Istanbul police last night busted a Chinese gang for kidnapping workers and forcing them to run a crypto scam.
Local news agency Demirören Haber Ajansı reported that the outfit, which labeled itself as a “crypto investment consultancy”, hired 101 people to join them for a finance gig in Istanbul.
Authorities allege that the gang trapped the employees in villas within the city and set them to work conning Chinese investors out of their crypto.
The assembled crew included four Kazakhs, two Turkmens, and 95 Chinese nationals, according to another news agency, Anadolu Ajansı. All were allegedly held against their will by the 18 leaders of the operation.
Police exposed the operation after two Chinese captives, Hongwu Z. (29) and Kang W. (28), secretly contacted the Chinese Consulate, which then alerted the local police, reported the news agency.
Following the alert, police arrested six gang leaders and sent the rest of the employees to the local immigration authorities. The raid involved 100 police officers, a video from Demirören shows.
Silivri'de Çinli kripto para çetesi çökertildi.pic.twitter.com/FTLX0nj35N
— Haber365 TV (@haber365tv) March 13, 2021
Turkish police seized about $200k worth of cash in foreign currencies, 712 cell phones, 112 computers, 677 sim cards, and an undisclosed number of hard disk drives and banknote counters.
The suspected scheme operated from nine villas, each housed in complexes sealed off from the outside.
The leaders of the operation, which allegedly took away the passports of the workers who entered the country on tourist visas, never allowed their employees to step outside of the complexes.
The suspected captives were paid generously for the scam, earning $1,000 a month for their work. That’s well above the Turkish minimum wage of $375 per month and the monthly minimum wage of $380 in Shanghai, the Chinese region with the highest minimum wage.
It is not clear why the gang chose to be based out of Istanbul.