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Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

Level Contributor
18 posts
47 reviews
Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

Dear Travellers to the beautiful Island of Bali, I would like to caution you on the "Authorised" money-changer's' scam in Kuta, Bali. I will describe the scam here in detail:

I was trying to change SGD100 to IDR in Kuta, Bali. The on-going rate for SGD1 ranged from IDR7,250 to IDR7,350. When I entered Poppies Lane I from Kuta Beach's end, I saw an "authorised" money-changer's rate of SGD1 = IDR7,599. This was defintely a very good rate. So, I went into the shop, which also doubled up as a store selling knick-knacks.

A guy appeared with a waist pouch and asked me how much I wished to change. I told him SGD100. He asked why not more? I said SGD100 was good enough. He proceeded to punch into his calculator and it showed IDR759,900. He then demanded me to bring out SGD100 and place it on the counter at his end, which I did. He then took out bundles of IDR20,000 notes and started counting in stacks consisting of 5 pieces of IDR20,000 per stack, which he laid on the counter. There were altogether 7 stacks of 5 IDR20,000 each, with an 8th stack of 3 pieces of IDR20,000. This totaled IDR760,000. He then asked me whether I have IDR1,000 for the difference. I kept my eyes on the stacks and I replied "Yes". He was shocked that I did not move my eyes from the stacks. So, he asked to see my IDR1,000. Good thing I had IDR500 in my pocket adn I took it out. He then said it was supposed to be IDR1,000, not IDR500. I told him it was a difference of IDR100, not IDR1,000. My IDR500 is more than enough. He asked me to look at the calculator to see that I was to give him IDR1,000 as the difference. I took a quick glance at the calculator, which was placed at a corner of the counter and looked back quickly at the stack. I also caught his hands moving in quick motion from the corner of my eye. At this time, he was already holding the stacks in his hand and he wanted to pass those stacks to me. But I saw an IDR20,000 bill sticking out from the open drawer under his counter. So I asked for the stacks to be recounted, which he laid on the counter in stacks of 5 IDR20,000 in each of the 7 stacks, with the 8th stack of 3 IDR20,000. It totaled the same as before: IDR760,000. When I was about to take them from the counter, he quickly took them and said I owed him IDR1,000 for the difference. I said It was IDR100 and my IDR500 was more than enough. He asked me to look at the calculator, whcih I did and I caught his hand moving from the corner of my eye again. This time again, he asked me to take the stacks. I said I wanted to count them. His face turned ashen. I counted in stacks and it turned out to be 4 stacks of 5 IDR20,000 each with the 5th stack of 3 IDR20,000 notes. this totaled IDR460,000. I was almost scammed of IDR300,000, whereby he used distractions by asking me to look at the calculator away from his hands, and confusing me with IDR100 and IDR1,000 difference, and his quick hand movements. I told him the whole incident was very confusing to me adn I did not wish to change the money anymore. He then made a remark that my SGD100, which consisted of 10 SGD10 notes, were too small, implying that he did not want to carry on the exchange due to my small SGD denominations. I took back my SGD100, left the store quickly, but forgot to take back my IDR500.

After that, I walked along Poppies Lane I and II, and I saw many stores selling knick-knacks with the same "authorised" money-changing boards outside their stores with very good exchange rates. I venture to think that there were many scams on-going there.

For reliable and truely authorised money-changer in Kuta, Bali, I used The authorised money changer with the blue and red logo with small words "mon", big words "EY", big words "EX", and small words "change", where the staff wears a uniform and takes out and counts money in the usual authorised money-changer manner. The exchange rate for there was rather good at SGD1 = IDR7,300. It can be found in Poppies Lane I and across the road from Ramayana Hotel.

When something is too good to be true, it probably is a scam. Take heart of "authorised" money-changers, and enjoy the beautiful Island of Bali!

Destination Expert
for Bali, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Tuban, Ubud
Level Contributor
14,055 posts
317 reviews
1. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

these dodgy money changers have been operating for years and will continue to do so while ever people don't heed warnings and continue to be lured in by higher rates. . They should be avoided, unfortunately people come onto the forum after they visit bali rather than before.

we have information about currency and money changers on the right side of this page under 'top questions about bali'

Drouin, Australia
Level Contributor
575 posts
130 reviews
2. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

You've not really discovered anything new here. The scams and methods used have been discussed on this forum numerous times. Perhaps had you read the advice given freely here, you may not have found yourself in that position.

It's unfortunate that it happens but at least you were sharp enough to see what was going on and got out fairly unscathed. Lesson learned!

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
3,579 posts
39 reviews
3. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

For any other new or uninitiated, an exchange rate that is not a rounded off number is a dead give away that a scam will be in operation. If the rate doesn't end in a 5 or 0, keep walking.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
7,050 posts
106 reviews
4. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

Saddly those scams have been going on for a while and dozens of unsuspecting tourists are falling victims everyday.

Anytime you see a rate that is too good to be true, be assured it is a scam. In that instance an offered rate of 7 599 for an official interbank of 7 250 is a no brainer. No money changer will make a loss.

Another bad sign is being given 20 000 rp notes. Easier to confuse the customer with lots of notes.

As well as the information on the top right corner of this forum, I believe most paper guides advise on how to approach money changing in Bali.

Good for you that you were paying attention and did not fell for it.

Singapore, Singapore
3 posts
5. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

I just came back from Bali on 22 Nov 2012 and was scammed of Rp 400,000. The money changer is located about 200m across the road from the Discovery mall and the shop is in a carpark alley selling "leather jackets and souvenirs". Prior to these I have changed at the same money changer but no problem because I had my husband with me. On the fateful day I changed USD200 the rate quoted was Rp9825 (other money changers about 9730-9750). The amount should have been 200 * 9825 = Rp 1,965,000. He laid the Rp50K denominations of 10 pcs each into 3 piles, last pile should have been the balance. I counted the 2nd pile and suddenly another guy joined and he asked how much was on my hand and took it back from me. The 2nd guy requested me for another USD4 to make it Rp2m which I agreed. After handing the $4 bills the 1st guy which held on to the money gave me the bills + the piles which I have not countd, whereas the 2nd guy gave me another 2 pcs Rp50k bills, gesturing ok. My mistake=I didn't recount and after walking out I counted there are only 32 pieces of the Rp50K bills instead of 40 pcs. So the guys cheated me 8 pcs of Rp50K=Rp400k. By the way before I left I requested for his card "to recommend" my friends, and he said he run out of cards, that didn't ring the bell' stupid me!

I actually wanted to walk back to the shop but my husband stopped me as the place is down in a quite deserted car park.

Lesson learned here-do not change money in a small shop especially where it is within a shop premise as it is a means of distraction and never engage in any conversation while you are counting the money and do not let them take the money from you after you have counted them.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
6,052 posts
33 reviews
6. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

Dont take anything but 100s & I'm the last to count & touch the money!


Level Contributor
195 posts
5 reviews
7. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

I only changed money at Denpasar Airport with the official money changers and then later another time at a major reputable chain that our driver took us to. Forget the name. Thus had no problems.

Destination Expert
for Seminyak, Bali, Canggu, Kerobokan
Level Contributor
8,631 posts
317 reviews
8. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

I can't believe that people would still change money down a laneway in a quiet car park - you are really asking for trouble. Sorry, there have been enough warnings on here and other websites, We can't repeat often enough - if it looks too good to be true, then it usually isn't.


Level Contributor
6,585 posts
67 reviews
9. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

Obviously a lot of people don't read T/A.

Singapore, Singapore
3 posts
10. Re: Bali: Money Changer's Scam Exposed

I have been to Bali many times in the past, but that was more than 10 years ago. How Bali has changed. Such scams was unheard of. The Balinese as we knew were peaceful and honest people, and I still believe so now. FYI the guys who scammed me of Rp450K were not balinese, they are from other indonesian islands, wouldn't be nice for me to single out here.