Turkish Twitch influencers nabbed in $10 mln fraud case
Some 40 suspects, including 31 famous Turkish Twitch influencers, have been detained in simultaneous operations in 11 provinces after police determined a crime syndicate laundered some $10 million “using social media celebrities.”
Muhammed Işık, Boran Mahmutoğlu, Figen Benli, Dilara Esma Toprakçı and Sude Eldem are among the influencers who were nabbed on late Jan. 4.
According to private national TV broadcaster CNN Turk, Turkish cyber police units found out in the second half of 2021 that “some unidentified criminals were profiteering from stolen credit cards.”
After a deep investigation, police saw that “this crime syndicate was buying Bits (Twitch virtual money) with fraud money” and “sending the Bits to Twitch influencers under the pretense of donation.”
Twitch influencers are accused of “exchanging Bits to real currencies” and “sending it back to the criminals after taking their commissions.”
The laundered money over Twitch is around $10 million, the daily Hürriyet reported on Jan. 5.
According to police sources, the prosecuter’s office in Istanbul on early Jan. 4 issued warrants for 44 suspects in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Antalya, Muğla, Aydın, Eskişehir, Kocaeli, Balıkesir, Manisa and Denizli, including 31 Twitch influencers. “Six of the suspects are children,” officials said.
Some 40 have been detained and the manhunt for four suspects was ongoing until the daily went to print.
According to the Turkish media reports, the cyber police units have been tracing the suspects since the second half of 2021.
In November 2021, the prosecution’s office in Istanbul asked for information from many Twitch influencers, including Ahmet Sonuç, known as “Jahrein” in Twitch and Youtube, about the ongoing system on social media.
The same month, some social media users started a hashtag, saying “Temiz Twitch,” (Clean Twitch) on Twitter to criticize those “laundering money over Twitch.”
Gürsel Tekin, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), brought “donations on Twitch” into the Turkish Parliament’s agenda in 2021.
“We are face to face with an important crime with international links,” he said in a statement on Jan. 5 after police operations.
“The value of the fraud is said to be more than $10 million. The realities will come to light amid the lawsuit process,” Tekin added.
According to Tekin, neither officials of Twitch nor the platform’s owner Amazon have “made any statement until now.”