No more pata potea gangs on the streets of Nairobi

No more pata potea gangs on the streets of Nairobi


The loathed Pata potea fraudsters have silently left the streets of Nairobi.

The forced departure has brought to an end a reign of financial fraud and terror targeting residents of Nairobi.

The groups operated with open impunity in the open streets -- spending every minute of their lives luring and conning gullible residents of the capital. Those who objected to their games, or tried to warn potential customers, would often be roughed up and beaten.

You would find them -- shabbily dressed men and women spelling of chang'aa and sweat -- operating at St Peter’s Claver termini, barely 50 metres from the county’s facility.

Other gangs took position just outside Muthurwa market – while others lined along the busy Ronald Ngala street.

“They would lure you with a pen – then trick you to play the game of cards knowing very well you stood no chance of winning. It was a clear con game,” said Innocent Njoroge who once fell a victim.

“I remember deciding to play the card came after I saw these women playing and appearing to win money. I didn’t know at the time that they were all part of the team,” said Njoroge who lost Ksh2,000 in an instant.

Njoroge said he was roughed up, beaten after he demanded his money back and threatened to report them to the authority.

“They told me to go report to State House, or wherever. They actually told me to do my worst. I was so mad I just walked away,” says Njoroge.

Reports indicate that the police were largely helpless – as the fraudsters claimed to have been formally licenced to conduct their business in town.

Today, the fraudsters appear to have left the streets – quietly. The other group of fraudsters, who have also left the streets, would park a van somewhere along Moi Avenue, pretending to give out mobile phones and t-shirts freely – in a complex con game involving coupons and discounts.

Those new in the capital – mostly villagers who had just arrived in Nairobi fell victim. They lost money.

“I am happy that pata potea gang have left the streets of Nairobi because they had become a nuisance and a law unto themselves,” says Maryanne Wambui.

Wambui recounted an incident where a pata pote gang harassed a group of passengers sitting inside a bus just for looking at them – as they did their con game.

In 2019, the Nairobi County Government cancelled licenses of street gambling artists over increased cases of fraud.

The Trade department revoked the licenses following advice from the Security and Compliance Department.

“These fraudsters apply for licenses indicating that they are venturing into business only to end up robbing people on the streets,” City Hall Director for Security and Compliance Joseph Kipsang said at the time.

Many residents of Nairobi told Wananchi Reporting that the streets of Nairobi are a lot more peaceful and orderly without the fraudsters.



City Hall Moi Avenue Nairobi City county pata potea fraudsters

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