8,000 people defrauded of upto Rs. 14bn in cryptocurrency scam; two Chinese, three Lankans held: Police


By Sandun Jayawardana

Two Chinese and three Sri Lankans are in remand custody in connection with the running of an alleged cryptocurrency scam that police believe defrauded some Rs. 14 billion from more than 8,000 people.

The alleged Ponzi scheme, known as “Sports Chain” has been operating in the country since 2020. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) earlier arrested the Chinese — a male and a female — at the Bandaranaike International Airport while they were attempting to leave the country.

One Sri Lankan suspect, identified as Shamal Keerthi Bandara was also arrested by the CID in connection with the alleged scam and is currently out on bail. Three other Sri Lankan suspects who were arrested over the Ponzi scheme were produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court on Thursday (27) along with the Chinese couple. All five suspects were remanded till November 10.

The Sunday Times last month reported how many unsuspecting Sri Lankans had allegedly been duped into investing millions of rupees in the cryptocurrency scam, which promised monthly interest rates of between 10 and 15 percent. (https://www.sundaytimes.lk/220918/news/cloud-over-sports-chain-as-cryptocurrency-investors-lose-millions-496132.html)

Investigators are still trying to ascertain how extensive the scam was but initial inquiries have led them to believe that up to 8,000 people have been defrauded to the tune of about Rs. 14 billion during the two years the Ponzi scheme operated in the country, Police Spokesman Nihal Thalduwa said. He urged the people to be vigilant when investing in cryptocurrency schemes as police suspect more such Ponzi schemes could be in operation.

The CID’s Financial and Commercial Crime Investigation Division is conducting investigations into the matter.

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