Turkey seeks 40,000-year sentences for alleged cryptocurrency exit scammers

Turkey is pursuing colossal sentences of over 40,000 years for suspects allegedly connected to a fraudulent cryptocurrency exchange.

A prosecutor seeks sentences of up to 40,564 years each for 21 individuals accused of operating Thodex, a now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange.

As reported by Demiroren via Bloomberg, the alleged founders and executives of Thodex are in the prosecutor’s line of sight.

The indictment, issued Thursday, names Faruk Fatih Ozer, the 28-year-old CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange who vanished a year ago.

A notice was posted on the Thodex website in April 2021, informing users that the trading post would be closed for several days to deal with a “sales” process.

The cryptocurrency exchange never reopened, and investors could not access their accounts or withdraw funds. Thodex claimed on social media that no one had been scammed or had lost their money. 

However, many accused the exchange of performing an exit scam. At the time, Thodex called the accusations “baseless” and no more than a “smear campaign.”

While reports, at the time, estimated losses in the billions of dollars, the indictment has revised this figure to closer to $24 million.

Ozer, who was reportedly last spotted in the same month the cryptocurrency exchange closed while boarding a flight to Albania from Istanbul airport, has been issued an international arrest warrant. The CEO claimed he was meeting investors abroad.

Interpol has published a Red Notice for Ozer. The Turkish national is wanted for “establishing organizations for the purpose of committing crimes [and] aggravated fraud,” according to the law enforcement agency.

Ozer is still missing, despite assurances made last year that he would return to his home country to co-operate with local authorities.

Cryptocurrency is a popular fiscal outlet for many members of the younger Turkish generation due to Turkey’s economic problems and the volatile lira. The trend has concerned Turkish financial authorities for years, with clampdowns being discussed, but citizens continue to pursue potential crypto profits in stablecoins — as well as fiat currencies, including the US dollar.

Last month, two alleged operators of a rug pull non-fungible token (NFT) scam were arrested by US law enforcement.

The two 20-year-old suspects have been charged for running Frosties, an NFT project which raised approximately $1.1 million before an exit scam allegedly took place, leaving investors out of pocket. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has imposed fraud-related charges.

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