Indonesian Car Scams: How Collectors of Classic Cars Can Protect Themselves

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There are many kinds of classic vehicles in Indonesia; from exotic cars to muscle cars. But be aware of the fact that some sleazy individuals have decided to take advantage of overseas collectors looking for great deals on restoration projects by setting up car scams. Some of the vehicles are owned by collectors and are in good condition. Other classic cars can be found in many Indonesian car junkyards and are usually in poor condition.

Because I have been contacted by several people from countries such as Australia, Portugal, France, Germany and America after being ripped off, I decided to do some investigating. What I have been able to find so far is that this syndicate is quite well-organized and appears to be 'professional'. Normally, these sleazy sellers put advertisements 'selling' their cars on many different trade websites using various false names. They sometimes use real cars but have also been known to use non-existent cars (provide photos) and fake shipping companies, as well as fake papers such as purchasing contracts from fake lawyers and papers they say have been issued by the police. Furthermore, they use Indonesian CDMA mobile phones which do not appear to be mobile phone numbers, manipulating the potential buyers to believe that the phone number is actually a home or office number.

Below are only a few names and email addresses that you need to be aware of before make a decision on dealing with anybody from Indonesia in relation to classic car purchases:
Syharial Chaniago
Deny Afrizal
Jovi Carla
Maylina Agatha
Alex Saputra
Rahmat S Limbong
Angie Renzi
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

This syndicate usually list their addresses around Batam Island, Sumatra, other locations in the Riau Province and Kalimantan (Borneo). But there is still the possibility that they will use addresses from other locations to carry out other scams. They will often ask for a telegraphic transfer, as a deposit or full payment, directly to their account using their supposedly 'real' name. What overseas buyers are not aware of is this: the bank account exists but the name provided by the seller doesn't. How can that be? Because the banks don't reject a transfer if the name does not match the account number. They just accept the transaction. In addition, several different bank accounts at several different Indonesian banks are being used. BII, BNI, Permata Bank, BCA, Bank Mandiri, etc. And not only for car scams.

The thing the scam victims listed above all have in common is that they might have avoided being relieved of their hard-earned money by reading some of the folowing tips and being aware of what to look out for when attempting a business transcation with Indonesian individuals or businesses:

  1. Always ask the seller for a scan of their KTP (Kartu Tanda Penduduk/Residence Identity Card). This is ID that every Indonesian must have.
    2. Always ask the seller for a scan of the STNK (Surat Tanda Nomor Kendaraan Bermotor/Motorcar Registration Papers) and Yearly Tax Payment Papers.
    3. Always ask the seller for a scan of the BPKB (Buku Pemilik Kendaraan Bermotor/Motorcar Ownership papers).

If the seller can provide a copy of these three papers, it could mean the transaction is 50% authentic/safe. Keep in mind though, that it is not 100 % guaranteed at this point. Indonesia is well-known for turning out fraudulent documents, diplomas, degrees, ID and anything else you can think of. You need to verify those papers. Check the registry numbers on the STNK and BPKB. They must show the same number. Also, keep in mind that there is a whole industry based around buying authentic papers from people who just have them laying around for a very low price. The scammers use these in order to make potential buyers believe that the transaction/existence of the vehicle is authentic. The car's papers need to be checked by somebody who has access to this information.

Another method used by this syndicate is scanning supposedly real ID and sending it to the buyer. The ID may be real but the photo and doctored information that is used is inserted using Photoshop or another digital graphics program. Your best bet is to have somebody check the ID of the person you are dealing with at the police station in the area where their ID is supposedly issued. This is the only way to verify with 100% accuracy whether or not the ID is authentic. One expat recently posted on a website that if the seller could provide scans of their ID and car papers, the transaction was safe. Simply not true and very irresponsible advice to be handing out!

After taking all of the necessary steps above, you will still require a trustworthy person in Indonesia to meet the seller face to face. After your representative meets the seller, not before, it is then much safer to make your final decision.

Without taking the above steps, forget about buying any cars from Indonesia unless you want to become the next victim of an Indonesian car scam. Be aware!