Police in the western city of İzmir arrested members of a gang involved in a phone scam that targeted 46 German nationals. The crackdown came after a German citizen of Turkish origin filed a complaint with İzmir police saying that they were defrauded by the gang members, who posed as police officers, military officers and prosecutors. The victim said they unwittingly transferred money to a woman residing in İzmir in the scam.
The police arrested 20 suspects accused of collecting more than 278,000 euros from Germans citizens, in a series of scams.
Victims in Germany told Turkish police that they were forced to send money after one gang member identifying himself as "Kommissar [Inspector] Wolf" threatened them with legal action because of crimes concocted by the gang members.
"Kommissar Wolf," identified as R.F., was the leader of the gang, police said and was among the detained. A search of his house found documents in German and Turkish, apparently forged legal paperwork used in the scam, as well as two guns and drugs. Police identified the woman, who the victim wired the money to, as R.F.'s girlfriend.
This is the second big operation since 2014 against scamming groups from Turkey defrauding German citizens. In 2014, police detained 73 suspects from İzmir and in Istanbul, accused of running phone scams targeting Turkish and German citizens. They were accused of collecting about 8 million euros from the victims.
Phone scammers in Turkey pretend to be police or military officers and manipulate people's fear of terrorism. Scammers pick up on unsuspecting victims whose basic information such as name and address they obtained beforehand. Posing as police officers, chiefs or prosecutors on the phone, they tell victims that their bank account has been "hijacked" by terrorist groups and that the groups were using it to finance terrorist activities.
If a victim falls for it, scammers tell them to withdraw all the money from the account and transfer it to one of their accounts, assuring that the money "would be under the state's guarantee until the police capture the terrorists who hijacked the account."