Story By: Feza Uzay, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
These stunning influencers who were arrested for taking part in an online scam have been released pending trial after spending two months in jail.
Simge Barankoglu, who boasts nearly 1 million Instagram followers, and Yesim Aydin, who has 158,000 Insta fans, were among a group of 20 suspects arrested during simultaneous raids in the Turkish provinces of Izmir, Istanbul, Ankara, Kastamonu, Karabuk, Malatya and Mersin on 9th November.
The gang reportedly scammed netizens by informing them they had won a cash prize on a social media game, but could only claim it by paying a certain amount in taxes first.
During the coordinated police raids, officers seized a number of computers, mobile phones, USD memory sticks, SD cards, and other equipment allegedly used in the online scam.
The 20 suspects are accused of defrauding 250 people across Turkey for around TRY 3 million (GBP 223,000) during a six-month period.
Barankoglu said in a statement: “I make a living by doing advertising on social media. I thought this was like any other advert. I do not know the parties and the complainants. I do not accept the accusations.”
Aydin said: “I make a living with social media adverts. These people contacted me and said they wanted to work with me. I accepted because that’s my job. I would never have accepted it if I knew that fraud was being committed.”
She added: “The police told me that the names given to me were fake. I didn’t try to defraud anyone. I did not contact anyone, I did not ask for money. I just got the advertising fee. I am very sorry.”
Following a court hearing on 7th January, the two influencers, who had been in prison for 56 days, were released by the court pending trial.
The status of the other suspects is unclear, and it is not yet known when the trial will start.