Istanbul Police Department has initiated an investigation, coordinated by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, into organized crime involving qualified robbery and sophisticated fraud aimed at tourists in the city.
Tourists Lured into a Trap with Foreign Women
It was discovered that officials and employees of an entertainment venue located in Yıldız, Beşiktaş, would meet tourists in districts such as Beyoğlu, Fatih, Şişli, and Beşiktaş and invite them to their establishment. Here, foreign women, who were actually employees but posed as customers, were directed to tables with tourists, pretending to have met them at the venue. Tourists were then served alcohol against their wishes and subsequently forced to make payments ranging from 250,000 to 300,000 TL (US$9,000 – US$11,000).
Fraud and Threats
The crime network members, who forcibly obtained payments through fraud or threats under the pretext of ‘card not working,’ had previously faced legal actions for “abuse of trust – fraud” but continued to commit these crimes despite all proceedings. It was found that the venue was sealed in July due to administrative proceedings but the crimes continued, with 79 different incidents occurring in 2022-2023.
26 Suspects Detained
Out of the 46 suspects involved in the incidents, 13 foreign women were found to be abroad. On September 29, 2023, operations were carried out in Istanbul, Tekirdağ, Kırklareli, Antalya, and Ağrı, resulting in the detention of 26 individuals. The processing of the detained suspects at the police station is ongoing.
Tourists Planning to Visit Istanbul
For tourists planning to visit Istanbul in the near future, it is crucial to stay informed and vigilant about potential scams and fraudulent activities in entertainment venues and other establishments. Here are some precautionary measures to consider:
- Stay Informed: Research and choose reputable venues and avoid accepting invitations from strangers to unknown places.
- Be Vigilant: Be cautious about excessive or unauthorized charges and check your bill thoroughly before making payments.
- Seek Assistance: If you suspect you are a victim of a scam, do not hesitate to contact local law enforcement immediately.
- Use Secure Payment Methods: Opt for secure payment methods and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Stay Connected: Keep in touch with your country’s consulate and know the emergency contact numbers in Istanbul.
By staying informed and vigilant, tourists can enjoy the rich culture, history, and entertainment that Istanbul has to offer while avoiding falling prey to scams and fraudulent activities.