Tourists in Bali have been given a warning about a new scam circulating on the island. While Bali is generally safe and crime low, there will always be some people who see fit to try and take advantage of tourists who have let their guard down. This scam has been doing the rounds for a while but has been happening more intensely in key tourism hotspots recently.
The scam goes as follows. Tourists are approached by strangers who put money down on the table, or bar or hold it out in their hands. They then ask the scam targets to explain what the money means or how much they have. While the targets are distracted, the scammer, or their assistant, steals the victim’s belongings.
On a Facebook post discussing Bali’s current most frequent scams, one Australian tourist explained, “Yesterday I was in a bar on Legian, and the older Indian couple approached me with US $2. They walked into the bar and put his money on our table. Asked me to explain how much it is. The wife stood back, eyeing off my friend’s handbag.
They are out and about again. I just started yelling at security and received a death stare from the man. They took off pretty quickly. The bar staff hid in fear. Luckily I had previously read about their scam…last week, they tried it on someone else”.
Travelers shared their experiences and explained how they had managed to dodge the scam. One wrote, “I saw the same couple last week. I said ‘google is your friend’ and walked off”.
Another traveler explained a variation of the same scam. They wrote, “Ask to see Aussie coins! If you get your purse/wallet out they snatch it and run and have their people waiting on motorbikes or in cars to drive off fast. Thankfully we read about it in here so we said ‘no coins’ and walked on.”
Frequent travelers to Bali are sick of having to deal with the hassle of being on high alert for scammers in busy and popular tourist areas. One commenter on the post wrote, “These people have been doing this for months now outside Bintang supermarket as well. There’s lots of stories about them.” While another said, “Same story been told over and over. Someone needs to tell the police.”
At face value, the scam may appear like the scammers are just chancing their luck. This is far from the case. In many incidences, the scammers have one or two getaway vehicles ready, waiting and watching the scam as it unfolds. Either they jump on the back of a moped with the goods, never to be seen again, or quickly through the belongings to someone else already driving passed so the scammer can be seen empty-handed.
Another common scam in Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak is the tourism survey. In this scam, tourists are approached by someone while they are on a shopping street or on the beach, pretending to be a part of a tourism survey. The scammers look reasonably smart, sometimes carry a clipboard, and are super polite.
They ask tourists to answer questions about where they are staying, what room, what they’ve bought while shopping and what they plan to do for the rest of the day. These details are then sent on to someone else who gives their accommodation a visit and ransacks the room or villa.
Being on high alert for scams in Bali comes in addition to being hyper-vigilant about carrying bags and phones while on the back of mopeds or even just walking down the street. Though areas like Kuta, Seminyak, and Legian see the highest volume of crimes against tourists, these kinds of attacks are indiscriminate and can happen anywhere. Just last week, a drive-by bag snatching happened to two tourists walking to their hotel after dinner in central Ubud.
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