An Australian tourist in Bali has called out a money changer in Kuta for a significant ‘calculation error’. According to local reports, a tourist visited money changing outlet in Kuta on Monday 4th, October. The traveler was looking to exchange AUD 400 for Indonesian Rupiah. She was given in cash, less than half of what the exchange rate dictated.
The incident has been referred to as fraudulent by local authorities. The tourist took AUD 400 in cash into the money changer. The teller exchanged just IDR 1,250,000, just AUD 123, at a typical ATM exchange rate this week. Realizing the attempted fraud, the tourist immediately reported to the local authorities, who returned with her to the money changer. They were joined by representatives of the LMP, the Quality Assurance Agency.
The teller admitted to a ‘calculation error’ and offered the tourist a refund or exchange for the correct cash amount. The Head of the LMP for Legian, I Wayan Puspa Negara, told reporters, ‘After our team came down, the money changer admitted that he had just miscalculated and was willing to provide the lack of money. Understandably, the tourist did not want to continue with the exchange, and the teller gave her her dollars back’.
Negara continued to explain, ‘Even though the person is willing to return the money, the foreigner does not want to continue exchanging money. So the 400 dollars were immediately turned over again’. He confirmed that during an assessment of the premises, his teams found that the money-changing outlet was operating without sufficient business permits.
The Head of Legian Village, Ni Putu Eka Martini, echoed the statements made by Negara and confirmed that the ‘calculation error’ was an act of intentional fraud. Martini told reporters, ‘We have called the office. We have made a statement about this person so that he will not repeat his actions. In addition, because we do not have a permit, we have also provided education so that we can immediately apply for a business license’.
According to Martini, the LPM has done all it can do to have the outlet closed down. As the Quality Assurance Agency, the LMP does not have the authority to close the business down. So the case has been handed to the relevant agencies who can hold the fraudulent money changer to account.
‘We do not have the authority to close business premises. Therefore, we are still coordinating with the Legian Traditional Village to make a kind of [agreement]. Well, from there, we will enter to do the handling. But in the near future, we will go down with relevant stakeholders to check and socialize in locations or places of business for money changers that have not yet received permits’.
This is not the first incident of fraud at money changers in the Kuta area this year. In August, the Bank of Indonesia issued warnings to travelers to ensure that money exchange fraud is stamped out in the area. The BNI and the Bali Civil Service launched an investigation with the help of the traditional leadership teams in Kuta, Seminyak, and Legian to close down money changers operating without business permits and offering dodgy exchange rates.
Since early June, authorities have completed assessments of money-changing outlets along the southern coast. Five outlets on Jalan Wana Segara have been closed due to invalid paperwork and licenses. Another three outlets have been closed down as they were blocking public access with their signboards.
Despite efforts from the Bank of Indonesia, Bali Civil Service, and traditional village leaders, money changers in Kuta, Seminyak, and Legian remain notoriously unreliable. Tourists are reminded that they can always get a fair exchange rate when exchanging cash at a bank and that they should always check the amount of cash handed over at the end of the exchange.
In many cases of reported fraud, a fair exchange rate is agreed upon based on the day’s rate. But the cash that is handed over is significantly less. Always count the money before leaving the outlet. Visitors are encouraged to stop the transaction and report the incident to the tourist police if suspicious activity is detected.
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