SL High Commission bares LTTE links to clone credit card scam in UK
The First Secretary to Sri Lanka High Commissioner in
the UK speaking to the BBC has said that the LTTE is well behind the
clone card scam recently bared by the British sleuths. First secretary
(Political) Mr. Maxwell Keegel giving interviews to BBC World Service
Television, BBC channel One and BBC News TV on Saturday (21) said that
considerable evidence is available to show that the fraud as been
committed by the LTTE.
"We've got considerable evidence on this and we've
known that this has been happening for a long time, how cards are
skimmed in petrol stations here and information is transmitted almost
immediately to LTTE operatives in other parts of the world who pick up
this information and withdrew large sums of money", Mr. Keegel said.
transcript of the interviews given by Mr. Keegel to BBC is given below:
BBC Television Channel one breakfast programme:
Presenter: What evidence do you have to
link the credit card fraud at the petrol stations to the Tamil tigers?
Mr. Keegel: There is a lot of evidence.
The LTTE network in the UK is very well organized. The arrests that have
been taken place in some areas in the UK is only the tip of the iceberg
as it were. There is a much larger network operating across the UK.
Presenter: You are not suggesting that
the Tamil Tigers are somehow coercing the employees of these petrol
stations into the scam?
Mr. Keegel: What is actually happening
is a lot of Tamils that come into the UK are lent money by the LTTE to
start up petrol stations and news agencies. And once they have started
operating these petrol stations and news agencies they manage to get the
details off them. These details are then used to draw very large sums of
money from far off counties such as Thailand, Indonesia and so on to
fund the LTTE's military aggression in Sri Lanka.
Presenter: They are actually coercing
the employees into doing something illegal?
Mr. Keegel: All what the operatives of
the petrol stations and the news agencies actually do is to pass the
details of the credit cards once it is copied. In fact they do not
really benefit from the funds because in fact the funds are really
withdrawn in other parts of the world. And this involves large sums of
money running into millions of pounds.
Presenter: A lot of people who are
responded to our programme have been saying that this is terribly bad
news about credit scam and that it is implicating a lot of innocent Sri
Lankans out there in the community who are really innocent and very
legal business. How do you deal with this?
Mr. Keegal: This is exactly that we've
been telling the authorities and talking to them about. We have been
telling them to investigate the activities of the key LTTE operatives in
the UK. Because what you are finding now is that by arresting people in
different parts of the country you are not really seeing the whole
picture of the entire crime network.
Presenter: How is the Sri Lanka
Government cooperating with the police in dealing this kind of organised
Mr. Keegal: Well we laid a lot of
evidence in their hands. They've got to investigate it. This would
involve taking action against the LTTE fund raising network, which is
something that can be easily be dealt with as the evidence is available.
BBC News 24 Television Programme:
Presenter: What do you think is going on
Mr. Keegal: We have evidence that the
LTTE fund raising network here is very much into this. What they do is
to assist asylum seekers who come into this country to set up petrol
stations and news agencies. And thereafter with their assistance details
are obtained and money is instantly withdrawn in countries as far away
as Thailand, Indonesia and so on.
Presenter: And is this done with the
knowledge of the people who run this business of the employees?
Mr. Keegal: As far as they are concerned
they are merely returning the favour of helping them to set up in
business. Unlike in the past where the LTTE was mainly extracting funds
from the Tamil Diaspora in the UK. It is now tapping into the resources
of the British public at large who are unknowingly funding the LTTE. And
as a result of this, a number of members of the British public without
realising it end up funding the LTTE.
Presenter: How can you prove this Link
between the Tamil Tigers and the scam?
Mr. Keegal: Well there is considerable
evidence that we have already given to the authorities. Well what we
were telling the authorities repeatedly is that instead of looking at
isolated incidents that they should be taking action against LTTE crime
network in the UK, which is behind this and that the whole scam can be
stymied or stopped thereby.
Presenter: Are these generalisations?
Are you suggesting that all the petrol stations operated by people from
a particular community in a particular part of Sri Lanka could be
responsible for this?
Mr. Keegal: I must emphasize that I am
not talking about the Tamil community or for that matter the Sri Lankan
Community. I am talking about the LTTE terror network in the UK. The
LTTE network is fairly small in terms of persons. In fact a lot of
innocent Tamils have been drawn into this through LTTE's methods of
coercion and intimation.
Presenter: What are the authorities
doing since it is now suggested that millions of pounds are involved?
Mr. Keegal: Well we are doing everything
we can to help to the bottom of it. What we only hope is that we will
get more assistance from the authorities here to get to the bottom of
it. At the moment the authorities are more focused on the activities of
other terrorists movements operating here. What they forget is that the
LTTE is closely linked with the Al Qaeda movement in its commercial
dealings and activities. This has already been researched by the
International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. I think there
is a need for greater focus on the LTTE connection with this scam.
Meanwhile, Mr: Keith Doyle, The BBC reporter who
investigates into the alleged credit card fraud has expressed his
findings in favour of Mr. Keegal's views as follows.
"So many people go into the petrol stations. So many
people use the machine. So it is really routine. You put the card in the
machines exactly in the normal way. The machines have been tampered with
or been added to. So when you put your card in the details of the
magnetic strip of the card is read. In addition there is a hidden camera
in a petrol station, which reads your pin number. Information is
transmitted aboard very quickly and the cards are cloned. And these
cloned cards are used to withdraw money anywhere out there in the world.
But this particular scam is significant because of the particular scale
of it and is clamed that the Tamil Tigers are involved. This terrorists
group is in Sri Lanka. This is on a massive scale. Although it may be a
100 pounds here 100 pounds there, although of course we did talk to a
person earlier in the programme who said that he has lost over 1000
pounds. It's being collected in small sums over a period of time and so
it really amounts to very large sums. Of course to particular individual
it may mean only a few hundred pounds. Over 200 patrol stations have
been hit so far and it is happening countrywide. With regard to the link
with the Tamil Tigers, well the police are investigating that. Police
are confirming of course that Sri Lankan Tamils are involved. Of course
the Sri Lankan Government is saying that there is a connection with the
Tamil Tigers. Of course we know that the Sri Lankan Government has an
axe to grind with the Tigers but it is very clear that it is very
sophisticated network. Of course this is not to say that all Sri Lankans
working in petrol stations are involved. Of coursed this is something
that the police are investigating but I must add that it is happening on
a massive scale."
"What happens when you go into a patrol station? There
are 9500 petrol stations across the UK. The card system has been
compromised. It has been infiltrated and some how the information at the
back of the card is immediately sent aboard. It is happening not only on
an individual scale in small sums but on a large scale across UK. It is
happening to thousand of motorists all the time."
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