Cryptocurrency fraud cases continue to pop up, and this time, it’s Turkey’s turn. Istanbul cops have arrested two individuals, Sadum Kaya and Muhammed Satıroğlu, who had allegedly involved in a crypto-related Ponzi scheme, cheating over 10,000 victims.
According to local news outlets, the duo reportedly founded an Istanbul-based company called Hipper that presented a new cryptocurrency called Turcoin, which was promoted and self-described as Turkey’s national digital currency.
The altcoin began functioning in October 2017, and its operators are supposed to have duped investors of TRY 100 million ($22.0 million).
As with all Ponzi schemes, their basic idea was to kick-start a multilevel marketing scheme involving cryptocurrencies. The people were given monthly payouts and additional income for referring the virtual coin to more customers, only to be cheated later.
The apparently fraudulent scheme was discovered after the company stopped paying bonuses and its customer support center stopped answering calls in early June. The founders reportedly disappeared with millions of dollars, but the two were detained on June 19.
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Satıroğlu and Kaya ran a multi-level marketing scheme to lure in potential investors into their fraudulent scheme. Also, they granted luxury cars to first investors and threw lavish parties attended by a number of Turkish celebrities to gain the confidence of early adopters.
Hipper also advertised several jaw-dropping offers for dummies, such as a TRY 250 ($54) monthly return on each investment equals to 1,500 Lira. The promotions also included referral income for early investors with higher commissions for bringing in additional people.
Muhammed Satıroğlu, who owned 49 percent of Hipper, claims that he “was only a mediator,” and that Hipper “does not even have a single dollar in the bank. All the money went to Sadun Kaya’s company in Cyprus.”
Sadun Kaya, the other partner that holds a 51 percent stake in Hipper, told the Turkish news outlet Hürriyet that he has not “fled with the money,” and that he “will return all the money to the members if authorities unblock my bank accounts.”
“Actually they (government) are the ones who are involved in serious corruption,” Satıroğlu added.