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Main suspect, five accomplices in land racket arrested

Kelaniya Police arrested the key suspect and five others involved in large scale land frauds running into millions yesterday.

The Police Media Spokesman addressing a press briefing at the Peliyagoda SP’s Office yesterday said the main suspect, Muthuthanthri Bastiange Lasith Brian Nishantha Fernando, a resident of Kanatta Road Batuwatte, Ragama, was arrested yesterday by a police team from the Kelaniya Police under the directions of SP Upali Jayasinghe.

“The suspect marks plots of land advertised in newspapers for sale and obtains documents of the lands from the Land Registrar’s Office and changes the information on the documents. He changes names and other details on the land deeds. He then meets a landowner and keeps in mind his appearance. Thereafter, he uses an accomplice similar to the landowner and makes a forged ID with the impersonator’s photograph under the modified name on the deeds and other documents.

He then sells the land to an interested party. When the potential buyers peruse the documents via their lawyers, the information tallies,” SP Jayasinghe said explaining the suspect’s modus operandi.

Police said the suspect could not have engaged in the racket without the assistance of state officials. Generally, the Land Registry does not allow anyone to bring in pens to check such documents and lawyers can use only a pencil in this regard. But all modifications on these documents were done with a pen. It suggests that the suspect got inside help to carry out the racket.

The lands are then sold at lower prices than that of the market value to attract buyers for them fast. Police said the suspects use different mobile phones and SIM cards for each deal, so that they cannot be traced.

So far, around 11 complaints about land frauds were made, while around Rs. 40 million was cheated through the frauds. Police arrested five accomplices of the main suspect. He had paid very well to impostors and others who supported him in forging the identity cards and other documents, police said..

Police had taken into custody forged deeds, identity cards, rubber stamps of several government institutions, mobile phones and SIM cards and several other items buried at the suspect’s house.

The suspects are to be produced before the Mahara Magistrate’s Court today (10).

The police warns land buyers to first confirm the identities of the land sellers before purchasing any land by checking relevant deeds and land documents.

The scam was revealed when a real owner of a land bought by a buyer came to know the deal and lodged a complaint to police.