24 Arrested in Turkey for Allegedly Stealing $2.4 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency

Francisco Memoria

Turkish authorities have reportedly recently conducted a nationwide operation that targeted individuals suspected of stealing 13 million Turkish liras, about $2.47 million, worth of cryptocurrency from a company based in Istanbul.

According to local news outlet Daily Sabah, the unnamed Istambul-based cryptocurrency firm filed a report with the police after it found that a “large amount” of their funds stored in bitcoin, ether, and XRP had been stolen.

An investigation conducted by Turkey’s anti-cybercrime units reportedly revealed two of the company’s cryptocurrency wallets had been hacked. The authorities reportedly managed to trace the funds on the blockchain, and ultimately managed to identify suspects, which were coordinating via a popular online game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).

Police arrested 24 suspects, and raided their addresses. In them, authorities found 54,000 liras in cash, worth about $10,200, and reportedly managed to seize 1.3 million liras ($247,000) worth of cryptocurrency, which were returned to the company.

Per the Daily Sabah two of the arrested suspects were released after the legal procedures were complete, while six were arrested by the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. 16 were “released on condition of judicial control.”

Turkey is notably a country that has been seeing increased cryptocurrency adoption over its economic woes. As CryptoGlobe pointed out last year, the country’s residents may turn to cryptocurrencies for economic relief, after Turkey’s fiat current plummeted 14% against the US dollar over tariffs imposed by the US.

Local cryptocurrency users have last year revealed they’ve been investing in the crypto ecosystem after losing trust in the traditional financial system. Back in August, Turkey launched its first blockchain research and innovation center.

OneCoin Denies Being a ‘Hybrid Ponzi-Pyramid Scheme’

The controversial OneCoin organization has recently responded to the Central Bank of Samoa, claiming it isn’t a “hybrid ponzi-pyramid scheme” as it doesn’t fir the definition of these schemes, and that it is a centralized, closed cryptocurrency.

According to the Samoa Observer, the Central Bank of Samoa claimed OneCoin is a “hybrid ponzi-pyramid scheme” that “laundered money through New Zealand to Samoa.” It also claimed the organization was targeting local residents through churches.

The organization, widely believed to be running a pyramid scheme using the cryptocurrency space, sent a statement to the Observer defending itself, claiming it’s neither a pyramid nor a Ponzi scheme. It’s worth noting individuals associated with OneCoin have been arrested and charged in various countries, including China and India.

In its response, OneCoin argued that Ponzi schemes see the revenue of old investors be “generated through the investment of new investors,” and that it doesn’t require its agents, known as Independent Marketing Associates (IMAs), to recruit others in order to earn bonuses.

Its defense revolves around IMAs not being “obliged to incur any additional expenses or recruit a new IMA,” and that they are rewarded for the “value of [their] sales,” not for recruiting new agents.

The organization added pyramid scheme regulations are these for “consumer protection,” and that its IMAs aren’t consumers. This, as when they join the organization they sign a contract classifying them as “self-employed business owners.”

The users which are part of the OneLife Network are NOT consumers. They are IMAs, meaning they are self-employed business owners.

As CoinDesk notes, OneCoin argues it isn’t a pyramid scheme because its agents aren’t seen as consumers and, as such, it can’t be classified under a dictionary definition of a pyramid scheme, and doesn’t force its IMAs to recruit new agents, although they’re incentivized to do so.

OneCoin, instead, argue it is a “centralized, closed cryptocurrency” with strict anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) rules, which make it “much more compliant than decentralized [cryptocurrencies].”

As reported, OneCoin’s leaders Ruja Ignatova and Konstantin Ignatov were recently indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on charges of wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering. Konstantin was arrested in March of this year.

Moreover, earlier this month former OneCoin investor Christine Grablis filed a lawsuit against the organization’s promoters, with Grablis’ attorney claiming OneCoin’s founders created a multi-billion dollar ‘cryptocurrency’ company based completely on lies and deceit.”