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Authorities ramp up efforts against phone scams

Turkish authorities have stepped up their efforts against crime rings after the reports that nearly 60 people, mostly senior citizens, on average become victims of phone scams every day in Istanbul, the largest metropolis of Turkey with 16 million population.

A special department has been established within the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, where three prosecutors will be assigned to investigate the complaints of telefraud alone.

The move came after nearly 60 people in Istanbul applied to the prosecutor’s office with the complaint that they were defrauded over the phone by unknown persons every day, according to judicial and security sources.

The move came after frequent complaints by citizens that they fell victim to phone scams, with nearly 60 people on average applying to the prosecutor’s office every day.

These victims claim that they are robbed of their earnings by scammers posing as police officers, telling them to hand over their money under the pretense that their bank accounts were implicated in counterterrorism investigations.

The task of the new department will be to prevent fraud by revealing criminal profiles, to ensure that evidence is collected faster and to pave a way so that criminals can be caught and punished as soon as possible.

Prosecutors will be in direct contact with the officials in the Flanking and Fraud Office of the Istanbul Police Department, and in this way, it is aimed not only to apprehend criminals but also to accelerate the process of preventing crime.

[HH] Phone scams common in Turkey

Phone scams are quite common in Turkey. Scammers often pretend to be from law enforcement forces and manipulate people with the fear of terrorism. These scammers pick up on victims after obtaining their basic information, such as name and address.

Posing as police officers, soldiers, 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.

Scammers later tell victims to withdraw all the money from the account and transfer it to one of their accounts, assuring that the money “would be under the protection until the police catch the terrorists who hijacked the account.”

Nilüfer Narlı, a prominent sociology professor in the country, was the latest victim of a scam carried out by a man who portrayed himself as a policeman.

She withdrew some 500,000 Turkish Liras ($36,690) from her bank, took all her jewelry from her house, placed all of it in a bag and delivered it to the suspect.

İsa Altun, a retired police officer who wrote a book on virtual crimes, suggested to citizens that as soon as they receive such a phone call, they should immediately hang up and go to the nearest police station to file a complaint.

He noted that scammers usually choose the elderly and those who live alone, speak in an orderly tone and deceive citizens by inducing fear of terrorism.


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