Scotland Yard bursts international gang of ‘ponzi’ fraudsters

Saturday, 29 January 2011 00:47 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

London,  (PTI) The Scotland Yard has smashed an international gang of fraudsters that made 10 million pounds from targeting a series of victims, mostly people of Sri Lankan-origin in London.  

According to the Metropolitans Police, six men were convicted of deception and money laundering offences at earlier hearings for their involvement in a ‘Ponzi’ fraud which affected a number of different communities across London, but specifically targeted members of the Sri Lankan community.

Police believe that they made about 10 million pounds over a five year period and duped about 100 victims into handing over their hard-earned cash.

The court heard how the Metropolitan Police Service Fraud Squad launched an investigation back in 2005 after they received reports from victims who had been duped out of huge sums of money, often their life savings.

The ringleader of the International fraud was Vibhawa Fonseka, who used his family name - which was highly reputable among the Sri Lankan community - to convince people to put money into investments that he promised would make a huge profit.

He would then provide documents and contracts to back up the investments and would even pay some interest to the investors to prolong the fraud, attract other investors and squeeze even more money out of his victims over a long period of time.

The money he made was used to fund a luxurious lifestyle - he owned a 1.6 million pounds mansion, designer clothes and jewellery and travelled extensively.

He used flash hire cars to give the impression to his investors that their money was safe and that he was doing well - this charade convinced his investors that they too would be able to live this kind of lifestyle once their return was paid to them.

Three others - John Francis Napoli, John Abraham James and Mushtaq Ahmed - were responsible for creating a network of bank accounts in which to launder the proceeds of their crimes - a lot of the funds were laundered abroad.

The remaining two men - Samantha Koralage, 38, of Elvin court, Kingsbury, London and Upul Dezoysa, 60, of Long Lane, Ickenham, Middlesex - pleaded guilty to unauthorised deposit taking.

They will be sentenced on February 28.Detective Chief Inspector Robin Cross, head of the MPS Fraud Squad, said: “This scam has been devastating for victims. Many have been reduced to near destitution, their homes have been lost and some will never be able to retire.

Fonseka preyed on members of his own community while Napoli and the other men did everything in their power to hide their criminal activity.