Scam ring extorts millions from elderly Germans with Gülen threats

A crime ring based in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya has extorted around seven million Euros from elderly German citizens by claiming they are under investigation as alleged members of the Gülen movement, a religious organisation the Turkish government accuses of plotting the failed 2016 coup attempt.

Eleven were arrested in Antalya, where they were allegedly running a call centre to target the German citizens, after a five-month investigation by Antalya police department’s fraud squad, Turkish news site OdaTV reported on Tuesday.

The investigation was launched after German police passed information on the scam to their Turkish counterparts. Three German officers reportedly collaborated in the investigation into the ring, which was composed of Turks who had grown up in Germany and spoke the language at native level.

 The scammers used a programme to call the elderly German citizens, who were presumably of Turkish origin, and pose as German police officers. They told the victims they were under investigation in Turkey for supporting the Gülen movement and asked for 12,500 euros to lift the arrest warrant against them.

A pair of accomplices in Germany would then visit the victims to collect the money, reportedly successfully cheating 511 German citizens.

The scam ring was reportedly living a luxury lifestyle in Antalya, a well-known holiday destination on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

The Gülen movement has been outlawed as a terrorist organisation in Turkey, where hundreds of thousands accused of links to the movement have been jailed or dismissed from their jobs under a state of emergency in place since shortly after the coup attempt.

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