Umrah Scammer Couple Owes More Than Rp 100b to Business Associates

The public exposure of the fraud committed by the husband and wife owners of First Travel, Andika Surachman and Aniessa Hasibuan, caused quite a national stir. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

By : Aichi Halik | on 6:16 PM August 21, 2017
Category : News, Crime

Jakarta. A husband-and-wife couple, the owners of travel agency First Anugrah Karya Wisaya, better known as First Travel, which is now being investigated for allegedly scamming money from more than 70,000 would-be umrah, or mini-hajj, pilgrims, reportedly still owe Rp 104 billion ($7.8 million) to their business associates.

First Travel, which was ordered by Indonesia's financial services regulator (OJK) to close down on July 21, used to offer cheap umrah packages that became popular among would-be pilgrims looking for a bargain.

An umrah package from First Travel typically cost around Rp 14 million, about 4 million less than elsewhere.

But earlier this year, some would-be pilgrims started complaining that their umrah trips to Saudi Arabia had been canceled, although they had paid their full fare.

Some of First Travel's customers claimed they had to wait more than a year before departing for Saudi Arabia.

The Minsitry of Religious Affairs tried to intervene by facilitating meetings between First Travel's customers and the agency's management, but to no avail.

In the end, the OJK ordered First Travel to cease offering their heavily discounted "promo" umrah deals.

Police have since named Andika Surachman, the owner of First Travel, his wife Anniesa Hasibuan and Aniesa's brother Kiki Hasibuan as suspects in the case.

Anniesa is also known as a modest wear designer, who made her debut at New York Fashion Week in September 2016, and became the first designer to feature hijabs in each outfit presented on the NYFW runway.

According to police investigators, First Travel has collected at least Rp 700 billion from more than 70,000 would-be pilgrims, but only half of them had actually been on the umrah trip.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said on Sunday (20/08) Andika and Anniesa owe Rp 80 billion to an unnamed person, who reportedly takes care of ticket bookings for First Travel, and Rp 24 billion to another unnamed person who organizes accommodation and catering for pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

Setyo said the police have seized the couple's multiple bank accounts, but found they only had Rp 1.6 million left in them.

The police have also frozen all of First Travel's assets. "We have their [Andika's and Anniesa's] house and the company's office," Setyo said.

The power couple's extravagantly luxurious house in Kebagusan, South Jakarta, whose specs — including curtains that reportedly cost Rp 700 million and had been doing the rounds on social media — was seized by the police on Saturday.

"The house was empty [when we came]," Setyo said.

The police also seized other possessions at the house, including two luxury cars, which were later found to belong to a rental company.

The couple was arrested at the office of the Religious Affairs Ministry on Aug. 10 when they and their lawyer were trying to convince officials not to take away First Travel's operating permit.

First Travel Crisis Center

Last Wednesday, the police established a crisis center at the office of its Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim) in Gambir, Central Jakarta, for First Travel's customers to report their complaints.

So far, more than 1,200 complaints were recorded by the center.

People who want to lodge complaints about unfair treatment from the travel agency need to bring a photocopy of their ID card and all documents related to their umrah bookings with First Travel.

They can also email their reports to korban.ft@gmail.com or contact the hotline number on 081218150098.

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