Airport Immigration Faces ‘Names for Sale’ Timeshare Tout Probe
LEGIAN ~ Police are investigating a timeshare touts’ scam in which the names and full details of tourists arriving in Bali are sold to operators who then profile their “marks” and arrange for a national of that country to call them with a sales pitch.
The scheme came to light last week after the Bali Villa Association (BVA), an industry body, reported its findings to Bali Police chief Sutisna.
The BVA says the scam most probably involves immigration officials at Ngurah Rai International Airport, who have access to the details of all arriving passengers.
It says names and details are sold by corrupt officials to timeshare operators for Rp50,000 (US$5) a name.
According to the BVA, timeshare operators then match names and other details to a national or language group and have someone who is a native speaker in the required language call selected tourists with a timeshare pitch.
Because the caller knows the name of the tourist, hotel switchboard operators connect the call. Once the tourist is on the line, the mystery caller offers prizes and other enticements as a means to offer questionable property deals.
“The callers to the hotel ask to be connected to the guest. What’s strange, they know both the name of the guest and his hotel,” All Seasons Hotel Kuta general manager Kahar Salamun said.
Kahar said that when he had investigated these calls in the past, he found indications that the identities of his guests were being bought and sold with the involvement of airport and immigration officials.
“There’s the buying and selling of names at a cost of Rp50,000 per name. The sale must include the complete identity of the guest, their country of origin, room number and planned length of time for their stay,” he said.
Kahar said he believed the scam had been underway for some time. It had been difficult to catch the perpetrators because so many individuals were involved, some of them foreigners.
But he believes the victims are tracked from the moment they arrive at the airport.
He said that when a marked guest was Japanese, they would receive a call from an unknown Japanese national. If the guest was Dutch, a Dutch national would call. And if the intended mark was Indonesian, then the caller would be Indonesian.
Sutisna said after his meeting with the BVA last week that on the basis of reports made to him by the BVA and hotels, police had to deal with a new method of crime involving an international crime network.
He said he had ordered the Bali Police intelligence division to investigate.Filed under: Headlines