A band of 11 individuals is in custody of recent hacks into emails, cryptocurrency wallets and user accounts of Bitcoin holders. The Turkish nationals are accused of masterminding the digital currency heist after law enforcement received complaints from victims who lost their cryptocurrencies to the gang. That prompted law enforcement in Turkey to launch an investigation into the latest incident highlighting the security risks associated with the booming digital currencies.
Turkish media reports of 14 individuals who filed numerous complaints with authorities regarding their compromised crypto wallets and funds. Official statements indicate that the hackers would compromise the crypto wallets, transfer the funds to other portfolios or subsequently sell the crypto for fiat.
The Daily Sabah, a popular daily, reports of the Turkish Cybercrime unit uncovering the hackers stolen loot amounts to bitcoins worth over $80,000(437,000 Turkish Lira). Further investigations by the division also led to identifying some of the suspects through a mobile phone they used in registering accounts on different trading platforms.
Upon the successful identification, the special operations department, Polis Ozel Harekat, carried out different raids across Istanbul on October 26. The authorities were able to arrest 11 people of whom ten remain in custody awaiting formal completion of investigations. The Police are also said to have seized six laptops, 22 memory sticks, 18 mobile phones, a tablet, and three hard disks. Some of the suspects were also found in possession of a fake identity card and tow driver's licenses.
Further investigations may have also led to the tracking and capture of other suspects who attempted to withdraw some of the stolen funds in forms of fiat money. Multiple security cameras identified the accused in various ATMs and banks withdrawing possibly stolen funds. Investigators are still looking for the possibility of the more victims falling to the hackers.
Why The Rise In Crypto-Related Crime
It is evident that Turkey has one of the highest percentages of its population investing in the crypto market. Survey statistics indicate that 18% of the country's investors have purchased cryptocurrencies in one form or another over the past few years. But what has been fueling this uptake of cryptocurrency in Turkey?
Recent geopolitical developments might be behind the motive of Turkish residents to adopt BTC. With the US government imposing trade sanctions on Turkey, merchants and the general public were losing out massively. The local currency, Lira, fell by over 50% against the dollar, leading to hyperinflation and loss of value.
Concurrently, Bitcoin seemed like the best option to turn to, as it was evident from the sheer trade volumes that cryptos witnessed when the Lira tanked. Unfortunately, scammers, hackers and other malicious individuals have decided to prey on the growing need for BTC. Such is the case with the Turcoin dividend crypto that turned out to be a Ponzi scheme in June after its founders fled the country with investors’ millions of dollars. It is still unclear whether the losses from crypto theft and defrauding would stop anytime soon.