Woman who ripped-off the rich | Sunday Observer

Woman who ripped-off the rich

16 October, 2022

More often than not fraudsters such as Sakvithi Ranasinghe scammed the innocents in the country and robbed them of their hard-earned wealth. In comparison, the recently nabbed con artist Thilini Priyamali has spared the country’s poor and instead taken the wealthy to the cleaners.

Instead of meagre amounts, Priyamali conducted her business transactions in millions, if not billions. Setting up a business titled ‘Thico Group of Companies’ she targeted the obscure rich as well as black money dealers in Sri Lanka.

Among those who fell victim to her were also businessmen engaged in money laundering through the Undiyal system. The loss to some of these individuals is said to be more than Rs. 300 - 400 million. However, some have refrained from lodging complaints with the Criminal Investigations Department as they are unable to reveal the sources of these funds. For example, a Sri Lankan drug smuggler living in Europe who continues to conduct business in Sri Lanka is said to have lost Rs. 200 million to Thilini Priyamali. If all such complaints are lodged with the Police, it is believed the loss to all victims of Priyamali would be an estimated whopping Rs. 10 billion.

However, to date, the CID has only received 11 complaints against the fraudster. Therefore, the amount defrauded by her collectively stands at Rs. 350 million.

According to sources, a businessman with a doctorate is said to have suffered the damage by losing Rs. 75 million to her.


Reluctant to lodge a complaint against her, he eventually did so at the insistence of the CID. It is reported the businessman was reluctant to complain for fear it would lead to a breakdown of his marriage, and as he had no faith the money could be recovered. The businessman, belonging to a feudal family was entrapped by Thilini Priyamali in the most remarkable way.

As he has revealed, Thilini Priyamali had once visited his home in Colombo unannounced along with her armed bodyguards. Despite Sri Lankan law dictating that armed guards can only be used during the transport of currency, she continued to employ the services of these guards unabated with several top officials in the Police providing her with the necessary security-related advice.

On the day Priyamali had brought a cobra along with her and claimed it was the businessman’s late father. “This is your father. He has now been reborn as a cobra after his death. Your mother revealed this to me. I was also told you keep a significant amount of money in your house and that you should not do so as it would lead to your eventual destruction,” she had said.

The businessman, a believer in the occult had swallowed this story hook line and sinker resulting in him giving away bags full of money to Thilini Priyamali. She gave him several batons of gold in return as collateral which later turned out to be gold-plated brass.

It is said the businessman felt compelled to believe her as she appeared to be an important person hobnobbing with the elite in Colombo such as prominent political characters and members of their families. Her close circle also included artists and top brass in the Sri Lanka Police. Seeing her thus, the businessman had believed handing her his wealth would be for the better and he would also make significant gains as a result.

It has been revealed, that Thilini’s business was a well-planned operation. She had rented business premises in the WTC for Rs. 1.4 million per month to portray herself as a successful businesswoman. In 2019 she invited prominent bhikkhus, politicians and artists along with other elites to her business opening ceremony using them to market her business among the masses.

She had set up a production company in a bid to attract those in the Sri Lankan film industry, going on to hold major events in star-class hotels. At one event she had even got down a popular Indian tele-drama actress as the highlight for the day’s events. Priyamali was even seen planning surprise birthday parties for various artistes which included food, drink and even gifts allowing her to become a popular character among them. While they promoted her business, several actresses it is said had helped her blackmail her clients.

Recordings and videos

However, many continue to maintain a stoic silence as Thilini Priyamali is said to have phone call recordings and videos that would incriminate them. The Police believe this is yet another reason those who fell victim to her are refusing to come forward as well.

Following her arrest, the CID has received many calls from those who fell victim to her. These included politicians. One among them claimed he had lost Rs. 800 million to her. Later he retracted and claimed he had lost Rs. 80 million instead. According to sources, he has since reduced the amount even further. While he had assured sleuths he would lodge a complaint against her, he is yet to visit the CID to do so.

It is said Thilini Priyamali had paid between Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 1 million to three models and actresses for ensnaring businessmen.

Following investigations, the Police have been able to unravel her crimes and trace them back to 2012. It is said Thilini Priyamali had rented an Alto model car and had provided a Rs. 50,000 cheque as payment to the owner which later bounced. While the owner had attempted to trace her to her last known location in Hokandara, Priyamali had disappeared by then. He then visited the Mount Lavinia Police to lodge a complaint. Following this, the Police were able to nab her while residing in a house on Dharmarama Road, Ratmalana.

According to her NIC, Thilini Priyamali was born on October 29, 1982 in Kalutara. Her place of residence was mentioned as Wanaguru Road in Hokandara. However, it has been revealed that her parents lived in Athurugiriya while she studied in a school in Pannipitiya up to Grade 10. It appears however she had not sat for her ordinary-level examinations.

Priyamali is said to be the oldest in her family of four. Her father had been a carpenter while her mother was said to have been a housewife. Sources claim Priyamali had criminal tendencies from a young age.

In 2004 at the age of 22, she had worked at a construction company in Nugegoda moving on to another company located in Nawala later in 2010. It is said in 2012 she had set up her own business relating to lands and construction in Havelock City, Kirulapona. She emerged as a businesswoman owning six companies in 2019.

The Police have also received information that she lived in a house in Wattala for many years. This house was owned by the sister of a popular singer who was also a lawyer.

During this time, she had carried out many transactions using cheques. They would more often than not bounce back, making those she owed lodging complaints to the Police. Here she was not accused of fraud and instead of giving out bad cheques which hold lesser penalties in Sri Lankan law. Her houseowner often represented her in these cases.

It is said that her criminal activities became more advanced after she met Isuru Bandara. By this time she had two failed marriages and three children from these relationships. Today her son is a dapper 20-year-old while one of her daughters is continuing her education at an international school. Her other child, another young daughter, is said to be living with her father in Welimada.

The man identified as Isuru Bandara is said to have worked as a private security officer of a politician in Kelaniya several years ago. Bandara and Priyamali were later seen travelling in helicopters. He is also said to have brought in investors to her companies. Many of his victims were white-collar criminals in Sri Lanka he had got to know during his time working for the Minister. Some of these include politicians and even artists.

Millionaire businesswoman

To build her persona, Thilini Priyamali quite cunningly sets up her business in the WTC while hiring several known persons as employees of her company. She then posed off as a millionaire businesswoman while attending many elite events in Colombo while hobnobbing with the powerful and rich in the country at these functions. She also ensures she is photographed along with them and builds connections with these persons.

Following this, she ensures that every deal is recorded and pretends to speak to prominent persons over the phone in the vicinity of her victims to gain their trust. Some of her victims are said to be children of politicians as well as two politicians themselves who had invested in her company. She had doubled their investment and returned the sum with interest, sources said. She would then use this to gain the confidence of others asking them to speak to the particular politician who would vouch for her.

Among those who fell for her lies were several prominent bhikkhus. However, none have filed a complaint against her to date. She is said to have approached one bhikkhu by offering an I-phone to him. While she had obtained a significant amount of money from him, once again she had presented him with fake gold batons as collateral. Another bhikkhu who was tricked by her is said to be from a temple in the Kadawatha area. He too had been given these fake gold poles.

Whenever her clients would request their money back, she is said to have shown them these gold batons claiming she would sell them soon and repay them. A senior policeman is said to have facilitated the transport of these fake gold items.

Thilini Priyamali had managed to reach the big time by becoming linked with a senior official of a prominent mixed development project in Sri Lanka thereby sailing her way into Colombo’s elite society.

Her business transactions are said to have been in the office of a multinational company and at the office of a politician who is not connected to the current Government.

She is accused of trapping many other businessmen through these connections by engaging in the illegal sale of foreign currency. The politician had taken a commission of Rs. 10 - 15 from each dollar that exchanged hands only to be tricked by her in the end.