An Aussie woman holidaying in Bali has warned fellow travellers to beware of scammers after busting a group of people she claims were trying to steal money from an unwitting tourist at Burger King in Kuta.
"These three walked past me and my husband and looked dodgy as," the woman explained online, sharing a photo of the trio. "Saw them approach a father and son and I walked past to listen to the conversation."
The concerned woman said the trio, who don't appear to be Balinese, would strike up conversations with tourists about international currencies and ask to see what the money from their home country looks like.
It's believed they are part of a scam that involves thieves approaching you and pretending to be interested in where you're from. Then, they request to see your money from back home and ask you to explain how much it's worth in relation to their own currency. While you're busy chatting about your cash, one of the thieves relieves you of your belongings and slips away. By the time you realise you've been robbed, the scammers are long gone.
The woman said she scared off the would-be thieves by making it clear she was taking their picture. "The lady was looking at me while I pulled out my big-ass phone. Took a nice clear photo and then they bolted out pretty quickly!" she explained.
The woman was praised by other travellers, including many who'd encountered similar scams in Bali and and some who recognised the three people in the photo.
"Always the same story; 'Where are you from? What does your money look like?'" one traveller commented, while another confirmed, "It's been going on for quite a while in Bali. They snatch and bolt out to a waiting car."
"Yes, this is the couple that tried it on us," added someone else. "The third guy is the driver, usually he is nearby. If they see you have enough booty in your wallet, they swipe it and run off with it, separating. It then gets passed on to the driver nearby, so that if they get caught, they don't have the evidence on them."
How to protect yourself
The Australian Government's official travel advice service, Smartraveller, warns Aussies planning overseas travel that thieves may attempt to create a diversion in crowded public spaces, allowing them to pick your pockets, go through your bag or snatch your wallet while your guard is down.
Common diversions include being jostled by a crowd of beggars, or being offered help from someone you don't know — almost any distraction will do.
The government advises that travellers can protect themselves from such scams by staying alert in areas where pickpocketing is common, treating any unusual event as a potential pickpocketing attempt, putting valuables in pockets that are harder to access, and using a tamper-proof backpack or handbag.
Smartraveller reports that unauthorised money changers have also been known to scam foreign tourists in Bali, advising travellers to only exchange money at authorised money changers.
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