Ubud chef returns home after being scammed and left in limbo for days in Singapore

A screengrab of one of the 25 Balinese people ‘stranded’ in Turkey after being scammed by a shady job recruiter in March this year. Something similar happened to a Balinese chef who was left stranded in Singapore in mid-April after being scammed by another recruiter. Photo: Obtained.
A screengrab of one of the 25 Balinese people ‘stranded’ in Turkey after being scammed by a shady job recruiter in March this year. Something similar happened to a Balinese chef who was left stranded in Singapore in mid-April after being scammed by another recruiter. Photo: Obtained.

A 28-year-old man from Ubud safely returned home last weekend after being duped by a shady recruiter and was left in limbo for nine days in Singapore.

Local outlets reported that I Made Dalem Andi Okyartha previously worked for a starred hotel in Jimbaran as a chef before deciding to try his luck abroad after losing his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In November last year, Made attended a presentation in Seminyak where a recruiter claimed that Made could get a job in the UK as long as he paid IDR22.5 million (US$1,530) in advance. 

Made transferred the money and was told he would work in the UK in February of this year. Red flags began to appear when the agency kept postponing Made’s departure.

Eventually, the agency told Made that the available job was in Singapore instead of the UK. Desperate for a job, Made went to Singapore on April 16 along with four other jobseekers. Initially, Made still believed that the job agency was legit because he was able to pass Singapore’s immigration checkpoint.

However, once they arrived, the agency did not give them their office address – if it even exists at all – and the jobseekers soon came to the realization that they were duped and abandoned in a foreign country.

At first, Made contacted his Singaporean friend who used to work in Bali. The friend gave him some cash to survive but was not able to provide shelter for Made. 

Made said that at some point he went to a local mosque (despite being a non-Muslim) in order to join the Friday prayer and receive free food. After several days, Made decided to call the Indonesian Embassy for help.

“At first I was too scared to contact the Indonesian Embassy because I just realized that my arrival was via an unofficial agent. But thankfully they received me well,” Made said.

The embassy facilitated Made and the four other men by sheltering them before arranging their return. Made told local media that he safely arrived back home last Sunday.

Gianyar’s Manpower Agency’s official Anak Agung Eka Dharma Kusumawati said that she hoped Made’s story could become a cautionary tale for others who wanted to seek opportunities abroad.

“Don’t rush to go abroad [for work]. Please follow the official process,” she said.

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