Manhunt underway for digital currency fraud suspect Özer

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Turkey has dispatched police units to Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia to support efforts there to hunt down Faruk Fatih Özer, the CEO of Turkish cryptocurrency exchange platform Thodex.

An international arrest warrant has been issued for Özer who fled to Albania’s capital Tirana last week and is believed to be carrying codes of those customers’ cryptocurrencies worth up to $2 billion.

Thodex, with more than 390,000 users, last week shut down operations while 70 people were detained in Turkey as part of an investigation into the company.

But 62 of those detained were later released.

Turkish police have set up teams to investigate the whereabouts of Özer and lend support to local security forces’ efforts to pin him down.

He is being sought in Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia.

Turkish police have been in close contact with security forces in those countries and sent teams to Albania, Kosovo and Northern Macedonia to support efforts to apprehend and bring him back to Turkey.

Albanian authorities yesterday raided a house, which they believe Özer was hiding, Demirören News Agency reported.

Two Albanian nationals, who welcomed Özer at the airport upon his arrival, were detained in the raid, the agency said.

Earlier this week, the founder and three employees of Vebitcoin, another Turkish crypto exchange platform, were also detained by police after it halted operations on April 23. Founder İlker Baş, his wife and two employees were later arrested.

Cryptocurrency has been very popular in Turkey. Crypto trading volumes in Turkey hit 218 billion liras ($27 billion) from early February to March 24, up from just over 7 billion liras in the same period a year earlier, according to data from U.S. researcher Chainalysis.

There are around 40 cryptocurrency exchange platforms operating in Turkey.

Hurriyet Daily News

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