6 Most Common Cons In Harare And How To Avoid Them…


Being in the Capital city of Harare is both exciting and risky at the same time. The CBD (Central Business District) tends to get busy and one can easily get lost in it.

Granted we are not as big as Lagos, Nairobi or Johannesburg, but we have our own challenges that we need to overcome in what is called the Sun Shine City (personally, I think this title should no longer be accorded to Harare, but that’s for another day).

Those that come to Harare (the name means “doesn’t sleep”) whether from rural areas, another city or town or even from overseas need to be vigilant as certain individuals are out to make a quick buck out of you. In days gone by, we’d hear of people who were pickpocketed, of their hard earned money and left to count their losses. These case (or at least the reporting thereof) have gone done but it is not because people are now using plastic or mobile money, but because thieves have devised new, cunning methods to get people’s money.

Below are listed 6 methods that have been used to cheat people and we strongly urge you to become aware of them so as to know when to smell a rat, and also to share such tactics with your friends and loved one – forewarned is forearmed.

1. Carrying Boxes

The con begins with someone approaching you will you are walking in town. Whilst they are telling you that they have a small job of carrying boxes that will pay something like $50 or more for an hour, “someone else” is also accosted. This second person that they start telling about the job, is their friend and is in on the deal. You are then taken behind a shop, usually in an alleyway, and before getting into the shop you are told that for security reasons, both of you need to empty your belongings into a bag (that you will be made to hold) so that your pockets are empty.

When you give the guy who has offered you the job all you belongings, he puts it into a brown paper bag while you are watching. However, a distraction takes place, and he switches your paper bag with one that has nothing in it and then gives you the “fake” bag to hold onto.

You are then invited to start carrying the boxes together with this other person (usually a male) and the guy who offered the job then waits outside. As you enter, the guy that you are with then changes his mind and decides to walk out, while the guy who offered you the bag has disappeared as well.

When you decide to look into your paper bag, you then see papers and items that are just made to make the packet look full, while the guys have made off with your belongings. When you ask the owners of the shop, they will tell you that they do not have such a job position of carrying boxes and they don’t have anyone who may have hired you.

To Avoid:

Don’t take up random jobs in town. If the person asks for your belongings, kindly refuse the job offer and move away.

2. Washing Money

A person will approach you telling you that they have come into some money that is stained (the other variation is that it looks just like bond paper) and all that they need to do is to wash it with a “special liquid” and the money will be ready to use. This special liquid is being sold by a doctor from Malawi, Mozambique or Zambia.

You make a visit to this “doctor” and sure enough after they put some liquid on these papers they become proper money. To bait you, they let you go with the money which at times can be as much as US$10,000.

After a couple of days they call you back and this time tell you that they have even more paper that needs to be cleaned. The amount will be huge, at times it may get into the millions, but because they did it the first time, you will believe that they can do it again.

They then tell you to get a large sum of money to buy the ‘cleaning liquid’ and after you come with the money you go to the ‘doctor’ and buy this liquid. When you go to clean the “money” you will then realise that it does not clean anything and the guys have gone with your money.

To Avoid:

Don’t think that there is any “get rich quick schemes”. When the offer looks too good to be true, usually it is.

3. Shop Discount

Standing at or close to the door of a shop, a person will approach you when they see you looking through the window and tell you that they are the manager of the shop and that they can give you discounts. Once making a deal with you and making you pay a reduced amount, they then tell you to do into the shop and see anyone behind the counter telling them that you paid the manager outside for the items and you need to collect.

When you do this, the “manager” then disappears and you find out in the shop that they do not have any outside salesmen.

To Avoid:

Don’t buy anything from outside a shop. Insist to go inside with the person to complete the transaction. Don’t hand over money to people who are not at their till point.

4. Job Interview

A variation to the shop discount, you meet someone standing in town who will tell you that they have a job available inside a nearby shop to do various items in the shop. The daily wages are luring, sometimes offering you $50/day.

Once you are agreed and happy, you are made to empty all your belongings into a bag for security reasons and are even made to list down everything in a book of what you have put in the bag. Once you do this they tell you to go into the shop as they will follow and it is at this point that the person will run away with your items only for you to find out that the shop had not jobs to offer.

To Avoid:

Don’t take up jobs from random people on the street or in alleyways at the back of shops.

5. Prostitutes

Appearing on various social media platforms will be what looks to be like a prostitute that will offer you a good time. At figures of between $2 – $5 for ‘short time’ or $10 for ‘whole night’ they will demand that you send them money in advance using mobile money methods. Their profile status on their WhatsApp number will state that you should NOT CALL THEM, else they will block you, but that you should just send the money.

Once you send the money, they then ignore your messages and phone calls and never meet up with you to “render their services”.

To Avoid:

Don’t pay for any service in advance, when you do not know the person and have never seen them.

6. Prostitutes Part 2

If you do finally get to meet up with a “lady of the night” (are they still called that seeing that they ply their trade throughout the day as well?) they will demand to be taken to a hotel/lodge that is in town, or some place that they are comfortable with (the con is not to do with the location however). When services are being rendered, the sex commercial worker gives ‘extra services’, usually oral sex, and makes this seem as part of the package.

When the deed is done, the ‘worker’ then demands an exorbitant amount, as much as $100 – $300 stating that she had to do things that are very risky and there is no way that you can pay the amount that was initially agreed. She then begins to cause a scene, making a noise and threatening to call the police and because you will not want all this attention you will then start negotiating with her as she will have the upper hand.

To Avoid:

Don’t engage in sexual favours with people you do not know and trust. Safe to say only “your wife” will do.

We hate thievery and anyone who perpetrates such acts. There is no reason why people should fall into such traps now that we have technology to easily notify our friends and family about such bad practices. Consider sharing this post, so that we can put an end to the above: Share to WhatsApp (mobile only), Twitter, Facebook.

Now Read: These Are The Only Two Reasons Your House Will Be Demolished In Harare…