Sauti Sol's Bien Narrates Losing Ksh1M to Conman [VIDEO]

  • Sauti Sol's Bien-Aimé Baraza.
    Sauti Sol's Bien-Aimé Baraza.
  • Sauti Sol's singer Bien-Aimé Baraza narrated how the band was swindled sum total of Ksh1 million while on a music tour to DR Congo.

    Taking to YouTube on June 3, the feathery-voiced artist recounted the events that led up to their loss at the hands of an unscrupulous promoter who had promised heaven, only to leave them high and dry.

    "We once had a show in Congo at a place called Goma and it was a massive success. We were always keen on going back as we thought that the previous triumph would be the norm.

    "The second time we got invited for a show in Goma was through a private promoter who had just seen our previous show and settled on us as the ideal group to grace a show during the Christmas period," he recalled.

    Sauti Sol singer Bien-Aimé Baraza.
    Sauti Sol singer Bien-Aimé Baraza.

    Everything seemed to check out as the promoter secured business class tickets for their trip to Congo two days before the scheduled show.

    However, the situation took a turn into 'red flag territory' when they found themselves negotiating for food with hotel staff.

    "On the day of the show, we went to the venue at around 10 p.m. but the place was 'dead' silent.

    There were like 15 people there and the sound system set up was below par. But we still went on to give a stellar show, then proceeded back to the hotel.

    The promoter was supposed to hand them Ksh1 million in payment after they performed to complete the amount they had agreed on, but he told them that he would do it in the morning as he needed to get to the bank first.

    Bien explained that by this point, they were already suspicious but chose to just wait until the next day when they were scheduled to take a 3-hour bus ride from Goma to Kigali, from where they'd catch their flight back home to Kenya.

    From left: Polycarp Otieno, Savara Mudigi, Bien Aime Baraza and Willis Chimano of the boy band Sauti Sol.
    From left: Polycarp Otieno, Savara Mudigi, Bien Aime Baraza and Willis Chimano of the boy band Sauti Sol.

    "On the morning of December 24, we woke up but found ourselves held hostage at the hotel over pending bills that had not been sorted out by the promoter.

    "I used to hear of reggae artists going through similar instances in Kenya, but now it was actually happening to us in a foreign country," he narrated bitterly.

    They managed to get a hold of the promoter on phone but he just kept telling them that he was on the way with the cash.

    Minutes turned into hours and it dawned on them that they had just been conned, however, the unidentified individual called the hotel and managed to have the band cleared to leave.

    Time was running out if they were to make it on time for the last flight from Kigali to Nairobi. They simply had to count their losses and left for home, never to hear from the promoter ever again.

    "As an artist, you need to be smart when it comes to these shows. Before you perform anywhere, secure a 90% deposit and the 10% should be in your account before you get on the stage because once you do, whether or not you get your dues is in God's hands," he cautioned.

    Notable scam events in Kenya include: 

    Some of the common strategies are detailed below.

    The Matatu Operation

    While in a matatu, several victims have confessed to having lost valuables after reacting haphazardly to a shout from a stranger alerting them to the presence of traffic officers ahead.

    Karao! Karao! Fungeni mishipi! (Cops! Cops! Buckle up!),” they usually exclaim.

    In the mayhem that comes with trying to locate one's belt and buckle up, one of the thieves (usually spread out and seating next to potential victims) swiftly goes about ransacking pockets and purses before proceeding to alight at the next bus stop.

    Other simply drop a coin 'accidentally on purpose' while handing their bus fare to the conductor and once your good-natured self decides to help locate it by bending over, they then go about looting you dry.

    These matatu thugs have mastered the art of causing distractions which range from someone pretending to be car sick and in need of some air through the window you're seated right next to. This ensures maximum contact and you'd hardly notice his accomplice frisking you for valuables.

    Wash wash’, the Long Con

    The term wash wash comes from the process old school photographer used special paper and developed (washed) them into photographs. The elaborate ruse consists of a liquid and printing plates which the swindler will claim is money to be developed, the catch is that they need real money to complete the developing process. 

    They will give you money they claim to have developed and ask you to bank it to gain your trust. The bank will accepy as they actually gave your real currency. This will go on for a while and once you've trusted them completely, they go in for the kill.

    Many bring their life savings or get a loan, after all they have been doubling your 'investment'.

    What to do

    Forget your helpful nature at home and try as much as possible to mind your business.

    Avoid the sad-looking stranger who claims to be stranded in the bus and in need of a phone to make 'that one call'.

    Most importantly, tame your greed as these quick-witted swindlers mostly prey on one's greed.

    This is how hundreds have lost money to a total stranger who claims to have won a huge chunk of money but somehow needs your help to access it as they have no Identification Card.

    The same applies to that phone call or SMS informing you on your huge in a competition you very well know you didn't enter.

    Others have gone a step further to call up potential victims pretending to be mobile phone service providers, going on to ask for personal information by alluding to be doing some form of reboot to cancel out an alleged double registration of your SIM card. Just hang up.

    When in crowded places within a city, always be on the alert and aware of your environment, have a tight grip of your bag.

    While in a matatu keep the windows shut and your belongings away from the window to avoid the snatch-and-run that is extremely common during rush hours traffic out of the city.

    Public service vehicles in Nairobi.
    Public service vehicles in Nairobi.
    accident thieves thug scam