Indonesia Expat
Scams in the City

Beware of the Men in Uniform

Posing as policemen and pilots, con men are able to steal women’s hearts and then their money.

It is often said that women love a man in uniform. As long as it’s an occupation that connotes power or heroism, such as a policeman, soldier or pilot, rather than a bathroom attendant or a street sweeper.

If you’ve ever wanted to dress up as an Indonesian policeman, it’s not difficult.

In Jakarta, you just have to visit Senen market district, where a range of police and military uniforms are for sale, as well as badges and epaulettes. Police handcuffs, batons, knives and holsters are also available. In the East Java capital of Surabaya, you can pick up such items at Turi market.

It was in Surabaya that Sutiono purchased various police uniforms and accessories. The 31-year-old man from Bojonegoro regency posed as a policeman for over a year and conned at least ten people, including six female university students.

Dressed as an intelligence officer with the rank of brigadier, he seduced single women and promised to marry them. He persuaded them to give him loans, which he never repaid. He also borrowed at least six motorcycles, five of which he sold.

Sutiono was caught after being reported by his last victim, 23-year-old Eny Rusianti. They had met while she was completing her final semester at Surabaya State University. After graduation, she started work with a cigarette company in Lamongan and continued to date the ‘policeman,’ giving him a watch and Rp.10.8 million (US$810). On March 22, he borrowed her Honda Vario motorcycle on the pretext of having to attend a funeral. He failed to return the bike, but claimed it was safe at the East Java Police Headquarters.

Eny reported Sutiono to Lamongan Police after he stopped answering her calls. He was arrested on May 5 and is now incarcerated, awaiting trial for fraud. Police said he admitted to operating in at least six cities and had slept with three of his victims. Sutiono insisted the sex was always consensual.

Extortion Caution

In the East Kalimantan capital of Samarinda, police this month warned the public to be on the lookout for fake police attempting to extort money.

Samarinda Police spokesman Danovan said civilians should always request to see police identification, as well as any warrant or assignment letter. If such documents cannot be shown, citizens should report to the nearest police station, he added.

On May 9, police in the Central Kalimantan capital of Palangkaraya arrested 27-year-old Dino Susanto Tabais for posing as a police intelligence officer. He allegedly impregnated a young woman and borrowed money from her, but reneged on his promise to marry her. A similar case occurred in Gorontalo province in northern Sulawesi, where police on May 2 arrested a petrol station attendant, Mahmud Ismail, 26, who had impersonated an officer in order to seduce women, but then abandoned one of his girlfriends after she became pregnant.

In Bogor, West Java, 37-year-old Setiawan began posing as an officer in December 2015 in order to attract women. His police gear included a novelty cigarette lighter shaped like a pistol. He seduced a 24-year-old woman and later convinced her to send him a nude photo of herself. In January 2017, he threatened to publicly release the photo via social media unless she paid him. She ended up giving him Rp.12 million (US$900) but his demands continued. In February, she tried to visit him at the police station where he claimed to work, only to discover no one had heard of him. She then arranged a meeting at which he was arrested.

Tomi Iskandar, 24, of Riau province posed as a policeman on Facebook to befriend young women. In December 2016, he invited a 21-year-old university student on a date and took her to a hotel in Duri city. There, he asked to borrow her smartphone, claiming he wanted to quickly visit his station to take a photo of a new prisoner. He also borrowed her two gold rings, as his senior officer always teased him for being single, so now he could prove he was engaged. He left and never returned. He was arrested the following month.

Phony Pilot

In late 2016, police arrested a man who posed as a pilot and conned at least Rp.200 million (US$15,000) from 50 air stewardesses.

Ridho Ruslan, 28, wore a captain’s uniform at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and flirted with hostesses from various airlines. Claiming to be an off-duty captain for Garuda Indonesia, he invited women on dates, but first persuaded them to transfer amounts ranging from Rp.1 million (US$75) to Rp.5 million (US$375 million). After receiving the money, he disappeared and changed his cell phone number. He used numerous aliases.

His downfall stemmed from December 26, when he stole a phone at Supermal Karawaci in Tangerang, some 28 kilometres south of the airport. After haggling over prices at Hong Sang’s mobile phone shop, he asked to borrow a charger, walked behind a counter and shoplifted a 128GB iPhone 6 from a display unit.

The following day, the store’s owner checked video surveillance footage and saw Ridho taking the phone. He reported the matter to police. On December 30, Ridho was arrested near Siloam Hospital in Karawaci. He was initially evasive during interrogation but later confessed to conning flight attendants. Police learned more details of his alleged wrongdoings after perusing an aviation news site,, which featured his photo in an April 2015 article warning people about the fake pilot.

When news of Ridho’s arrest was publicized, several netizens accused him of scams dating back at least two years. Some alleged victims said his real name was Muhammad Rifani and that he came from the South Kalimantan capital of Banjarmasin.

Police said Ridho had even defrauded his own parents by mortgaging their property in Banjarmasin, an act that resulted in him being kicked out of home and seeking his fortune in Jakarta.

Local media reports quoted police as saying Ridho was able to enter planes and fly for free on the Jakarta–Banjarmasin route. Some reports also claimed he managed to enter the cockpit of a plane. Garuda strongly denied this, saying a photo of Ridho in a cockpit was taken in a flight simulator at Gandaria City mall in Jakarta. Separately, Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang S. Ervan insisted it is impossible for a fake pilot to get behind the controls of a real plane.

Nevertheless, it is possible for phony pilots and police to get about online and in public, so think twice before giving them any love or money. There have even been cases of crooks impersonating judges and demanding bribes, unfairly tarnishing the Indonesian judiciary’s sterling reputation for integrity and fairness.


Related posts

The Old School Swindle

Kenneth Yeung

The Curious Case of Benjamin Holst, ‘The Party Beggar’

Sharon Hambali

Fool’ Gold Fever

Kenneth Yeung

Phony Document & Sweepstakes Hustles

Kenneth Yeung

Faking It on the Phone

Kenneth Yeung

Scams in the City: For Worse

Kenneth Yeung