It is mid-2018, and cryptocurrency scams are nothing new today. However, the associated amount is what matters now. Turkish citizens became the recent victim of a multi-million dollar cryptocurrency scam as Turcoin, which was presented as the country’s “national” alternative digital currency, was founded to be a Ponzi scheme as its founders ran away with the raised money.
The founders are suspected to have duped around 10,000 investors for at least 100 million Turkish lira (around $21 million), according to the Turkish Minute. However, the Ahval News reported the stolen amount to be 1 billion Turkish lira ($212 million), making it one of the largest scams to date.
The coin was launched by the Istanbul-based firm Hipper, which was started by Muhammed Satıroğlu and Sadun Kaya last year.
They initiated a massive marketing campaign for the promotion of the coin and organized lavish parties attended by many Turkish celebrities. The word about the coin exploded as the company gave away luxury cars to its early adaptors in October last year.
“Some of the cars were really given away and some of them were there only for show to persuade more people to join the system,” one early adopter told Turkish daily Hürriyet.
CEO Spotlight: Alon Rajic on the Future of UK/EU Trade and EconomicsGo to article >>
A classic ponzi scheme
Moreover, the business model of the coin has resemblance with classic Ponzi schemes as the company was rewarding the existing investors who were bringing in new participants.
The suspicion for the model grew over time and shadiness of its business were confirmed as the company stopped paying bonuses from early June.
Muhammed Satıroğlu, who owns 49 percent stakes of Hipper, told Hürriyet: “I was only a mediator. Our company Hipper does not even have a single dollar in the bank. All the money went to Sadun Kaya’s company in Cyprus.”
The real culprit seems to be Sadun Kaya, the majority partner of Hipper, who stopped answering phone calls of his business partners.
“I have not fled with the money. I will return all the money to the members if authorities unblock my bank accounts,” Satıroğlu, who also joined the victims to file a criminal complaint against Kaya, added.