Property investing scams and how to spot them

Imagine finding an amazing villa in beautiful Bali. It has a private pool and stunning ocean views. 

The price seems very low compared to what you’re used to. Excited, you quickly send a deposit to buy the villa.

But then, nothing happens. 

The seller disappears, and the villa you thought you were buying never existed. Your dream and your money are gone.

This is one way scammers can trick you when investing in Bali property. 

Sadly, many foreign buyers get attracted to Bali property deals that seem too good to be true. They fall victim to these schemes.

But it doesn’t have to be you! 

This article will give you the information you need to invest in Bali real estate safely. You’ll learn about the most common scams to avoid. You’ll learn the simple steps to ensure a smooth investment process.

Let’s get started!

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Watch Out for These Scammer Red Flags

If you encounter these shady situations, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You must know the red flags you should avoid to protect yourself from getting scammed: 

1. Promises That Sound Too Good

    Be suspicious if someone promises you an impossibly amazing investment, like a guaranteed crazy high rental income every month or a home at a suspiciously low price. Those kinds of offers are scams trying to trick you.

    2. People Rushing You

      Legit sellers will give you plenty of time to consider things carefully. But scammers try to pressure you to make a quick decision before you realize their lies. Don’t do it if someone keeps bugging you to sign paperwork or pay a deposit immediately! Just walk away.

      3. Unclear Ownership

        You must verify who owns the property by checking all the paperwork. Only buy something if the ownership seems clear. Hire a local lawyer or notary to help you with this process.

        4. Fake Documents

          Scammers might use forged or fake documents to “prove” they own the home. Insist on seeing the original paperwork in person. Then, have your lawyer verify that every document is legitimate before believing anything.

          5. Unregistered Agents

            Only work with reputable real estate agents. The Indonesian Property Agents Association can help you double-check their paperwork and credentials. Dealing with unlicensed agents is very risky.

            Listen to your gut instinct if something seems off about a property “opportunity.” 

            Protecting yourself from scams is the top priority when investing in Bali real estate as a foreigner.

            How to protect yourself against scams

            Now you know what to look for, it’s also super important to know how to protect yourself from scammers. 

            The bad guys love to target unsuspecting overseas buyers with their sneaky scams. 

            Follow these tips to avoid getting ripped off:

            1. Do Your Homework First

              Before looking at villas or houses, you must research and understand the average property values in the areas you want to buy. Look at recent sale prices for similar homes. That way, you’ll know if a listing seems unrealistically cheap and is a scam.

              2. Work with an expert real estate agent.

                Don’t try to handle the complicated legal stuff on your own. You need a property agent who understands all the ownership laws and paperwork requirements. They can spot potential scams and ensure the deal is 100% legit before you pay.

                3. Keep Your Money Safe

                  Never wire full payment directly to a seller, even if they insist. Instead, use an escrow service. This is when your money goes to a neutral third party, who holds it safely until the sale finalizes and the property legally transfers to you. Escrow protects you from fraud.

                  4. Be Careful Online

                    Don’t get tricked by fake listings on the internet. An online ad with little detail about the property or only generic photos is probably a scam. 

                    Scammers often copy pics from legitimate listings to lure victims. Only work with listings from trusted sources that provide all the specific details and information.

                    The most important thing is to take it slow, double-check everything, and not let anyone rush you into regretful payments. 

                    Scammers rely on tricking you with high-pressure tactics. A little patience can save you from losing your life savings! 

                    Common Scams to Watch Out For:

                    Now, though you know how to protect yourself from fraud, there are sometimes ways you can’t predict…

                    And that can cost you a lot of money. 

                    Let’s discover three ways scammers could trick you into falling for their traps.

                    1. Fake property deals

                      One of the biggest scams in Bali involves tricking foreign investors who want to find cheap property deals through fake deals.

                      Scammers create fake real estate listings that advertise homes and villas at super low prices compared to the normal rates in the area.

                      These fake posts use professional photos from legitimate listings to look real. However, the descriptions have inflated numbers and amenities that don’t match the pictures.

                      The scammers lure victims by advertising an unbelievable, too-good-to-be-true deal. 

                      For example, they may list a 5-bedroom villa with an ocean view and private pool for a fraction of the typical $1 million price for a luxury property in Bali’s nicest areas. 

                      If a listing seems too good to be true and the numbers don’t make sense based on your research, it’s likely a scam trying to get your upfront deposit or payment illegally.

                      2. Untraceable payment methods 

                        Another huge red flag is if the seller asks you to pay using untraceable methods that can’t be reversed, like wire transfers or cryptocurrency. 

                        Scammers love these payment types because once you send the money, it’s gone forever, and you can’t get it back.

                        Legitimate real estate agents and developers only accept secure payment methods that can be traced and canceled if something goes wrong. 

                        They will only ask for money once they have provided all the verified paperwork proving they legally own the property. If someone wants you to wire money directly to their account or pay in crypto before giving you the signed deeds and ownership documentation, that’s a big problem.

                        They could just try to get your cash and disappear without ever transferring the property to you. Trustworthy sellers are always happy to show proof of their legal rights over the home or land first. 

                        If the person you’re dealing with insists on you paying in sketchy ways before verifying everything, you should just cancel the deal.

                        3. Advance fee fraud

                          This type involves scammers persuading victims to make advance payments based on false promises of later receiving something of greater value, such as real estate or investment returns.

                          In this scenario, the victim believes they are investing in legitimate real estate opportunities. Such as land purchases and development projects, only to discover that the property either doesn’t exist, is not owned by the sellers, or is worth far less than represented. 

                          These things could happen to you

                          A real case happened to a princess from Saudi Arabia. 

                          In a big scam, Princess Lolowah of Saudi Arabia was tricked by two Indonesians, EMC and EAH. 

                          From April 2011 to September 2018, the princess sent them Rp 505.5 billion (US$37.1 million) to buy land and build two resorts in Bali. 

                          However, by 2018, the resorts were not finished, and the land was worth less than promised.

                          Worse, EMC and EAH still owned the properties, and another company claimed the land. They also tricked her into sending $500,000 for land that wasn’t even for sale.

                          Princess Lolowah lost at least Rp 512 billion. The police charged the scammers with fraud and money laundering. 

                          This story shows how important it is to check things carefully when buying property.

                          How we can help

                          Investing in real estate in another country can be challenging because the rules differ. That’s why it’s a good idea to work with a reputable real estate agency like Bali Villa Realty.

                          We’re here to help you find a safe and profitable investment in a great location, check all the legal requirements, and connect you directly with the property owner to ensure everything is legitimate.

                          Don’t let your Bali property dreams turn into nightmares. 

                          Do your due diligence and work with knowledgeable professionals who can ensure a smooth and successful investment experience. 


                          Are you excited about investing in Bali’s real estate? Or are you worried about possible problems? 

                          Those scams are not meant to scare you but to remind you always to be careful and do thorough research before making a transaction.

                          Most importantly, working with a reputable real estate agent like Bali Villa Realty is recommended because our local guide and experts can help you have a legal and profitable investment in Bali.

                          Don’t let the fear of getting scammed ruin your dream of owning property in Bali. 

                          If you take the recommended steps to protect your investment, investing in Bali’s real estate can be a rewarding experience.

                          Want to start an investment property in Bali?

                          Talk to our professional real estate experts and get personalized information tailored to your investment needs in Bali.

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