What just happened? The day before it halted all transactions, Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex handled a volume of around $538 million. Now its CEO is the subject of an international manhunt and is suspected of stealing $2 billion worth of crypto assets from Thodex users.
Cryptocurrencies have had a tumultuous evolution, but over the last few years they’ve reached important milestones towards their validation as a legitimate fiat alternative. A notable example is the public listing of Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, as is the adoption of certain cryptocurrencies as a payment option for platforms like PayPal.
However, most people are still put off by the lack of governmental safeties and controls, as well as the greed-fueled enthusiasts that have turned them into speculative assets and continue to bite into consumer hardware availability in their quest to make a profit on mineable coins such as Ethereum.
It also doesn’t help that fraudsters and scammers are flocking to crypto for a feeding frenzy. This week, a Turkish exchange called Thodex was abruptly taken offline and its CEO, Faruk Fatih Ozer, had reportedly gone missing, an event that has left 400,000 users worried that they won’t be able to recover their funds, totaling over $2 billion.
A lawyer immediately filed a criminal complaint against Ozer, alleging the latter has fled to Albania and left Thodex users without the ability to access their digital assets. Today, Turkish police conducted raids with warrants to arrest no less than 78 suspects, after previously searching the company’s offices in Istanbul.
Ozer denied the accusations on Twitter, and promised that user access to funds on Thodex would be restored as soon as possible. He explained the reason for halting trading and withdrawals on the platform was that the company has to investigate a large suspicious transaction involving 30,000 accounts. The executive also noted the company is still recovering from several cyberattacks, one of which burnt a $6 million hole in its coffers.
Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) is currently investigating the matter, and Istanbul police have requested the extradition of Ozer from Albania.