‘Crazy rich’ Indonesians’ arrests spotlight investment perils

Indonesian influencers Indra Kesuma and Doni Salmanan lived the kind of lives most people can only dream of.

On his now-deleted Instagram, 25-year-old Kesuma, aka Indra Kenz, regularly posted pictures of himself posing next to luxury cars and sporting designer watches and clothes.

During an appearance on the TV show, Crazy Rich Indonesia, in January, Kesuma, from Medan in North Sumatra, regaled the audience with stories of buying $30,000 T-shirts, while Bandung-based Salmanan, 23, bragged of gifting $100,000 to an online gamer simply because he had nothing better to do.

Kesuma and Salmanan attributed their extravagant wealth to successful trading on Binomo and Quotex, respectively, binary option trading apps that allow users to bet on a stock’s rise or fall within a strict time limit to be in with a chance to win a fixed monetary amount.

But while Kesuma and Salmanan claimed to have made their fortunes on the apps, dozens of others say they lost huge sums in what Indonesian authorities are calling an elaborate financial scam.

In February, just a month after discussing his self-made wealth on national television, Kesuma traded his designer T-shirts for an orange jumpsuit when he was arrested by Indonesian police. Police arrested Salmanan the following month.

Both men now face charges of fraud, online gambling, money laundering and violating Indonesia’s Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE) by spreading so-called fake news. At press conferences in March, Kesuma and Salmanan apologised for their actions, expressing hope their arrests would serve as a warning to other would-be investors.According to police reports lodged by the alleged victims, the problems with the apps began as soon as users signed up using affiliate codes provided by Kesuma and Salmanan.

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