The Turkish money laundering Twitch scandal explained
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Professional VALORANT players from Turkey have been caught up in a money laundering scandal involving Twitch donations and bits. The scandal broke Saturday, as Jake Lucky first reported on the incident, saying “A MASSIVE Twitch scandal is ongoing in the Turkish scene involving dozens of esports players and streamers money laundering through bit donations. After Twitch’s massive payout leak, people noticed several smaller streamers making absurd amounts of money from bits.”

Lucky went on to explain that approximately 300 people have been found to have used stolen credit cards to donate bits to Twitch streamers. The streamers then gave back some of the money to the bad actors and pocket the rest. Bots are also used to watch ads from the streamers to accrue bits as well and donate them. Lucky later claimed that Riot Games Turkey is expected to levy bans against the players involved. Riot Turkey has yet to issue any bans at the moment and released a statement about the scandal Monday.

“We are aware of the ongoing situation and following closely,” Erdinç İyikul, the country manager for Riot Turkey, said in a statement. “Due to the sensitivity of the issue, we can only decide on any actions to take based on the necessary investigations from relevant authorities. We haven’t taken any action yet or shared any information around our plans.”

Players admit to involvement in the money laundering scandal

After Lucky’s tweet, more information came out about the scandal, including professional players and others admitting involvement, along with how they were swept up in the conspiracy. Semih “LEGOO” Selvi (a longtime Turkish FPS player), Alihan “deNc” İpek (the brother of Acend player Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek) and Ekrem “Logicman” Aydın have all admitted to involvement in the scandal in some form.

LEGOO and Logicman have admitted to participating and profiting off of the donations. LEGOO said he made about $2,000 off of the scheme in a now-deleted Twitlonger, while Logicman took the blame on stream and said he will not return to streaming. Both players have left BBL Esports as VALORANT players. DeNc has admitted to being an intermediary for people wanting to get involved in the scheme, but claimed, in a Twitlonger, to not have participated or profited. Sources close to Upcomer have confirmed his involvement.

“I was told, ‘Bro, I have arranged a very good job for you. They will watch advertisements from America, earn bits and send them to you. Then we will split it between us, it’s completely legal,’” LEGOO said in his Twitlonger, confirmed by a translator with Upcomer. “At that time, I was not earning any money from streaming or esports. And at that time, I was running the coffee house and truck for 12-13 hours a day. Is it that easy to make money? I jumped at the offer like an idiot and said ok.”

“Later on, when I realized that the bits were coming anonymously, I became suspicious and wanted to quit. But since I was on the rise at the time and the person who got me into it had leverage on me, even though I told the person many times that I didn’t want to continue, I was forced to do it,” LEGOO said.

LEGOO, deNc and Logicman have all denied having knowledge that the scheme was illegal. Two anonymous players spoke with Upcomer’s Yinsu Collins and shared a similar sentiment. According to the two anonymous players, they were approached privately by a person under the Discord username Kojou after he donated bits to them. Kojou explained how the scheme would work and how it was, allegedly, legal. One of the players said he wanted out after a few months as Kojou had started to become annoying. Kojou allegedly threatened the player with a massive donation that would be flagged by Twitch but the player stopped anyway.

After the scam broke to the world on Sunday, Kojou disappeared and did not respond to any messages. Both players said they have not been contacted by Riot Games at this time.

“I’ve never been so stressed in my life,” one player said. “I can’t enjoy food or sleep, and I am just constantly sad and worried that people do not believe the truth. I want people to know the truth and to make sure we stop the witch hunt for people that didn’t know about these scams.”

DeNc released a Twitlonger on Monday, which included screen shots of his Discord conversation with Kojou (now under the name Deleted User e3c55eb5). The conversations detailed Kojou explaining how the process worked and asking if cNed would be interested in participating.

“Show cNed this. This streamer has 86 average viewers and 14 subs. Streamer has 53$ of their own. I divided 200k bits into five days. It adds up to 2k$ paid. If they can get this cNed would take 500k but I do not want to risk the streamers so I do not sell more than 200k bits in a month. One million bits are too much. If I send it to a streamer they might notice. There are millions of streamers. Twitch can not check every single one of them. Bits are always sent in other countries; it would not bat an eye. I have been doing this job for 14 months and there were no problems and there will not be a problem. Do not worry about it,” Kojou said in the message, according to a translator with Upcomer.

“I talked with cNed and he does not want to be in something like this,” deNc responded. “We do not want to gain money unfairly. Thanks.”

Later in the direct message, Kojou claims that he is not using stolen credit cards and everything is above board. The conversation later involves deNc helping Kojou get in contact with two people who would like to be a part of the presumed legal undertaking.

“Hello I want to reach these two people. Can you help? I am already in their chats so they will know if you tell them my nickname,” Kojou said.

“Dude you are pinning me down,” deNc responded. “I can not focus on my work. I will talk to them and if they lean towards, I will let you know.”

CNed went on his personal Twitch channel Monday to discuss his, and his brother’s, involvement in the scandal.

“That guy sent me the bits, the bits transferred to me. I didn’t report those bits to Twitch, I acknowledge that,” cNed said on stream. “I didn’t report to Twitch and took the money. I repeat once again, the guy did not contact me. According to what my older brother told me, he threatened with his routine: ‘I’ll send huge amount of bits to your channel and cause it to shut down,’ tactic hence I was put in a position where I had to send half of the money to him. I acknowledge that even though I did not inted to, technically I got involved in this, unfortunately. I wish I could think of returning the bits, if only I could do this.”

The scandal has reached Turkish parliament

The money laundering scandal has even garnered the attention of the Turkish government, with the deputy of the Republican People’s Party issuing a statement condemning the act and implying action against the players and content creators involved. They could potentially face legal ramifications if caught.

Riot Games has only given out the statement above so far; Twitch has not responded to comment on the issue.

This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available.

Updated on 11/1 at 1 p.m.: DeNc has released another Twitlonger detailing his interactions with Kojou, according to a machine translation.

Updated on 11/1 at 1:23 p.m.: BBL Esports released a statement saying they have terminated their contracts with streamers Uğur “pankyy” Taş and EasterGamersTv, professional players LEGOO, Kerimhan “kero” Duman, Logicman, Dilara “Dilara” Toprakçı and Gizem “Cassiex3” Yılmaz. They have also released academy players KuziGang Erenyazici and pelinb.

Updated on 11/1 at 6:08 p.m: Upcomer confirmed a translation of cNed’s stream.

Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Upcomer. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter.