A woman who made hundreds of millions from trading in cryptocurrency has been jailed for almost a century after she was accused of defrauding some of the customers of less than a million.
The now-convicted woman who was arrested for defrauding some 40 people of TRY 30 million (GBP 830,000) when she took money from them and then suddenly vanished has been sentenced to 81 years in prison and a TRY 394,300 (GBP 10,904) fine.
But astonished investigators who started looking into the case when 27 of the 40 people complained discovered that she had an astonishing 8,300 Bitcoins (worth GBP 238 million at the time and GBP 247.5 million today) in her crypto wallets.
The fraudster, Safiye Gokce Yuce, nicknamed ‘Bitcoin Safiye’, 43, was arrested in November 2019.
Her husband, Oguzhan Yuce, 48, who was arrested alongside her for the same GBP 830,000 scam has been acquitted. She had moved with him to Aydin province six years ago.
Bitcoin Safiye’s husband started work as an electrical engineer at a geothermal power plant.
Safiye on the other hand started her fraudulent cryptocurrency business.
She was jailed after she refused to pay the money back and denied that she had done anything wrong, even though it was apparent she had more than enough assets to settle the debt and avoid such a severe penalty.
The alleged scam started when she went to Aydin State Hospital for a check-up and became acquainted with her first victim, a doctor, after introducing herself as an ‘economist and broker’, according to reports.
She advised the doctor to invest in cryptocurrency, and he agreed to give her money so she could buy Bitcoin on his behalf.
After a while, she paid the doctor a healthy dividend and told him that she could provide a similar service for any contacts he knew.
She soon created a network similar to a pyramid scheme of people from different professions, including nurses and police officers, all investing in Bitcoin, according to local media.
She supposedly invested their money in Bitcoin and paid dividends to the group for about two years.
However, she suddenly disappeared on 23rd August 2019.
Bitcoin Safiye also stopped taking calls from her clients at the same time.
Twenty-seven of the 40 or so victims, suspecting they had been scammed, filed a complaint with the Aydin Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Bitcoin Safiye went into hiding but was found and arrested after the authorities monitored her phone conversations.
She was detained in the city of Bursa at around 3 am on 8th November 2019.
Her assets were seized when the investigation started and her husband was arrested too. It is unclear if they will remain confiscated or whether they will be returned to her once the stolen money has been replaced.
The husband said: “I didn’t know my wife was taking money from people to buy Bitcoin.
“I don’t know who she was doing this job with. I had no idea about the money she took.”
“I did not receive money from anyone on behalf of my wife, as alleged. I do not accept the accusations against me.”
Safiye Gokce Yuce, who denied it was a fraudulent scam, said: “Our job was to perform transactions depending on the rise and fall of the Bitcoin rate.
“I also suffered from this business.
“We didn’t persuade anyone to part with their money. We have not made any commitments to anyone. We do not accept the accusations.”
However, a local court judge has sentenced Bitcoin Safiye to a total of 81 years in prison, three years for each of the 27 victims who filed the case.
She was also fined GBP 10,904.
The verdict still needs to be confirmed by the Turkish Supreme Court, according to reports.