Faruk Fatih Özer, the founder of the now defunct cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, who reportedly vanished with $2 billion in digital assets belonging to investors, has been arrested by Albanian authorities after he fled from Turkey in 2021.
Albania’s Internal Minister Bledar Chuchi informed his Turkish counterpart Suleyman Soylu that Özer was apprehended in Vlore, one of the most prominent cities in the country known for its deep culture and tradition, and biometrics results confirmed his identity.
Özer Rug Pulls $2 Billion
In April last year, the Turkish cryptocurrency exchange abruptly stopped operations, citing unspecific partnership transactions. The sudden suspension of operations spurred negative reactions and fraud allegations from its 700,000 users who could not access their assets on the platform.
The exchange told its customers that the platform would remain closed for a few days until the share transfer was completed.
After the given date elapsed, some of the users who could not access their accounts took to social media to voice their concerns, noting that they may have been scammed, prompting law enforcement officers to open investigations on the platform.
Authorities found during the investigation that Özer had left the country for Thailand with $2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies belonging to 391,000 investors. He also pulled down all his social media accounts which fueled speculation that he was a fraudster.
Following his escape, many users filed criminal complaints against the exchange, claiming they were victims of fraudulent schemes perpetrated by the company.
Wanted for Fraud
Shortly after the crypto exchange founder disappeared with users’ funds, the country’s Justice Ministry issued a red notice to warn international law enforcement agencies about wanted fugitives. According to a local news report, the government also issued arrest warrants for 80 suspected individuals associated with the exchange, with 68 already arrested by the authorities.
The report also noted that Özer was wanted for alleged “fraud and founding of a criminal organization.”
After several months of searching, the suspect has finally been arrested today by Albanian law authorities. The Turkish Internal Ministry noted that the government had launched extradition proceedings to procure him from the country.