A real estate company called Gerçek Evim (“My Real Home” in English) that Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) determined should be liquidated has been found to be part of a Ponzi scheme that grossed TL 600 million ($69.2 million), media reports showed Sunday.
The company that operates under SAS Holding is reported to have promised a 10% dividend to its 13,000 customers, accruing nearly $70 million, but the arrangement turned out to be a complete scam, Hürriyet newspaper said in a report.
According to the article, the Ponzi scheme did offer a 10% dividend to its customers initially, who trusted the company after seeing returns on their investment and decided to invest more money.
People with knowledge of the company’s inner workings told Hürriyet that many people invested large sums of money into the scheme in hopes of a financial breakthrough.
As is the case in many other Ponzi schemes, the top echelon became millionaires, able to afford luxurious cars like Ferraris, the paper reported.
“A store attendant four years ago, Mahmut B., wrote to a WhatsApp group that he just bought a Ferrari California that sells for over TL 2 million ($173,000),” the report said.
The company has been in the spotlight recently due to a rather horrifying report. One of the directors of SAS Holding, which owns Gerçek Evim, was killed last month in her car. SAS Holding executive Sibel Koçan was killed by robbers who attempted to steal TL 10 million stashed in her car, leaving with a third of the amount after killing her upon confrontation.
It was also understood that the robbers were among the people that invested in the company, and that they had been following Koçan’s every step. Eight people were arrested following the murder.
After hearing about Koçan’s murder, her ex-husband Süleyman Aydın took his own life too, jumping from the high-rise building he was living in, in Istanbul’s Asian Ataşehir district.
Recently, the founders of another scam, the Çiftlik Bank (Farm Bank) scam, were also both captured by security forces. The “mastermind” of the scam, Mehmet Aydın, was arrested and sent to prison last week. The criminal, who was wanted on an Interpol Red Notice, was extradited from Brazil to Turkey Saturday and has been in detention ever since.
The infamous “Çiftlik Bank” or “Farm Bank” Ponzi scheme promised users of a virtual farming simulator that it would turn virtual animals and crops into real ones if they invested money. Aydın, who devised the enterprise in 2016, made good on his promise and opened farms in the real world and started paying the money back as Farm Bank’s user base grew.
But as with all Ponzi schemes, payments were halted after a while and complaints started piling up. When a criminal investigation was launched and the company’s assets were seized in 2018, he disappeared and emerged in numerous South American countries. Finally, after years on the run, he released a video earlier last week and announced he would surrender. After his extradition process was completed, he was brought to Istanbul and taken into custody.
Fatih Aydın, the elder brother of Mehmet Aydın, was also recently detained by Uruguayan police and is expected to be extradited to Turkey soon. Aydın faces similar charges to his brother, ranging from fraud to money laundering.