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Beyond Bali, Beyond Belief.

Two East Java Men Tricked into Tattooing their Faces in Effort to Gain Coveted Civil Service Job.


Some people are irretrievably gullible. Unfortunately, in the case of two men from Bojonegoro, East Java, proof of their gullibility is now permanently written all over their faces.

The two men, Bambang (40) and Nanang (30), were recently offered the highly prized opportunity to become civil servants by the Chief of the village of Mulyaoagoang who approached the two men with an urgent offer, which at the time, seemed too good to refuse.

The village chief, Sawiyono, had received several frantic telephone calls and short-message-service (SMS) from a man, who identified himself as a ranking Bojonegoro Regency official, urgently seeking suitable candidates for sought-after government posts in the local tourism department. According to the caller, those sought for work as intelligence officers had to meet two important job specifications: they must be tall in height and prepared to have their faces heavily tattooed.

Why tattooed faces? The argument offered was that those employed as intelligence officers are required to shield their true identities which, the caller insisted, would happen if the candidates camouflaged their facial features.

Sawiyono told authorities that when first called on his hand phone he spoke with a certain Mr. Kasumi, who convincingly claimed to be a First Assistant of the Bojonegoro Administration and completely empowered to recruit new government employees.

Hook, Line and Sinker

Sawiyono became increasingly convinced of the bona fides of the recruitment offer over the course of repeated phone calls, coming rapid fire at a frequency of every 5-10 minutes, asking if suitable candidates had already been identified for the much-coveted government postings.

In a panic to please a superior and play a "bridging" role in an important recruitment, Sawiyono contacted Bambang and Nanang and persuaded them to follow him to a local tattoo parlor. At the tattoo parlor the two men readily submitted themselves to permanent disfigurement believing their next stop was a life-long position in local government.

Claiming he may have been acting under some sort of hypnotic spell, Sawiyono told Kompas that it was only after the two men’s faces were extensively tattooed that he paused to wonder if he should have perhaps checked directly with the subject official in Bojonegoro to verify the job offer and the recruitment conditions. Finally, after a few additional phone calls, Sawiyono’s worst fears were confirmed. The job offer was fraudulent and the source of the telephone offers could not be traced.

What followed was undoubtedly the most awkward part for Sawiyono, telling the freshly tattooed Bambang and Nanang that the promise of a job was bogus and their "new look" was largely permanent.

Bambang, when contacted by NusaBali, revealed that he was a simple farmer with no real ambition to become a civil servant. But, when the offer came along, he decided to jump at the opportunity at a better life and agreed to submit to the tattoo process as instructed by Sawiyono. He told the press he could only cry when he reflects on his permanent scarring that has now made him a subject of community ridicule.

Sawiyono is now the object of a criminal investigation by police and has pledged to accept full responsibility for the medical procedures now underway to eliminate the facial tattoos of the two men.

Left to Right, Nanang and Bambang (Kompas)

click images to enlarge

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to


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