Four more people arrested in Çiftlik Bank Ponzi scheme investigation
Four suspects were arrested on March 19 in an investigation launched by the chief public prosecutor’s office of the Geyve district of the northwestern province of Sakarya into Çiftlik Bank, which engaged in Ponzi scheme-type practices.
Authorities have issued detention warrants for a total of 18 people.
Fourteen people have not been apprehended yet.
Sıla Aydın, the wife of Çiftlik Bank CEO Mehmet Aydın, and two members of the company board were already arrested.
Meanwhile, 34 vehicles belonging to Çiftlik Bank were seized as part of a separate investigation carried out by the chief prosecutor’s office of the western province of Bursa.
Mehmet Aydın, the 26-year-old creator of Çiftlik Bank, a computer-games-inspired Ponzi scheme, has fled to Uruguay.
Turkey is preparing to request the extradition of Mehmet Aydın, Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said on March 17.
Turkey is seeking the extradition of the CEO from Uruguay.
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where revenue paid by new investors generates returns for older investors, rather than from legitimate business activities or profit from financial trading.
Aydın, who launched Çiftik Bank (Farm Bank in Turkish) in 2016, is said to have been inspired by FarmVille.
Players of the game would buy virtual animals and farming equipment with real money.
Çiftlik Bank was said to have some 500,000 members.
Aydın claimed that the money invested by players would be used to build facilities across the country to produce dairy products.
According to a report by the Capital Markets Board (SPK), Aydın collected more than 500 million Turkish Liras (around $128 million) from some 78,000 people between 2016 and 2017.
Çiftlik Bank had also granted franchising for 150 stores across Turkey.
Aydın collected 100,000 liras from each store.
In Istanbul alone, 40 stores were opened. When Aydın fled the country, those stores were closed.
Authorities are also investigating 11 other companies engaged in practices similar to that of Çiftlik Bank.