he claimed to own did not belong to him and that the business documents were all fake.
“When I went through his Facebook account after realising he had forgotten to log out on my computer, I discovered that he had conned another woman in Mombasa out of her car and that she was desperately trying to reach him too,” she said.
Millie continued: “It turns out he had been dating this lady, Margaret, a businesswoman in Mombasa for six months in 2013 by posing as a lawyer but using a different name. She had reported the matter to Changamwe police station but there was little they could do to help as the man was long gone.” The two women got in touch, counted their losses and reported the matter to Central police station but as it turned out the man did not exist as they knew him. “That last week of June was the worst week I had ever had. There was only so much the police could do when all I had was a picture on my phone. He had already moved out of his house in Embakasi,” she said.
How to handle online dates • Protect your finances: Ignore any request to send money, especially overseas or by wire transfer,– even if the person claims to be in an emergency.
• Guard your personal and online access information: Be careful about sharing personal information, such as your full name, phone number, email and address. You are in control of your online dating experience at all times .
• Always meet in public: Meet for the first time in a populated, public location – never in a private or remote location, and never at your date’s home or apartment.
• Stay in a public place It is best not to go back to your date’s home or bring them back to yours on the first date. If your date pressures you, end the date and leave at once.
• Tell a friend: Inform a friend or family member of your plans and when and where you’re going. If you own a mobile phone, make sure you have it with you.
• Stay sober: Keep a clear mind and avoid doing anything that would impair your judgment.
• Don’t accept lifts on day one: Just in case things don’t work out, you need to be in control of your own transport– even if you take a taxi.
• Keep personal items with you: If you’re drinking, keep your drink with you at all times.
Odhiambo: It is true I had known him for a very short period but he had always delivered on his promises”