I was wondering if I should write this story.  It is clear in my head now, so I thought I would jot something down before I forget about it.  If it helps just one person then I think it will be worth my effort.   I am sure most people reading this probably are thinking “this could never happen to me”, or “I would never make this mistake”.  Well, I hope it never does.

The Transaction

The transaction involved a foreigner buying a property through a nominee, from a Balinese who had a foreign partner.  A price was agreed upon and they made arrangements with a notary to finalize the sale.  Leading up to the sale however, the owner’s partner had to make an unexpected trip back to their country.  They planned to travel together, so they moved the meeting with the notary forward.  The owners actually made plans to fly out almost straight after the documents were all signed.

While the original owner was overseas, she checked her bank account to see if the money had come through from the sale.  When she checked her account however, she got a bit of a shock.  The sale price was about $200,000, but only $20,000 had been deposited to her account.  Not being able to get anywhere with the notary by phone, she flew straight back to Bali to try and sort out the problem.

The Notary

The notary said he was only carrying out what he had thought was the agreed price – $20,000.  In the sellers haste to get to the airport, she hadn’t checked the price in the selling agreement properly, so failed to notice that the price was missing a few zeros.  (I have written the amount in dollars to make it easier to read, but of course the transaction was done in rupiah).

The foreign buyer had actually given his nominee $250,000 to buy the property.  So now the nominee was up $230,000.  The nominee took the case to court and lost.  It did not deter him however from appealing and took the case to a higher court, two more times and lost again in both cases.  Fortunately for the owner, they had proof that they had agreed on the price of $200,000 and the court ruled in their favor.  Unfortunately for them, they had to spend a large some of money defending the cases.

The Outcome

The nominee of course was using his ill-gotten gains to pay for his lawyers.  The buyer was basically out of pocket $250,000 and I have no idea if he has been able to recover any of his money.

Sadly I think these kinds of scams happen too frequently.  Unfortunately I don’t believe there is enough awareness as many of the victims are too embarrassed to report their case, or they don’t think there is anything they can do about it.  If you have experienced or heard of any property scams in Bali, share them in the comments.