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Published: January 5, 2022

Written by: David Kent

  • Twitch spotted a massive in and outflow of Bits donations across 150 streamer accounts
  • The suspected offending parties were mostly residing in Turkey at the time
  • An official report by a local news agency said that 40 suspects have been now arrested

Turkish authorities have swept a network of 150 streamers who used Twitch to reportedly launder dirty money. Some 40 people have now been arrested – more can be coming next.

Twitch Spots Unusual Bits Donation Pattern

This is one of the biggest scams in Twitch’s history, and it has generated millions for opportunistic content creators who bent the rules to the point where they have now been arrested. A total of 40 people has been apprehended in connection to abusing Twitch’s monetization systems to launder ill-gotten gains.

The news isn’t exactly shocking given that Twitch already reported legal proceedings against 150 streamers, mostly from Turkey, who have participated in the money laundering scheme that could easily result in as much as $10 million having been run through the platform.

This is not good. The scheme was very simple in nature, but that was its fatal flaw. The participants got greedy too quick, too soon – or perhaps they were just doing what they were being told.

Streamers Refund 80% of Donations

The streamers involved were making quite a hefty bit of money thanks to Bits donations which were surprising given the streamers’ fairly limited audiences. What raised another red flag was the fact that those streamers would then refund around 70-80% of the donations they received tipping investigators off that something underhand was going on.

Evidently, the geographical proximity of the bulk of the offenders was another reason why Twitch homed in on the offenders. One streamer, Mehmet Yagiz “Ned” Ipek, admitted to being targeted by Bits donations. Now, though, an official news report by Turkey’s Demirören News Agency (DHA) confirms the arrests as of Tuesday, January 4.

The arrestees are all suspected of having collaborated in the Bits money laundering scheme. While video game offenses rarely get much scrutiny, an organized criminal group that has knowingly laundered possibly ill-gained proceeds is definitely in the remit of authorities. Tipped of by Twitch, Turkey has the means to sweep through the entire network and arrest those participants who reside on its territory.

Meanwhile, Ned has maintained his innocence from the scheme and argued that the person who managed the Bits donation scheme never spoke to him personally, but through an intermediary. Ned denied involvement in any criminal conspiracy.

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