Afghan refugees in Turkey scammed by Afghan criminals: report

Afghan refugees living in Turkey are being scammed by their countrymen when they try to send money to their families in Afghanistan, a Turkish newspaper reported.

Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) has determined that Afghan criminals engaged in drug smuggling and the funding of terror operations are exploiting Afghan refugees in Turkey via bank transfers.

Referring to a probe by MASAK, Turkish Duvar English reported that two Afghan nationals have been arrested on charges of money laundering attempts.

According to the report, the suspects allegedly were using the bank transfers to launder money from drug sales in addition to other illegal activities.

Turkey has been a host country and transit hub for hundreds of thousands of refugees. Afghans constitute the second-largest group of refugees in Turkey after Syrian.

They usually manage to send money home to their relatives via Hawala brokers, an informal money transfer system, as they often cannot open bank accounts.

MASAK has determined that the transfer system has been used to aid in drug dealing, money laundering, and terror operations, the report noted.

MASAK experts examined incoming transfers denominated in large amounts as well as international transfer transactions in accounts of the Turkish state-run Ziraat Bank belonging to Afghan nationals.

Connections to the supply and sale of drugs were identified in the transactions, and the Ziraat Bank accounts of the two Afghan nationals in question were frozen.

According to the report, MASAK had previously determined that members of the terrorist organization ISIS were engaged in similar banking operations in Turkey and Syria, and 22 people were detained to that end in Sept. 2019.