The Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) says about $82 million (TL 1.5 billion) was transferred to TikTok users in Türkiye since January 2021. It said that the money was obtained by a limited number of users, while some accounts were used for money laundering and financing terrorism.
TikTok is massively popular in Türkiye, with about 29 million users but like other social media platforms, it may be used for large-scale fraud as well. The short-form video hosting service is being probed by MASAK now over allegations of money laundering. Initial findings show some livestreaming TikTok users obtained “donations” from others and even created fake accounts for donations to their original accounts, in a bid to rally more people to donate to the original account.
Another finding is mounting suspicions over accounts with a small number of followers that still managed to gather an immense amount of donations although their livestreaming involved nothing but a black screen or a still photo. MASAK says they are suspected to be “donated” through stolen credit cards and thus, used in money laundering. The probe also found that accounts indirectly or directly linked to the terrorist group Daesh reaped large amounts of donations. MASAK says people affiliated with terrorist groups use the platform to collect funds while avoiding surveillance and facilitating cash transfers.
A similar case involving Twitch had made the headlines earlier. In March, authorities detained 18 suspects in the second round of a recent operation over allegations of fraud via Twitch. They are accused of collaborating with Twitch users with a high number of followers to endorse them with cash through stolen credit and debit cards. Twitch accepts only "bits," a virtual currency, for users to financially endorse streamers. The suspects reportedly gave away bits by paying through stolen cards and received cash in return from streamers.