Travelers from Australia and Canada have been scammed out of millions of Indonesian rupiah by a phony visa agent in Bali. As visitor numbers in Bali return to pre-pandemic levels, travelers are reminded to do their research before moving forward with visa agents.
The process of extending a tourist visa on arrival is straightforward but time-consuming. A visa on arrival for travelers from sixty countries enables visitors to remain in Indonesia for up to days. The standard visa on arrival can be extended one time for an additional 30-days.
Since the process of extending a visa on arrival requires three separate visits to a Bali immigration office, many visitors choose to have a local visa agent manage the process for them. This means that the traveler must only attend immigration once rather than three times.
While there are hundreds of legitimate and trustworthy visa agents in Bali, there are a number of scam artists claiming to be visa agents who take the money of unsuspecting travelers and disappear into the sunset.
Legitimate visa agents charge their customers the exact fee from the immigration office, plus a fair price for their time, travel, and expert services.
This is what happened to Australian Dalie El Beanini, 35, and Canadians Patrick Bonniel, 27, and Juan Carlos Peralta, 28. They had been travelling all throughout Bali for a few weeks and wanted to extend their stay in Indonesia.
Local reports suggest that the three men were very close to overstaying their original visas. The processing time for a visa extension is around two weeks. They gave a man by the name of Mang Dana IDR 8.4 million (USD 578) to renew their visa.
Dana was operating as a visa agent for a more senior agent by the name Komang Puspa Dana from Jinengdalem, Buleleng. According to reports from local news outlet Radar Bali, Mang Dana met the young men at their accommodation in Seminyak late in April. It was there that they handed over the IDR 8.4 million for what they were told was for three visa extensions and the visa agent’s fee.
Shortly after the exchange of funds, Mr. Dana disappeared and neither Beaini, Bonniel, nor Peralta have been able to contact him. He has disappeared with the funds and the three travelers were not closer to having their visas extended and were at risk of overstaying their original visas.
The penalty for overstaying a visa in Indonesia stands at IDR 1,000,000 (USD 68) per day. Information regarding the overstay fine is a little ambiguous. Some public information suggests that the million rupiah daily fine only comes into effect for an overstayed longer than 60-days.
Most passport control officers will lodge a fine for overstays less than 60-days too unless there is the police or hospital letter to explain extenuating circumstances. Overstaying a visa in Indonesia is considered a crime and can result in criminal prosecution, deportation, imprisonment, or blacklisting.
Travelers are reminded to read up about the visa rules before they enter Indonesia. Many travelers suggest that their fellow travelers chose a visa agent who comes personally recommended. They are reminded that they can do the extension process themselves with the help of staff at the immigration office.
Visa agents in Bali can help with extensions of the visa on arrival, social visa, and the rigorous process of obtaining a KITAS (work or business permit).
Bali’s visa on arrival program was extended to include sixty countries in early May. Travelers from these sixty countries can pay the set 500,000 IDR on arrival at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport. It is possible to pay with a credit/debit card or with cash in the accepted currencies (EUR, GBP, AUD, USD, SGD, IDR).
The police have not issued a statement regarding Beaini, Bonniel, or Perelta’s ordeal. It is thought that they have cut their losses since there is little hope for them getting their money back.
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