Turkey is preparing to request the extradition of Mehmet Aydın, the 26-year-old creator of Çiftlik Bank, a computer-games-inspired Ponzi scheme, from Urugay, Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül announced on March 17.
“Our prosecutors are studying the extradition options of this individual [Mehmet Aydın]. A thorough investigation is being carried out, looking at several aspects of the case, including its international dimension,” Gül said in a televised interview with CNN Türk.
According to Gül, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock on February 18 filed a criminal complaint against Çiftlik Bank and the authorities imposed an international travel ban on Mehmet Aydın following the legal complaint.
“However, it later emerged that Mehmet Aydın had already left the country before the travel ban was issued,” Gül said.
Aydın has fled to Uruguay.
The minister warned the public against such Ponzi Schemes.
According to recent media reports there are eleven other companies engaged in practices similar to that of Çiftlik Bank.
The authorities are also investigating the operations of similar companies, which include Birlik Beraberlik Tarım Hayvancılık İthalat İhracat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi, Ekolium Bilişim Yazılım Tarım Hayvancılık Otomotiv Turizm Gıda Lokantacılık Sanayi Ticaret Anonim Şirketi, Ukash İnternet Hizmetleri Limited Şirketi, Skp Teknoloji Sanal Market Gıda Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi, Cashçiftlik, Maden.İm, Elit Çiftlik, Çiftlikshop, Çiftlikmania, Bizim Tavuklar, and Çılgın Tavuklar.
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where revenue paid by new investors generates returns for older investors, rather than from legitimate business activities or profit from financial trading.
Millions of liras collected through Çiftlik Bank scheme
Mehmet Aydın, who launched Çiftik Bank [Farm Bank in Turkish] in 2016, is said to have been inspired by FarmVille.
Players of the game would buy virtual animals and farming equipment with real money.
Çiftlik Bank was said to have some 500,000 members.
Aydın claimed that the money invested by players would be used to build facilities across the country to produce daily products.
He also promised unrealistically high 40 percent return on their investments.
According to a report by the Capital Markets Board (SPK), Aydın collected more than 500 million Turkish Liras [some $128 million] from some 78,000 people between 2016 and 2017.
He repaid a total of 398 million liras to 62,000 people and he transferred the remaining 113 million liras to Northern Cyprus.
It has also emerged that Çiftlik Bank had granted franchising for 150 stores across Turkey.
Aydın collected 100,000 liras from each store.
In Istanbul alone 40 stores were opened. When Aydın fled the country, those stores were closed.