Manhunt has been launched for a Bitcoin scammer who allegedly went on the run with $2billion after being dumped by his model girlfriend
Faruk Fatih Ozer, 27, the founder and chairman of Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, remains at large as 62 people were arrested in connection with the alleged scam.
It is thought Ozer could be hiding in Thailand, where that sort of money can buy all sorts of anonymity, protection and even immunity.
But, the Sun Online understands cops fear Ozer might even be dead as the trail has gone cold after he was last spotted at a hotel in Albania in May.
Ozer’s alleged scam is believed to be the largest con in Turkish history as he is believed to have hoodwinked some 400,000 people in what is feared to be an “exit scam”.
Thodex reportedly had an exchange volume of some $12billion every month before suddenly going offline, locking users out of their crypto.
He is also believed to have fled shortly after breaking up with his Instagram model girlfriend, Eslem Sena Nur.
Eslem said she had dumped him because he was far too jealous – and had never realised that he was the head of such a big company or that he could be guilty of stealing.
The model, who has 20,000 followers on Instagram, revealed she also rebuffed his repeated advances after he they broke up as he attempted to convince her to get back with him, saying he was “too possessive”.
The couple had met while at a dinner – and a friendship bloomed into a relationship, before his behaviour led to the model to cut ties with him.
“Fatih was a brilliant and very reliable person. I was very surprised when I heard that he did such a thing,” she said.
“He didn’t tell me anything about cryptocurrency. I knew that he had a software company. He also said that he had a company abroad.
“I remember that it was in Singapore. He was such a good man that I’m still in shock.”
And she lamented that she had once trusted him, blasting him for allegedly conning people – adding: “I could have been one of those victims”.
Ozer is now subject to an Interpol Red Notice – which orders local authorities to arrest the suspect for extradition – for aggravated fraud and criminal enterprise.
Thodex was an exchange where users could store, buy and sell cryptocurrencies – but the website abruptly went offline on April 19, leaving customers unable to access their funds.
And at the same time Ozer is believed to have boarded a plane to Albania at Istanbul Airport on April 20 and he is suspected of taking with him access to around $2billion.
Prosectuors believe fraud was carefully planned with a lucrative offer for investors to switch their crypto accounts over to Thodex.
And then they gained five days in which to liquidate the assets and flee by claiming that a new partner had been found on the site was going down for five days to restructure and organise the merger.
Thodex pledged to it would give away 2million Dogecoins to investors who moved their assets onto the platform before it went dark.
Among the dozens arrested over the alleged scheme include Ozer’s brother Guven Ozer and sister Serap Ozer – both of who have reportedly been jailed.
Police launched dawn raids across eight different cities – including Istanbul where they searched the company’s HQ and seized computers.
Some 78 arrest warrants have been issued in relation to Thodex.
Thodex has claimed the exchange was shut down due to a lack of funds, while Ozer is said to have fled as he would have “either [been] arrested or committed suicide”.
The company’s website remains live – but is now just one page with a 700 word statement blaming a cyber attack and a broken logo.
The statement – seemingly written by Ozer – denies the firm “victimised” customers, calling allegations he escaped with $2billion “baseless”, and describing a “smear campaign” against him.
MAN OF MYSTERY
And at the end it states he will be “returning to Turkey” in a few days – but it has now been 107 days since he boarded the flight to Albania.
Ozer is believed to be hiding out in either Thailand, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, or North Macedonia.
Four teams of five Turkish detectives have been sent to the European nations on the list to search for Ozer with cooperation from local cops.
CCTV camera footage has been released of him which shows him at a hotel in Albania – but the trail appears to have gone cold since as he may have moved on or died.
Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu has also said that £2.7million was seized from three bank accounts held in Ozer’s names as they work to recover the missing funds.
Ozer’s alleged escape came just days before Turkey was planning to introduce a ban on the use of cryptocurrencies to pay for goods and services on April 30.
Turkish people had reportedly been increasingly using crypto to protect their savings due to a sharp decline in the lira.
New plans have seen the government propose regulation on cryptocurrency as soon as October.