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Australians lose $120,000 in a Bali villa scam

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Chris Slade wanted to own property in Indonesia. However, his aspiration took a disastrous turn when he met Putry Thornhill in Bali. Thornhill offered him and several others an investment opportunity in a villa in Badung, promising lucrative returns. They were asked to invest $66,000 for a half share in the villa, promising to receive $1,300 in returns every month.

Investors like Slade and Alana Cayless were tempted by the potential of quick profits and the charm of owning a part of paradise, and were quick to commit. However, it soon became apparent that they had fallen prey to a well-planned villa scam orchestrated by Thornhill, and they were left with disillusionment and disappointment.

The trap unfolds

As the details of the investment began to emerge, the truth of the situation became clear. Despite promises and signed contracts, Thornhill failed to deliver. Cayless and Slade, who invested in two villas and transferred $33,000 respectively, were left with unanswered calls and ignored messages. “After transferring the money, Putry went distant. You start doubting yourself, questioning, ‘Is this legit?'” Alana Cayless expressed her growing concerns.

The contracts and villa locations they were promised were false, leaving investors out of pocket and with no way to recover their losses. The total amount of money lost by victims who reported to the ABC exceeds $126,000, a substantial sum for a once-promising investment opportunity.

A pattern of deception

This is not an isolated incident. Emma, Amanda, and Rebecca Lussier-Roy have shared similar stories of deception. They invested significant amounts of money in properties and business ventures that were proposed by Thornhill but did not exist. Although some victims received partial repayments, most of the funds remain outstanding. This highlights a pattern of fraudulent behavior that spans continents and crosses borders.

The response and the silence

Victims like Slade and Cayless have been struggling to seek justice and recover their lost funds. They have contacted various police forces and regulatory bodies but found little support or willingness to pursue their cases. The lack of coordinated action and the ease with which Thornhill continues her activities raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of current mechanisms to protect investors and bring fraudsters to account. “We had a lot of information to share, but nobody wanted to look at it, which was really frustrating,” Chris Slade lamented the lack of response from law enforcement.

A warning for property investors

This story clearly reminds investors of the risks associated with investing in overseas properties, especially in markets like Bali, where the promise of high returns can blind investors to the risks of fraud. It highlights the importance of conducting due diligence, having transparent and enforceable contracts, and the vital role of regulatory bodies in protecting investors’ interests. As the Bali property market continues to attract foreign investment, caution is necessary, and investors should always scrutinize offers that seem too good to be true.

Source: ABC

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Written by Matt Timmermans

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