Bali arrests
Image: YouTube

Indonesia arrests over 100 foreigners in Bali suspected of participating in cybercrime

Indonesian immigration authorities raided a villa on the resort island of Bali and arrested over a hundred foreign nationals suspected of committing cybercrimes.

A video shared by local law enforcement on Friday showed dozens of prisoners lying on the ground next to the three-story villa with their hands behind their heads. Law enforcement also seized several computers and mobile phones, which were reportedly used to commit cybercrimes.

According to Indonesia’s immigration authorities, 14 out of the 103 arrested were Taiwanese citizens, while the identities of the others are unknown, although all of them were Taiwan passport holders.

The suspects were accused of misusing their visas and residence permits, in addition to participating in cybercrime. The investigation into the case is ongoing.

It is not clear if the suspects were committing the alleged cybercrimes against their will — so-called cyber slavery has become a common problem throughout Southeast Asia, where educated and computer-literate young people who apply for high-paying jobs end up being forced to conduct cyber scams.

Indonesian Director General of Immigration Silmy Karim said that the foreigners who were arrested from the villa did not come to Bali at the same time, local media reported.

Officials said it will be difficult to charge the suspects with conducting cybercrime if their victims were located in other countries. 

“It is very difficult to fulfill the criminal elements,” Safar Muhammad Godam, director of immigration supervision and enforcement at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, said at a news conference, according to an AFP report.

The raid in Bali, conducted on Wednesday, was the biggest this year, local authorities said.

Taiwan's foreign ministry said that it will send consular staff to Bali and has asked Indonesia to send the suspects back to Taiwan as soon as the investigation is complete.

Similar cases have happened in Bali and Indonesia before. In 2023, Indonesia deported 153 Chinese nationals who made $1.3 million from love scams.

In 2018, Bali police arrested over 100 Chinese nationals for alleged cyber fraud. They were targeting Chinese nationals living in China but were working from abroad to make it harder for Chinese police to track them, Bali police said at that time.

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.