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Bruneian Cheated Of $1.9M By Conmen
By Azlan Othman

Bandar Seri Begawan - Indonesian national police on Monday announced the arrest of a group of alleged con artists said to have scammed Rupiah 20 billion (US$1.9 million) from a Brunei national by impersonating a representative of a prominent Indonesian political party and asking for a donation, Jakarta Globe reported.

The group, most of whom were from South Sulawesi, had been operating since 2006 and made their living by impersonating government officials. They would make phone calls to their victims and ask them to deposit money into various bank accounts.

"Thank God we were able to apprehend them now," Inspector General Hadiatmoko, deputy chief of the National Police's criminal investigation department, told a news conference. "We have arrested 13 suspects in different places since last week." The 13 were in custody in Jakarta, he said, adding that two others, including the alleged mastermind, were still at large.

Hadiatmoko said the group compiled information about high-profile figures from Indonesia and elsewhere via the Internet, newspapers and the White and Yellow Pages. "In their latest effort, for reasons related to the election, this group started to seek out other countries," he said.

"They called at least 32 foreigners, including the one from Brunei who transferred Rp 20 billion to their account at Bank Mandiri last month."

Hadiatmoko declined to name the Bruneian or the Indonesian official whom the group had impersonated.

Indonesian presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said the government had told the public to beware of people identifyingthemselves as officials and asking for money."We'll be glad if all those people are arrested, because what they're doing is a crime," he said. "We already issued (warnings) to the public, and told them to beware and be careful if anyone calls from the (State Palace) asking for money."

Hadiatmoko said the group would open bank accounts under the names of public figures to convince victims they were legitimate. In one case, he said, they opened an account in the name of Director General of Customs Anwar Supriyadi.

"They made a fake (ID card) with Anwar's name to open the account," Hadiatmoko said. With this account, the victim would believe that it was Anwar who called asking them to transfer money. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

I, like many people here, am mystified about the Brunei government official allegedly giving away US$1.9 million to a group of Indonesian conman in Jakarta. If so, whose money was it? Is it government money or it came from somewhere else? But who really is this government man?

Here then is the Jakarta Globe story about this strange episode. See if you can make head or tale of it. Now read on:

Police to Question Brunei Citizen as Witness in Scam
By Farouk Arnaz
May 27, 2009

The National Police announced on Wednesday that a Brunei citizen would be questioned as a witness in connection with a scam investigation.

The police are seeking to determine the identity of a senior Brunei government official who reportedly transferred Rp 20 billion ($1.9 million) to a bank account set up by a group of Indonesian con artists.

"We will question [the Brunei citizen] as a witness," said Insp. Gen. Hadiatmoko, deputy chief of the National Police's criminal investigation unit.

However, he did not give the name of the witness or say if a summons had already been sent.

Last week, the police arrested a group of people who reportedly posed as representatives of a prominent local political party to solicit money from foreign and Indonesian officials.

The suspects allegedly compiled information about high-profile figures from Indonesia and elsewhere via the Internet, newspapers and the White and Yellow Pages. A member of the group reportedly posed as Andi Malarangeng, a presidential spokesman, to swindle the Brunei official and other victims.

Police officials said on Tuesday that they were unable to determine the sources of the funds because two suspects, including the alleged mastermind of the scam, were still at large.

Asked if the police would enlist the help of the Financial Transaction and Report Analysis Center (PPATK) to track down the sources of the money, Hadiatmoko said, "We have not decided yet."

PPATK spokesman Natsir Kongah told the Jakarta Globe the center was ready to assist the police in tracking the flow of money and identifying other victims of the scam.

"If the police ask for our help, we will be glad to help them," Natsir said, adding that the PPATK could track down suspicious financial transactions.

"If we find any suspicious accounts, we will make an analysis and report it to the police," he said, adding that it was legal for a foreign national to transfer Rp 20 billion to an Indonesian account.

Efforts to track down the victims may also be hampered by the fact that the suspects closed the bank accounts immediately after withdrawing the money.

The recovered, Hadiatmoko said, is now being held in a frozen bank account at a Bank Mandiri branch in Cempaka Putih, North Jakarta.

There have been rumors that the Brunei official involved was Sultan Halsanah Bolkiah, but Hadiatmoko said that there was no evidence to suggest the sultan's involvement.

Under election laws, political parties are not allowed to receive donations from foreign companies or individuals, and any such violation could result in their disqualification from elections.

"We will charge the suspects with the Anti-Money Laundering Law and Article 378 of the Criminal Code on using fake identification," Hadiatmoko said.

Violations carry a maximum jail sentence of six years each.

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