CONSUMER Protection are warning tourists about a card game gambling scam after a Baldivis man lost $200,000 in Bali.
The 66-year-old got involved in the scam in October last year and lost the money over a three month period after also travelling to Johor in Malaysia and Manila in the Philippines.
The scam began when the man was approached and befriended by a middle-aged woman while walking to the Discovery Shopping Mall in Kuta.
After spending two days together, the woman invited him to meet her sister who she said was moving to Perth on a nurse exchange program and wanted some local information.
He was taken to a villa outside of Kuta where other people appeared, one being a supposedly wealthy businessman who liked gambling.
The victim was enticed into playing a card game and initially didn’t have to put in his own money but won $2000 over a few hands.
The businessman put down $5000 on a subsequent hand and then a further $50,000 before the victim stopped the game.
A suitcase purported to contain $80,000 was then produced and, made to believe he had a guaranteed winning hand, the scam victim was duped into putting up $57,000 of his own money.
To give him time to raise the money, the cards were sealed in an envelope so the game could continue at a later date.
The victim was told that his money would be put in a safe on a ship that would dock in Johor in Malaysia and he travelled there in November where the game continued.
Here he was persuaded to invest another $50,000 as the stakes in the game rose.
The game then moved on to Manila in the Philippines in January this year, where the victim invested a further $100,000 of his own money believing he has a guaranteed prospect of winning about $200,000 as well as getting all his money back.
After handing over the final payment to two members of the gang at a fast food store in Manila, they disappeared on the pretence of going to the toilet and the man has had no contact from them since.
Consumer Protection acting commissioner Penny Lipscombe said it had been many years since reports of this scam had been received, but it appeared the scammers were back in business.
“The scenario in this case is identical to the previous reports we have received,” she said.
“Victims were duped into believing that they had a winning hand and it was impossible to lose.
“This entices them to invest more of their money into the game.”
Ms Kipscombe said an important part of the scam was building a relationship with the victim, so they trust the perpetrators and believe they will win a fortune on a hand that can’t lose.
“But in the end the money is lost and, in this case, a senior member of our community has handed over his life’s savings,” she said.
“We strongly advise anyone going overseas not to get involved in these games as tempting as the proposition may be at the time.
“The perpetrators are professional criminals so won’t take no for an answer and put enormous pressure on their victims to take part.
“Once the game begins and money is invested, the victim thinks they have no choice but to play along as the stakes get higher.
“These fraudsters who are preying on unsuspecting tourists are probably part of an international organised crime gang so they are not the type of people anyone wants to get involved with, and victims could also be putting their safety at risk.”
Information and advice on scams is available on the WA ScamNet website www.scamnet.wa.gov.au.
Enquiries can be made to Consumer Protection by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 30 40 54.