How Twitter cheat conned love-struck women Sh109m

Kenyan ‘Twitter love swindler’ Gift Emmanuel Masinde. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • At least seven Kenyan women are ruing the loss of an estimated KSh3.5 million (about UShs109m), and nursing broken hearts.
  • The seven victims have formed a WhatsApp Group named ‘Co-wives’ with an aim of getting their money back.
  • He was so smooth and even got money from women who had never set eyes on him.

The alluring promises of tender romance, endless love, lifetime commitment, cute babies and a puppy named Jayden has left at least seven Kenyan women ruing the loss of an estimated KSh3.5 million (about UShs109m), and nursing broken hearts.

All the seven women fell for 27-year-old Emmanuel Gift Masinde’s love-laced Twitter inbox messages, and showered their dream catch with huge sums of borrowed money, only to wake up to a nightmare of bank loans that they are now struggling to repay.

The seven victims have formed a WhatsApp Group named ‘Co-wives’ and are determined to get only one thing — their money back.

They have recorded statements at the KICC Police Station, which has launched investigations into the alleged scam.

They describe Masinde as an elegant, smartly dressed young man who has the gift of the gab, but turned out to be a pathological, manipulative liar.

“I met and fell in love (with him) on Twitter, I was swindled out of Sh1,220,000 (about UShs38m). I never imagined this would happen to me, but it has,” one of the victims, a 28-year-old female lawyer who goes by the Twitter handle ‘Twitter famous’ told Saturday Nation in an interview on Thursday.

Mr Masinde appears to target liquid career women who are desperate to settle down, use high-end mobile phones and have a social media presence.

So manipulative is he, that even women living abroad were duped to clean out their bank accounts for him one or two months after meeting their “prince charming”.

The cleverly executed swindling scheme involved faking documents, bank cheques, telling blatant lies and him associating with the law firm of a prominent politician, the office of a high ranking government official and a former National Land Commission (NLC) senior official whom he claims is his mother.

The forlorn women are now paying back huge loans that they borrowed to furnish his house and maintain his posh and luxurious lifestyle that included fancy dates in high-end restaurants among other romantic escapades.

All the women’s stories started with whirlwind romance on Twitter, and ended tearfully.

“All he wanted was to settle down,” says the young lawyer who requested anonymity to protect her career, explaining how he managed to win so many hopeless romantics.

She would soon realise that the man she was falling for was, in fact, copy-pasting the exact same messages he sent her and sending them to other women.

Mr Masinde, in an interview, denied the women’s claims, or involvement in any romantic relations with them.

“The flashy talk was a lot. One time I asked him about the Range Rovers he drove and that is when he told me that his mother is a former senior official at the National Land Commission, while his father is an ex-CEO at one of the state-owned energy corporations.

Chopper business

“He said that he runs the family business which involves construction projects around Nairobi and that the family had a chopper business as well, besides owning a huge chunks of shares in other companies.”

The lawyer disclosed that their favourite meeting spot was the Artcaffé at Rhapta Square, in Westlands, where they would do evening dates before going back to her place for passionate nights.

“He drove a black Land Cruiser (registration withheld) that had an NLC sticker, to prove that it was his mother’s car.”

A search of the car on the National Transport and Safety Authority portal shows that it is registered in the name of a limited company.

“His way of borrowing money is very well-calculated and backed by irrefutable evidence and receipts. Masinde told me that his family owned a regional company that rents out and sells choppers and that they had sold one to the family of a very powerful politician,” says the lawyer.

He claimed, however, that his mother’s bank account was frozen due to ongoing corruption investigations and that he was talking to a senior aide of the politician to push for them to access their bank accounts.

“I gave him a total of KSh1,220,000(about UShs38m) because he had told me that they urgently needed the money to pay for the chopper’s insurance cover, besides there was another urgent medical situation that involved his nephew who needed urgent surgery,” the lawyer says.

While asking her to be patient, he further told her that the sale agreement documents on the chopper transaction were being vetted by their family lawyers.

“A prominent senator called, availing me (sic) the documents, I am waiting,” he told her in a text message seen by the Saturday Nation.

Mr Masinde also told the woman that he was battling diabetes.

“Every single date we went on; he would eat food that a diabetes patient would,” she says.

At one time, he also claimed that his sister suffered from leukemia, then sent a screenshot of medication that was urgently needed, which prompted her to call her friends in the medical profession to try and get the drug for her.

The second woman caught up in Masinde’s web is a director of a big company within Nairobi’s city centre.

Mr Masinde slid into her Twitter inbox with the pretence of tapping her brains over a tax matter. 

“I first interacted with Gift (Masinde) at the beginning of September last year over a tax matter where he sent me a job application in my line of work. We began engaging frequently from that point and developed a mutual friendship, which saw us meet physically for the first time around mid-November, shortly after which he raised the issue of a BMW X-5 that he had imported being held at the Mitchell Cotts CFS, and it was to be auctioned due to unpaid storage, importation and taxation costs which had accumulated to KSh933,890 (USD 8,200), and were continuing to accrue at a rate of KSh27,780 ($200) per day.”

Kenyan ‘Twitter love swindler’ Gift Emmanuel Masinde. 

Mr Masinde further claimed that the car had been bought before the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) froze his mother’s assets and this meant that they had to divert all funds to basic survival costs, which is why he couldn’t afford to clear the car himself.

“Gift asked me to assist him in clearing the storage costs of a car he had imported at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as the money would act as a deposit for the car, which he had planned to sell to me at a fair price.”

The young director was interested in buying the car, besides salvaging the situation for a man she genuinely cared about.

“Our love was just starting to grow wings, I decided to meet him and take a look at the documents, which I later learned he had manufactured somewhere in a cyber café and the car never existed in the first place.

“At the time I did not keenly look through the documents, it’s the last thing on your mind because this is someone you think loves you and so I trusted the legitimacy.” 

The woman says she then proceeded to a credit facility where she knows people, took out a loan of KSh936,000(about UShs29m) and wired it to Mr Masinde.

“I wired the money from my company account to his personal account, both of which are in KCB Moi Avenue branch. I insisted I wanted to view the car the day after the transfer, but he never presented me with the opportunity to view it, claiming that there was still some paper work and waivers that needed to be paid for. I sent him more money with reference to these other impromptu expenses in several transactions between 21st December 2021 and 10th January 2022, totalling to KSh51,000(about UShs1.5m) via M-Pesa and then KSh15,000 (over UShs450, 000) from my company’s KCB account to his personal KCB account,” she discloses.

“We had exchanged tweets with Gift before, but on 25th December 2021 is when we actively started speaking. Of course, he told me he was single, having broken up with his girlfriend about two years ago. Because of the flashy cars he’d constantly post, I asked him what he did and all he said is that he was “mtu wa mjengo” to mean he deals with a lot of construction. He did mention that he’d been observing me for a while and ultimately his intention was to pursue me,” a 25-year-old female lecturer and a single mother of one, who holds three degrees, one of which is in psychology, starts off.

“We started engaging when I responded to a tweet he had put up on Shell VPower, we debated it so much and I decided to take it to the DMs.

“We finished the conversation and later went about our day. He later DMed me, asking who I really was, that he thinks I’m an interesting person if our first conversation is anything to go by. We continued getting to know each other. He asked what car I drove and I told him it was a Toyota Vitz but I was planning on upgrading it to an Auris, a red one.

“He said I shouldn’t buy it just yet, ‘I’ll tell you something — you are too awesome for that car. Keep your money, I’ll surprise you’.”

Mr Masinde, whose Twitter bio reads “pick your struggle; something MUST kill a man” kept his new catch marinated with sweet lovey dovey messages even before meeting her in person.

“After sometime he asked me to be his girlfriend. We had not yet met physically, but we would spend endless hours chatting away and building castles in the air on just how our first meet up was going to be.”

The woman discloses that her new boyfriend painted the picture of a dying man suffering from acute myeloid leukemia — cancer of the blood and bone marrow — once she was head over heels in love with him.

“This boy love-bombed me, he swept me off my feet. He stayed in character. He used to send me pics of syringes he was using for the drugs and tell me he had hospital appointments. In fact, there’s this one time he sent me a pic where his hair looked like it was thinning and his ribs were out (popping) and told me this was a very painful time in his life because it was the day he realised that cancer was going to kill him. Would you let your boyfriend die? 

“Then he started asking for money, KSh450,000 (UShs14m) to buy drugs and ship out some produce to Britain as well us to buy drugs in Dubai for his ailing diabetic mother. I wired him a total of KSh550,000(UShs17m), apart from endless M-Pesa’s of KSh20,000 (UShs620, 000) and KSh10,000 which he would borrow from time to time.”

He always wondered why she had taken a day job yet, in his view ,she was too smart for it.

“I told him I ended up here after my business went under and so I was trying to cool my heels before I actually got back in the game.

“He kept telling me to quit, he had so much money and would take care of my son and I.”

Across the ocean, a 23-year-old nursing student based in the UK tells the Saturday Nation that she was hoping that the new love of her life would give her an amazing life upon her return after graduation. 

Now she knows this will never happen.

“We met on Twitter and started conversing on 29th June 2021. He had good vibes and honestly we kicked it off very fast. The chat went well, so we exchanged numbers and went on to WhatsApp and started phone calls.”

Like the other victims, he told her that he is the son of a former NLC senior official and has two sisters. He had a brother who died of food poisoning, leaving him with his nephew, who goes to school at Brookhouse, under his care.

Mr Masinde lied to the budding nurse that he studied actuarial science at Strathmore University and opted to run the family businesses after graduation.

He, at one point, sent her KSh4,000 and asked her to buy something nice for herself.

“Gift is very good at what he does. He made me feel so loved. He was very keen on tiny details about me and really had a way with words that I melted away.

“We would talk on a daily basis for hours. I really looked forward to the calls. He was very good at noting my wins and appreciating them. He was also very stern on my mistakes and we would make like business plans and all. I was really blinded, to be honest,” she confesses.

"A few days later, he asked for KSh9,000, claiming that some of his cargo was being held at some border and he needed the money to clear some fees while assuring me that he would refund it the following day. Of course I had to have my boyfriend’s back like the good girlfriend that I am, and so I wired him the money. He never returned it and in fact ghosted me for a while,” the nursing student says.

Mr Masinde would then reappear in her life in December last year with a new “urgent situation”.

“He needed KSh430,000 to clear his sister’s hospital bill. I told him I did not have that kind of money with me at the time, but he had another idea — that I loan him the amount in exchange of a Range Rover as collateral till he pays the money back. I refused, but sent him KSh10,000. 

By December 15th he complained how the bills were drowning him, and I sent him KSh100,000, KSh13,000 on 17th and KSh10,000 on 30th Dec.”

The student did not stop there.

“On 4th January this year, I wired him KSh10,000 then KSh30,000 on January 6th and lastly wired KSh3,000 for him to clear his nephew’s hospital bill.” 

“In total Mr Emmanuel Gift Masinde owes me KSh188,000(UShs5.8m),” says the student nurse.

*Written by Leon Lidigu

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