Police: ‘Battle royale’ gamers stole $2.47M from Turkish crypto firm

Police in Turkey have busted a number of suspects thought to be involved in the theft of some 13 million Turkish liras ($2.47 million) in cryptocurrency from an Istanbul-based company, in the latest success for law enforcement against crypto scammers.

Twenty-four suspects have been arrested in a simultaneous operation, after police received reports of a theft of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin Core (BTC), Ether (ETH), and Ripple (XRP), the Daily Sabah reported.

After being referred to the Istanbul Cybercrime Branch Office, investigations revealed that two of the company’s virtual currency accounts had been hacked, with the funds transferred to several other wallet addresses.

Cybercrime investigators linked the wallet addresses to players on popular multiplayer battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), which led officers directly to the suspects.

Police arrested the suspects in a co-ordinated raid spanning Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Afyonkarahisar, Bursa, Edirne, Bolu and Antalya provinces, in one of the largest operations of its kind in Turkey in recent years, according to the report.

Amounts around $10,000 in cash and around $245,000 in cryptocurrency were founded during the raids, with authorities attempting to recover other amounts that may have arisen as a result of the hack.

The suspects were brought to answer before the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. According to the news outlet, “Two of the 24 suspects were released by the prosecutor’s office after their legal procedures were completed at the police station. 22 suspects were referred to the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. Six of the suspects were arrested by the court, while 16 suspects were released on condition of judicial control.”

The case is a notable example of crypto scammers operating under the radar, using the guise of an online multiplayer game to communicate about their plans.

Security remains a problem for crypto exchanges and investors, with funds held in hot wallets at constant risk of theft through hacks, not to mention the risks of rampant BTC and ICO fraud.

While local law enforcement appears to have successfully foiled the plot in this instance, the challenge for police and the crypto community remains how best to tackle the rogue elements that continue to exploit crypto.

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