Columns And Opinions
My close shave with thieving ‘drug lords’ inside Ruaka Airbnb
For Nosim Naserian, a photographer, the events of March 19, 2023, will forever remain etched in her mind.
It all started a day earlier on Saturday, March 18, when Ms Naserian got a phone call from a man who said he wanted a photoshoot for his son the next day.
Being a professional photographer, Ms Naserian, who is in her late twenties, has widely advertised her business –and her number— on the internet.
“We talked about the payment, the duration of the photoshoot which would be three hours and the time. At around 10pm, he called again this time letting me know that the photoshoot would be at his ‘baby mama’s’ house in Ruaka,” she says.
“I told him since the venue was far from my studio which is located in Jamhuri shopping centre, he would have to cater for my taxi.”
The caller agreed and even informed Ms Naserian that it was not necessary to carry her big lights since the supposed house had enough lighting.
The following day, Ms Naserian ordered a taxi and upon arrival, she let him know. The man sent in his alleged baby mama to make the payments, which she did in cash.
Driven by instincts, Ms Naserian took a photo of the so-called baby mama.
When they got into the building there was no security guard.
The alleged baby mama led the way to the lifts since her house was on the fifth floor but Ms Naserian who says she is scared of motions declined.
She instead took the stairs while in the company of the said baby mama.
While entering the house, 509, Ms Naserian could not help but notice that the house had only three balloons which were strategically placed.
Additionally, the house was spotlessly clean something that alarmed her.
There was another woman, identified as Jemima, who was introduced as a friend of the baby mama.
She requested to have her speed lights and camera batteries to be charged.
Did not drink hers
While on the couch, the alleged baby mama left to the open kitchen and poured some juice for all of them. Ms Naserian did not drink hers. She them that she was okay.
Using experiences shared by other victims, Nation has learnt that the juice is usually spiked so that the victim becomes dazed before the conmen and women make away with the equipment.
At this point, she remembered that the photo she had taken earlier, she had not sent it to anyone and needed to do so “just in case”.
“I asked for the Wi-Fi password and then passed over my phone to the said baby mama to key in the password. Shockingly, she did not know ‘her’ house’s Wi-Fi password,” she recalls.
The said baby mama claimed that someone had changed the password and called to ask for it.
Ms Naserian, who is chatty naturally, complimented the alleged baby mama on the beauty of the house and innocently enquired about the rent.
“Aaaah….it is too expensive….Sh60,000,” she was told.
Ms Naserian picked that the lady was not sure of the rent.
After an hour, she called the man who had requested her to do the photoshoot to inform him that he had just two hours left.
“We are at Village Market mall finalising things,” the man responded.
“Just remember you booked for three hours and one hour is already gone,” Ms Naserian fired back.
She then got a video call and requested if she could pick it up. “I went to the dining area and realised no one had eaten from it for a while. I brushed it off. Since the television was loud, I decided to go to the balcony,” she says.
Constantly use bleach
“There, I saw a big washing machine and next to it were white bedsheets like those in hotels (because of the need to constantly use bleach).”
After the call, Ms Naserian went to her couch position and maintained small talk with the two women mostly complimenting the house.
“You can go check out the bedrooms,” the said baby mama urged her.
Shocked by the “polite gesture” Ms Naserian remained put. After glancing at her phone’s clock, she realised another hour had passed.
“I decided to call him again. He asked me how much we had agreed on so that he could pay but I requested him to pay through my studio’s pay bill. He then asked to speak with Jemima, which was strange to me since the ‘baby mama’ was in the vicinity,” she explains.
After their conversation, the man asked Ms Naserian to accompany Jemima to pick up the cash “since he was not far from the house”.
Ms Naserian asked Jemima to bring in the batteries so that she could pack them.
But as she stood to leave, Jemima told the said baby mama, “take care of her bags,” like an assurance that she could leave the equipment as they went to get her money.
Startled, she asked them, “You think I can leave my equipment here? They are worth a lot.” Ms Naserian then carried her bags.
Further, she reassured them that once she received the cash she would return for the shoot.
Attempted to convince her
While at the door, the alleged Jemima again attempted to convince her to take the juice she had been poured for.
“I tried to get Jemima’s photo but could not capture her face without her knowing. At this time, I’m scared because I know these are con women,” she discloses.
Jemima asked Ms Naserian to take the lift but she refused, saying she would take the stairs just as she had when she went in.
Jemima took the lifts while Ms Naserian took the stairs.
When she got to the ground floor, Jemima was not there. She then went to the soldier, who was around by then, and enquired whether the apartment’s houses were Airbnb’s or residential.
“The people you were with upstairs they did not tell you?” he retorted arousing more suspicion in Ms Naserian.
Minutes later, Jemima showed up and they left. By this time, it was crystal clear to Ms Naserian that the women were up to no good.
While on the way, she asked why the baby daddy would not bring the cash.
“Jemima gave some long story of how the baby mama is never wanted in the family but I brushed it off,” she said.
Having walked for quite some time with no particular destination, Ms Naserian stopped at some shops saying she wanted to buy something to eat.
“Let’s go inside I will buy you food,” Jemima offered. “Why would you want to buy me, a stranger, food?” Ms Naserian thought to herself.
She then said she would order from the chips mwitu (chips sold by street vendors).
Jemima told her that she was not comfortable standing and would go down the road and look for a better restaurant where they would eat at.
“She left and I waited there for around thirty minutes. She did not come back,” she recalls.
Confused and shocked, Ms Naserian called a family member who ordered a taxi for her. She knew she would be safe in the taxi.
Once inside, she requested the driver to go down the road to where Jemima said she was heading.
“We did not see her. We went back to the apartment wanting to get to the bottom of what just happened,” she says.
While recording a video of the soldier, Ms Naserian questioned him on who the ladies were.
“At first, he was shifty but he told me that they booked the room in the morning and as soon as she left with Jemima, the ‘baby mama’ also left,” she said.
She got back to the taxi and cried her way back home, lucky to have survived the schemes of the drug lords but traumatised by the whole events of the day.
When Ms Naserian’s story went viral on social media, a man by the name Brian Ayieko shared on Twitter that the same ordeal happened to him on the same day.
Attaching screenshots of the conversation, Ayieko noted that he was also lucky to have escaped the thieves in Mirema, Nairobi.
“In one of the attached pics I have tried to detail the most I can remember. I was lucky they did not steal from me. The lady in the picture had the same outfit when we met. Anyway, be safe out there creators,” read his tweet.
She has already reported the matter and it is under police investigation.
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