Police yesterday detained 28 suspects in an investigation into fraud allegedly committed by Detay Maxinet, a company specializing in search engine optimization (SEO).
Detentions followed probes by Istanbul prosecutors and Commerce Ministry in the company on accusations of computer fraud. Nationwide operations were underway to capture three suspects at large when Daily Sabah went to print while police confiscated "digital material" found in raids.
Detay Maxinet offers payment to customers investing in their computing power for SEO services. In simple terms, beneficiaries are paid for leaving their computer open for a period. Media outlets reported that the company basically runs a Ponzi scheme by collecting money from customers paying for three membership packages, promising returns for each package purchase, whose prices range from $590 to about $2,200. For every package bought, the company offers a return of at least $120 a month for keeping their computers open for at least eight hours a day.
The Customs and Commerce Ministry has recently announced that Detay Maxinet was a typical pyramid scheme that offers unrealistic revenues to members, noting that the company offered a yearly income of $57.6 million for members, far higher than revenue projections and collected $16.3 million from more than 18,000 members between January 2017 and February 2018 alone.
Detay Maxinet is among many Ponzi schemes uncovered by authorities in the recent months, with most notorious being Çiftlik Bank, a virtual farm simulator offering real cash to investors. Though such schemes, known as "saadet zinciri" or "chain of happiness" in Turkish, were also popular in the late 1990s, they reemerged increasingly with more gullible people having access to social media where get-rich-quick schemes are heavily advertised.