Laguna Trip Blog Edition


Is Couchsurfing Safe or Not?

December 14, 2013 by IamMariza in Asia, Indonesia, Tips & Tricks with 21 Comments


I’ve been using Couchsurfing since mid 2008 and I’ve never experienced anything bad by being a Couchsurfer during my travels or in my daily life. In fact, i get to know many great people from CS and many of them are my best friends now. But I’ve heard many bad experiences over the last few years, and this one story catch my attention because it happens in Jakarta, the city i grew up in.

Short story; Justin Morales, an American CSer arrived in Jakarta on Nov 9th 2013. He was hosted by a guy, Herman Hermanto (name on his CS profile), who claimed to be an expat living in Jakarta. a Singaporean, mix of Hat Yai and Kuala Lumpur. What basically Herman does is he uses his guest credit cards (and maybe atm/cash) while the guest is out doing a city tour. He also keeps your CC details, so that he still can use it when you already left Jakarta. He managed to scam at least 3 persons with total fraud at least USD7000. For detailed story written by Justin himself, go here. If you’re in Jakarta, let’s meet up! I will share you a detailed version of the story. By the time of this article is being written and published, Hermanto is still not yet arrested. So watch out people!

Herman Hermanto / Dode Hermanto

Herman Hermanto / Dode Hermanto

So yeah, it turns out we cannot trust anyone even your host(or guest)! So, here are some tips on how to stay safe being a guest/host:

  1. Check how long your host/guest have been a CSer. Usually, the longer, the better. Yes, i said usually! Sometimes it means the host/guest would know how to act as a host/guest.
  2. Check Friends in Common. Whenever something wrong, you can always track them up since you have mutual friends, right?
  3. Check Friends. See how they met, see how many he has hosted or couchsurfed.
  4. Check reference(s). Some references can be faked. Therefore, check again the profile who left the references, and check them according to three points above.
  5. Friend’s reference. Ask your friend if they can refer you their previous host/ friends on CS. The more you have similar connection/mutual friends, the safer.
  6. Check Vouched. The more he/she has been vouched, the better.
  7. Check group he/she belongs to. Check how active he/she is. Choosing someone who is active on CS (on his/her local groups and meet ups) can be a better option.
  8. Check interest. Trust me, you don’t want to spend time with people who doesn’t have similar interests with you.
  9. Don’t make/accept an emergency Couch request. It opens up many opportunities to perverts to approach you. Read and check his/her profile and do couch request the right way!
  10. Stay with host who has kids/parents living with them. In S.E. Asia in particular, many of CSers still live with parents, this can be fun/safer in some ways.
  11. There two things that are really important when you travel: travel documents (passport, ID and tickets) and Money (cash / credit card / atm card). Keep them in separate place. If you decided to leave them at your host’s place, keep them in your backpack and keep it locked. And don’t lose the key! :P
  12. Always check and re-check your bank account / credit card transaction or other valuables from time to time.
  13. Trust your instinct! or at least think the way your mom thinks. Would this guy/girl is safe to hang out/ stay with?
Hermanto's CS profile

Hermanto’s CS profile

Yes be a ‘stalker’ for once. :P
Check your future host/guest CS (and Facebook if possible) profile!!!!
If you have some other tips, feel free to leave your tips via comments box below. Thanks guys! Don’t forget to share this article to your friend or on your CS group. Let’s keep CS a safe place! :)

- @iamMariza, a proud Couchsurfer.

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About IamMariza

Born in Surabaya and raised in Jakarta in a multicultural family, her parents introduced to her the world of traveling at a young age and has been addicted to backpacking since 2008, dumping her tourist status quo. She is the founder of Follow her rants and ramblings about her life as a traveler on her Twitter: @iamMariza

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  1. dedeDec 14, 2013 at 6:14 pmReply

    is this the guy ?

    he just updated his pic 8 hours ago.

  2. ChrisDec 14, 2013 at 9:31 pmReply

    Have you contacted the Couchsurfer Safety team? Whavt have they done?
    Also how about posting his link here so we can see it – I can’t see it on the website.

    • IamMarizaDec 16, 2013 at 7:21 amReplyAuthor

      Justin have reported it to CS team. Herman already deleted his profile.

  3. DwitaDec 14, 2013 at 11:24 pmReply

    I was follow this news, i read in some group, but i can see here something wrong, i am a lawyer, for me u need to prove this true or not, someone can post everything in internet, like me, i can post that mister abcd do something to me, i just write something without provement… Well if all true story, the right will come, u make on your blog Mr.justin lost his money 7000USD .?? Maybe i am too stupid or have something beside this to make a big name and destroy someone name , i prety sure i read he get lost total of $3,705.58. Not 7000usd, i am sorry , need becarefull to post something in internet

    • IamMarizaDec 16, 2013 at 7:27 amReplyAuthor

      You can join ‘Couchsurfing Indonesia’ group on Facebook. The story is all there. USD7000 is a rough round up for the total scam he had done to 3 persons (so far). The total damage is actually higher than that. I will update the blog soon. Since now there are 6 people reported the same thing (based on the info i have received today Dec 16th 2013 14:25 GMT+7).

  4. SaschaDec 15, 2013 at 3:21 amReply


    R u sure?

  5. PriscillaDec 16, 2013 at 12:19 amReply

    Nice article! I learned something new!

  6. Justin (not the Justin in the story)Dec 16, 2013 at 12:13 pmReply

    Excellent work Mariza!

  7. AnnaDec 16, 2013 at 10:11 pmReply

    Great article! I learned a ton!

  8. 8 Reasons why you should try Couchsurfing | I am not home!Apr 23, 2014 at 7:09 amReply

    [...] The story of the Hong Kong girl who was raped in Leeds by a CS host, is true. The story of an American guy who was robbed in Indonesia is true. And all that speculation about how CS (as we fondly call it) has fallen in grace ever [...]

  9. syifnaOct 11, 2014 at 5:31 pmReply

    Nice Article, Hopefuly i can find a good host in Bangkok next month :)

  10. 8 Reasons why you should try Couchsurfing | I am not homeDec 4, 2014 at 7:37 amReply

    [...] The story of the Hong Kong girl who was raped in Leeds by a CS host, is true. The story of an American guy who was robbed in Indonesia is true. And all that speculation about how CS (as we fondly call it) has fallen in grace ever [...]

  11. AnggaApr 12, 2015 at 11:36 amReply

    almost got raped by a CSer in Penang …
    and Yes … I am a guy :D


    • IamMarizaJun 1, 2015 at 1:46 amReplyAuthor

      woaaaah….yeah always be careful lah :D

  12. KhoirioApr 10, 2016 at 2:26 pmReply

    Teman saya barusan cerita, si dode hermanto ini menipu tantenya dengan modus mengaku manager travel agent yang menyelenggarakan umroh. Pelaku hampir tertangkap namun berhasil melarikan diri di Kuningan City

    • IamMarizaOct 2, 2016 at 6:42 amReplyAuthor

      Busyet dah nih orang, sampai sekarang masih aja kerjaannya menipu orang dan keluarganya sendiri. Beberapa bulan lalu bahkan ada 2 orang yang menghubungi saya, salah satu orang tersebut bilang ke saya bahwa Dode baru menipu bule lagi dengan pura-pura menolong bule tersebut yang ingin menyewa sebuah apartemen. Nyatanya adalah apartemen yang diberikan oleh Dode ke bule tersebut ternyata bukan punya Dode. Dan Dode memakai akun bank dan data temannya untuk transaksi sewa-menyewa apartemen tersebut. Kabar terakhir yang saya tau, temannya Dode yang tidak tahu apa-apa itu sedang dipanggil ke polisi karena bule tersebut melaporkan ke polisi. Jadi gw rasa sampai sekarang Dode masih berkeliaran dengan modus yang sama (bahkan mungkin modus baru). Semoga one day Dode ditangkap dan menjadi orang yang lebih baik.

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