Two brothers working at a gas station swindle over $1 billion from a bank

Bizarrely, they paid off their relatives' debts before getting caught.
Can Emir
Scammer holds smartphone, steals money online.motortion/iStock

Two brothers from the Black Sea province of Samsun, Turkey, have been detained after embezzling a Turkish bank of over $1 billion (16 billion Turkish liras).

According to the police investigation reported in Dünya (in Turkish), two brothers in their 20s, both working in a gas station, were using a mutual account they had opened at a private bank.

The story goes that one day, the younger brother discovered a loophole in the mobile banking application and after making some 70 transactions, he transferred 16 billion liras from a bank’s investment account to their own account.

The loophole discovered by the younger brother allowed the duo to withdraw as much cash as they wanted through an investment account connected via the bank's mobile app. The account, which was reserved for customers who were conducting stock trading, reportedly had a bug.

The younger brother told investigators that they had no money in the account when he checked it on February 26. He then selected the "investment account" option on the app when a menu came up and asked him to type in the amount of cash he wished to withdraw. "I randomly typed a number and saw the amount I wrote was transferred to my account. I decided to try typing more and, every time that amount was transferred to my account. Then we saw there were some 16 billion in our account" he reportedly said. 

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Clearing debts

"I told my family about the situation and we decided to pay the outstanding debts of anyone we knew. I did it with my brother and we wired TL 80,000 to our relatives in debt" the younger brother explained. 

Two days later the bank found out about the situation and a bank official called them to inquire about the "massive amount of money" transferred to their account. The brothers told the official that they transferred it from their investment account but the account was blocked during the phone call.

The first thing the brothers did with their wrongfully acquired fortune was to buy two brand-new mobile phones for themselves, before transferring some more hundreds of thousands of liras to buy a new luxury car.

According to the police files, the brothers then started paying off the debts of their family members, sharing the wealth with their loved ones.

"We also spread the news to people in the surrounding areas to visit us if they had any debts," the elder brother said. The total amount of debts cleaned is unknown.

But, the younger brother said they were not "malevolent" and added, "If we were evil-minded, my brother and I would leave the country with the money. But we did not."

Carrying it a step further, his elder brother then said they did not "con anybody" and accused the bank of not blocking their account and letting them acquire more and more money with each transaction.

"We were going to donate the money to the state," he added.

The two brothers were detained but released with judiciary control and had their bank accounts frozen.

This hacking stunt wasn't as large as certain hacks that see up to $3.6 billion in cryptocurrency disappear but it's still noteworthy given how easily they were able to access the accounts. There are a number of ways to keep hackers, even if it's just two brothers clearing off debts, at bay, and they're always good to remember.