Three men who have been on the run after defrauding thousands of Turkish soldiers of around 450 million Turkish Liras have been were spotted in a hotel in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Sezgin Girgin, Cem Karataş and Fuat Işık had collected 450 million liras for “high profit” investment purposes through Forex on behalf of around 5,000 soldiers before disappearing.
The three men recently appeared in a photo taken in an Arbil hotel.
The scam started four years ago in the southeastern Turkish province of Van's gendarmerie command, before spreading through middlemen to other military posts in provinces including Istanbul, Tokat, Tunceli and Şırnak.
Cem Karataş is reported to be the leader of the gang, which is accused of “fraud and forming a criminal organization.” Despite the large number of criminal complaints filed by the victims, no clue was found about the whereabouts of the gang after they went missing.
In the latest Facebook message that the gang used to communicate with their targets, they said they had lost the money collected and to regain it they had made oil investment in Iraq. However, they said the Islamic State (IS) had seized their oil in May 2015, leading them to lose 70 percent of the cash. They were therefore planning to make a Forex investment with the remaining 30 percent to repay their customers, Hürriyet reported.
Sergeant Ercan Ateş, who acted as middlemen, committed suicide in September 2015 after collecting money from 92 people. In his last voice recording, Ateş spoke about the depression he had fallen into after not receiving the money back.
“If they don't pay the money back by Sept. 17, do whatever you want to me. You all possess guns, shoot me. All of my credit cards have been blocked. I have even had to ask for money from my parents” he said.