Police have alerted the Defence Ministry over an alarming increase in financial crimes involving foreigners, especially by those from China and Taiwan. Authoritative sources told the Sunday Times that Criminal Investigation Department (CID) statistics indicated that 136 foreigners were arrested between January 1, 2010, and July 5, 2013, for their alleged involvement in financial or credit card fraud.
Of these suspects, 105 were from China and Taipei, seven from India, five from Russia, four each from Romania, Ukraine and Mozambique, two from Cameroon and one each from Uganda, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mali and Italy. There has been an influx of Chinese nationals into Sri Lanka in recent years; most of them work in various constructions sites around the country. In June, Parliament was told that 26,404 work visas were issued to Chinese nationals between 2005 and 2011.
In December last year, a team of Chinese investigators visited Sri Lanka to probe the activities of a group of 17 Chinese fraudsters who were arrested here in a joint operation with local police. The suspects were part of a wider network of nearly 100 Chinese nationals who were accused of hacking into various computer systems and withdrawing more than US$ 2 million from bank and credit card accounts of wealthy Chinese back home.
Meanwhile, information technology professionals recently revealed that Sri Lanka was one of the top ten countries in credit card crime. Several countries, including Britain and the United States have flagged credit card fraud as one of the most common crimes affecting foreigners in Sri Lanka.
The US advisory states that Sri Lankan law enforcement personnel recently uncovered a foreign ring of criminals who were using “false fronts’” and “pen camera devices” to clone bank cards and steal PIN numbers at ATM machines in Sri Lanka.
In May, the CID’s Counterfeited Money Division arrested a gang of international credit card thieves who had stolen Rs. 32.8 million rupees from the ATM network of a private bank in a single day.