ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 30, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 44

Tiger paw in the credit card scam

  • LTTE operative arrested in Thailand with 5,000 cards
  • Norwegian Police investigate largest card scams in history

By Asif Fuard

Major international criminal investigation bodies, have begun to probe a global network of credit card frauds which are reportedly being carried out by LTTE operatives. The Sunday Times learns that Britain’s Scotland Yard, USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Interpol are some of the investigation units that are probing the scam.

It is learnt that Interpol is investigating nearly 30 cases where the LTTE has used pilfered credit to operate scams running into millions of dollars which are suspected to have been used to fund their on-going war.

An Interpol official who spoke to The Sunday Times from his headquarters in Leon France, said the organization was making arrangements to send a sleuth to Colombo to meet with detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) who are handling global credit card scams.

He charged many Sri Lankans living in major capitals around the world were involved in a scheme of stealing these cards and later using them in Sri Lanka. He said Interpol had traced transactions using stolen credit cards back to Sri Lanka and said he believed most of the monies realized went to fund terrorist activities.

Last Sunday evening two Tamil individuals from Pettah -Pilayar Arudukumar and Rajasri Paripan- were arrested at an Air Force checkpoint on Stanley Wijeysundara Mawatha for possessing 20 stolen credit cards. The two were apprehended when the three-wheeler they were travelling in was searched.

The suspects and driver of the vehicle were handed over to the Cinnamon Gardens Police who eventually released the driver of the three-wheeler. Investigations revealed that the credit cards were stolen in Germany. Under interrogation the suspects confessed the credit cards were sent to them by a Tamil contact who is said to be living in France.

The Cinnamon Gardens police are to hand over the investigation to the CID who will inform Interpol regarding the scam. This incident comes hard on the heels of the arrest of six suspected LTTE activists in London where they had withdrawn approximately 15,000 sterling pounds from the account of the wife of a Conservative Party MP.

Investigations revealed that they had been using the credit card scam to finance LTTE operations. The interrogation of the six by Scotland Yard led to the arrest of one Syrian and another LTTE operative named Jonathan Shanmugalingam on Wednesday during a raid on a house in East London.

Scotland Yard is now hunting for another LTTE suspect who has been involved in the scam. Nearly 200 forged credit cards and 40 ATM cards have been discovered by the British police following the recent crackdown on LTTE operatives.

The Sunday Times learns that a Sri Lankan lady who visited the United States in the year 2006 and purchased a Dell Laptop online had been one of the victims of the ongoing global credit card scam. Last month the lady who attempted to use her card at a supermarket in Colombo found her Gold Master Card blocked as an online purchase of $30 that had taken place in the state of Maryland just few hours before she had used her card in Colombo.

It is learnt that the FBI is investigating several such online credit card frauds that are running into millions of dollars. In the meantime the Norwegian Police are investigating one of the largest credit card scams to hit the country. A 35-year-old LTTE operative Satrubarajah Shanmugarajah alias Ruby pleaded guilty to several of the charges including pilfering 5.3 million Norwegian Kroners with stolen and fake credit cards.

Other defendants in the case are Sureswaran Thuraisingham, Kajamugan Parameswaran, Selvakumar Yoganathan, Theepakanth Aiyathurai and Sriranjan Sivananeswaran. Earlier this year the Norwegian police arrested several LTTE operatives who were running an organised crime group. It is reported that there are 95 credit card cases pending against many of these suspected LTTE operatives.

There are total of 16 defendants in the Norwegian case. Some of the defendants are well known figures in the Norwegian underworld. 32 witnesses will be called to testify in one of the largest credit card fraud cases in Norwegian history.

The court case is progressing slowly and the translation into the Tamil language complicates and delays the case further. In other cases an LTTE operative identified as M. Pathmathas was arrested with 5000 cards in Phuket, Thailand this year.

In Nairobi, Kenya an LTTE operative identified as Balakumar Poluthurai who is a Norwegian passport holder too was arrested at an ATM booth for possessing 72 fake credit cards and ATM cards.

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