The cybercrime department of the Turkish National Police has arrested 11 suspects for hacking crypto accounts and stealing bitcoin. According to the Hurriyet newspaper victims lost more than 437 thousand Turkish Lira ($80.000). In total 14 people fell victim to the cybercriminals and the police is looking for more victims.
Police have arrested 11 people, while ten of them are still in jail. They also seized two fake ID cards, 18 cell phones, SIM-cards, 22 memory sticks and some other things.
The cybercrime unit identified the group by tracking new SIM-card numbers that were registered to crypto exchange accounts by the hackers. The group sold (some) of the stolen cryptocurrency online and withdrew money from ATMs and at banks. The police could identify them by following their trail and watching multiple security cameras.
Turkey has seen some economic problems in the past few months. The Lira lost 50 percent of its value against the dollar. This resulted in renewed interest in cryptocurrencies in the country, and in turn cybercrime increased.
Cryptocurrencies are not taxed in Turkey. But it’s not easy to spend bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in the country. There are no Bitcoin ATMs and hardly any points of sale accept BTC or other currencies. A few exchanges have been approved by the government, but the Recep Tayyip Erdogan run AKP government has proven itself to shutdown services whenever they feel like it.
BTC Turk, one of the biggest crypto exchange services in the country, had to shutdown its withdrawal function some time ago. Nowadays they allow withdrawals, but when you do consumers pay 3 Turkish Lira fee and on top of that some taxes (VAT).