Turkey Says Thodex Crypto Scam Involves $ 108 Million Wallet
The collapse of one of Turkey’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges affects a portfolio estimated at $ 108 million (890 million Turkish liras), Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Wednesday, in what s ‘turned out to be a much lower figure than previously reported.
Istanbul-based Thodex went out of business last week, dealing a blow to hundreds of thousands of Turkish cryptocurrency investors, who were unable to access their digital assets.
Turkey has launched an international manhunt for the founder and CEO of the stock exchange, 27-year-old Faruk Fatih Özer, who fled to the Albanian capital Tirana.
The cryptocurrency company had around 390,000 active users, with accounts said to have a total face value of $ 2 billion.
Highlighting the unnatural size of the figure, Soylu told private broadcaster NTV that no such amount has been identified, but investigations have instead highlighted a portfolio of around $ 108 million.
The minister said the amount was revealed through queries and accounting information from those detained.
Police have been pursuing Özer for the past week and two people have been arrested in Tirana on suspicion of aiding the Thodex leader since arriving in the country.
Some 77 people linked to the case have been arrested in Turkey so far, Soylu said.
Last week, Soylu spoke with Albanian Interior Minister Bledar Cuci about the case. The Turkish police chief also spoke with his Albanian counterpart.
The minister said on Wednesday that talks were continuing and informed that teams had been sent to Albania, as well as other neighboring countries, after asking for permission.
Özer is wanted for “fraud using information systems, banks or credit institutions as a tool and creating a criminal organization”.
Its cryptocurrency trading platform, which handles cryptocurrency exchanges worth hundreds of millions of dollars on a daily basis, said on its website last Thursday that it would be closed for four to five days in because of a sales process.
But users who haven’t been able to withdraw money or access their accounts have expressed concern on social media that they may have been defrauded.
An Istanbul prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation amid allegations the platform has led to “the discontent of many citizens.”
24-hour trading volume on Thodex was $ 538 million on its last day of trading, according to Coinmarketcap.
In a second blow to crypto investors, another exchange, Vebitcoin, announced last Friday that it was halting operations, citing deteriorating financial conditions.
Police arrested its managing director Ilker Baş and three other employees as part of a wider investigation into the fraud.
Turkey’s already growing cryptocurrency boom has accelerated further over the past year, as investors joined a global Bitcoin rally, hoping to profit from the growth of cryptocurrency, s ‘shelter against inflation which climbed above 16% in March and protect their savings due to the depreciation of the Turkish lira.