Thodex’s founder Faruk Fatih Özer was arrested in Albania’s Valora province on Aug. 31 and is expected to be sent back to Turkey for trial after initial questioning.
Özer is the name behind the significant Thodex rug pull that took place in Turkey in 2021. Özer stole over $2 million. Interpol has been hunting him for 17 months with a red notice upon Turkey’s request.
A major Turkish news source reported that Özer provided a fake ID to the Albanian police when they showed up at his door. However, he was immediately taken into custody, and the Albanian forces could identify Özer through his face ID and fingerprints.
Albania’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Bledar Çuçi, reached out to his Turkish counterpart, Süleyman Soylu, to notify the country of Özer’s arrest.
The Albanian forces are still holding Özer at the time of writing. It is reported that Turkish Interpol confirmed that it completed the necessary paperwork for Özer’s return and is on the move to retrieve him.
According to Turkish watchdog MASAK’s reports, Özer has three accounts holding over $13 million. Most of his funds are held in a wallet belonging to a crypto exchange in Malta. Turkish forces have been looking for 21 other collaborators, and prosecutors are requesting all of them to be sentenced to jail for a total of 40,564 years.
A Turkish lawyer familiar with the Thodex lawsuit commented on the current status of the case and said users could be compensated if the funds Özer allegedly holds can be proven to belong to him. Only then can these funds be confiscated by the legal authorities and distributed to users who lost their investments.
Thodex launched as a local exchange in Turkey in 2017 and grew to over 700,000 users by 2021. It became the first Turkish local exchange to expand globally.
In April 2021, withdrawal transactions were suddenly suspended. Authorities from Thodex calmed their users by saying that the suspension was due to a temporary situation within the company.
They informed the users that Thodex was going through a sales process expected to take five days and that they could continue their transactions after it was over. However, Özer had fled the country by the third day and took over $2 million worth of crypto with him.
The chart above is taken from Chainalysis‘s 2022 Crypto Crime Report. The $2.6 million stolen was near twice the size of the second-largest rug pull of the year.
The severity of the attack motivated Turkish regulators to implement comprehensive crypto regulation. The country took the first step toward creating a full-scale regulatory net in April 2021 and has been working on it since.
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