Mehmet Aydın, the mastermind of the Çiftlik Bank (Farm Bank) Ponzi scheme, who has been on the run for three years, has turned himself in to authorities at the Consulate General of Turkey in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Aydın, who was 26 years old at the time, created an online scheme in 2016 inspired by a social media game, FarmVille, and collected over 1.1 billion Turkish Liras (around $131 million) from more than 132,000 people and fled the country in 2018.
The game’s victims were lured into investing their money in virtual animals and crops, as Aydın promised high rates of return by directing the money raised into an actual agricultural investment.
According to a report by the Capital Markets Board (SPK), Çiftlik Bank made payments to some 63,000 people amounting to 511 million liras, whereas the remaining amount was transferred to the bank accounts Aydın and his wife held in Northern Cyprus.
When he fled the country in 2018, Turkey issued a red notice for Aydın, who was also added to Interpol’s most-wanted list in 2019.
He was later spotted in Uruguay.
In a video he posted before he turned himself in, Aydın claimed that he was innocent and a “victim.”
The process for Aydın’s extradition has begun, and he is expected to be brought to Turkey in the coming days, Demirören News Agency reported.
Hurriyet Daily News