Aussie Pensioner Loses $200,000 in Bizarre Balinese Poker 'Sting'

A pensioner from Perth, Western Australia, has been in the news all around the world over the past few days revealing how he has been swindled out of his entire $200,000 pension in an elaborate poker 'sting' after befriending a seemingly innocent young lady on the holiday island of Bali, Indonesia.

The unlucky victim, 66 year old Joe, (he asked for his surname not to be revealed) claims that during his last holiday to Bali, a place to which he has travelled many times before, he struck up a friendship with a young lady in a shopping mall and was convinced to go back to the lady's house to meet her family and tell them all about Perth.

When he arrived some members of his friend's 'family' were playing a game of cards, claiming that they worked on casino boats and would teach him how to play. Despite claiming not to be a gaambler Joe says he was convinced to play for cash, starting out with a $200 stake, when an older rich looking gentleman appeared at the door with a suitcase full of cash (not sure about anyone reading this but at this point I suspect I might have smelt a rat - but anyway...).

The older man, who claimed to be from Borneo had apparently made his money in gas, oil, and diamonds and he proceeded to lose to Joe at first. However, as the stakes got higher and higher Joe was persuaded to borrow money from the family to keep playing. His story is that he was only playing because he thought it would be a great opportunity to help out the young girl and her family he had befriended as he intended to split his winnings with them.

If this story isn't sounding strange enough already, it proceeded to get a whole lot stranger. With the stakes now sky-high the rich 'businessman' puts down a bet of $50,000, a bet which Joe is unable to match. However, after sharing the details of his hand with the family, who assure him he cannot lose, Joe decides to get the cash. So - wait for it - he hopped on a plane back to Perth to withdraw the cash in $100 bills and catches a flight back a week and a half later to match the $50,000 and collect the winnings he believed he was due!!

Inconveniently the matter of this particular $50k bet isn't resolved in any of the news reports (we can only assume he lost?) which simply go on to say that after this the scam got more and more elaborate, involving Joe having to fly all around the far east (apparently following the casino ship on which his 'friends' were working), taking him to and from Perth to Bali, on to Malaysia, and then finally to Manilla where he arranged to meet two of his 'friends' at a KFC to deliver them a load more money (for what exact reason isn't made clear). The friends then took the money and left their belongings with Joe, as well as their mobile phone on which Joe was apparently speaking to the rich buisinessman, and went to go to the toilet. Inevitably they never came back by which time Joe had lost his entire $200,000 pension pot.


Above: Perth Pensioner Joe managed to get taken for his entire $200k pension pot after being duped in a Balinese poker scam.

Talking to Australia's Today Tonight Joe said,

'I've lost my whole superannuation for my retirement. I've worked since I was 15 and it's all gone. All my retirement's all gone. What am I going to do now? 'It just made me feel sick and then everything went into my mind stupid. I worked hard all my life and it's all gone in five minutes.'

One thing Joe did say about the mysterious $50,000 hand is that he had '21' which makes me wonder quite which poker game his Balinese friends had taught him??

While it may beggar belief that anybody of sound mind could be roped into any of this bizarre set-up, let alone flying back home to withdraw 25% of their savings in cash to put on a hand of poker played 10 days ago in another country, this scam is apparently nothing new and plenty of other Australians, including educated professional people, have been fleeced out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Australian 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. Victims are duped into believing that they have a winning hand and it's impossible to lose so this entices them to invest more of their money into the game,' she said.

'An important part of the scam is building a relationship with the victim, so they trust the perpetrators and believe that 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 savings.

'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.'


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