Bank Indonesia, the central bank of Indonesia, announced it has forced the shutdown of a total of 455 illegal money changers - across Indonesia - by May 2017. These illegal money changers also include many gold shops and travel agents where people can change rupiah for foreign exchange (and vice versa).
Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardojo warned the actors behind these illegal money changing activities by saying it constitutes an "extraordinary crime" that can even involve money laundering, corruption or the funding of terrorist networks because those people that engage in those actions (money laundering and terrorism) will prefer to seek the service of illegal money changers, rather than from the nation's licensed money changers.
Martowardojo added that many cases of smuggling involve transactions using the services of an illegal money changer. Therefore, Indonesian authorities are eager to tackle this issue in an effort to enhance the quality of the nation's financial system and combat illegal transactions.
Most of the illegal money changers in Indonesia are found in Lhoksumawe (Aceh), Bali, Kediri (East Java), East Kalimantan, and the Greater Jakarta area (that include Bogor, Tangerang and Bekasi). National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said police is increasing its focus on these illegal money changers.
Tourists are advised to be careful when changing money and always search for a licensed money changer, preferably in a big hotel or bank. Several years ago Dutch journalist Kees van der Spek went to Bali for his show titled "Oplichters in het Buitenland" ("Fraudsters Abroad") in search of fraudulent actions. Below is an interesting scene (mostly in Dutch language) where he shows how Balinese money changers steal money from tourists by letting several bills slide into a drawer (using a quick hand manoeuvre that is almost not visible to the eye) immediately after having counted the money. This tactic is only possible when the money changer has a high desk. Thus, if you want to change money in a small Balinese money changer, then always re-count the money (when it is in your hands) immediately after the money changer has handed you the pile of bills