German police bust crime ring based at Turkish call center
German authorities have broken up an international crime ring that duped elderly people into handing over their money and valuables to criminals posing as police officers, a German newspaper reported on Dec. 19.
In cooperation with Turkish authorities, German police busted a call center in Turkey’s Aegean province of İzmir where suspects allegedly phoned retirees in Germany and talked them into handing over their valuables to fake officers, the daily Rheinische Post reported.
“In this call center, there were members of families that lived in Germany before but were deported because of crimes,” Thomas Jungbluth of the state criminal police in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia told the Rheinische Post.
“They resettled in Turkey.”
The suspects allegedly told the people they called that their jewelry or money wasn’t safe at home or the bank, and they would send police to collect and keep it for them at a safe place.
“Since we raided the call center, there have been barely any such calls in Germany anymore,” Wolfgang Herrmanns from the state criminal office told the newspaper. “We’ve drained the swamp.”
Earlier this month, around 33 people were nabbed, and 48 locations were searched in addition to the call center in İzmir.
Turkish authorities reported confiscating cash worth 1.7 million euros ($2 million) during the raids, as well as 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of gold and high-end watches. Turkish police also seized 41 luxury cars, 87 properties, including luxury homes and hotels.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office in İzmir, the gang leader is a Lebanese origin Turkish citizen. The leader conducted a call center where the German-speaking gang members were calling the German elderly people, saying, “I am the police officer, Hans. Your name takes part in a terror lawsuit. We can help you erase your name from the file if you pay for that.”
Turkish authorities have estimated that the total amount of the profiteering is around 500 million Turkish Liras ($65.5 mln).
The investigation in İzmir is ongoing.