Turkish trade and labor ministries have launched investigations on at least 600 social media influencers who used the beauty center industry for money laundering while depicting a luxurious and conservative life together. They have reportedly used bribes to pass the necessary examinations for clinics, reports Gazete Duvar.
Gazete Duvar investigated Turkish social media influencers, whose luxurious lives have become the center of attention after the government launched a probe against them on charges of tax evasion and money laundering.
After Internet sensation the Polat couple was arrested and their 27 companies were seized by the government, the Trade Ministry and the Labor and Social Security Ministry launched an investigation on 600 influencers.
A Turkish court on Nov. 26 also arrested the Candan sisters on the aforementioned charges along with their ties with organized crime syndicates.
Social media influencers have been posting their lavish lifestyles and frequently appear in magazine programs. They are often followed by millions of people on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok while thousands watch their live streams.
According to our research on open sources, the common feature of the vast majority of the influencers was that they have opened beauty centers since late 2019.
Afterward, influencers began to buy luxury cars and houses in a short time and started to pose with gold and dollars. They also often publish songs and shoot music videos.
At the same time, many of them have gone to Mecca, the holy city of Muslims for pilgrimage, and taken photos in front of the Kaaba. Some also post videos while giving aid to people in need. They often try to balance their extremely luxurious lifestyle with some conservative themes.
Influencers dominate beauty center industry
Şule Kayatürk, using the handle “Şulemsi” on social media, established a beauty and slimming center in 2022. Kayatürk was sharing “ordinary and simple” photos until the establishment of the beauty center according to her first posts on Instagram in 2020.
However, with the establishment of the beauty center, luxury vehicles and houses began to dominate her posts. Some claimed that she has bought 16 villas, 28 apartments, a helicopter, 173 offices, and a yacht withnn a year with the beauty center and the cosmetic products she sold.
One of the most striking names among the influencers is Eylül Öztürk. After opening her first beauty center in June 2020, Öztürk started opening a new beauty center almost every week. One of the accusations against Öztürk who resides in the United States was tax evasion.
One of the influencers who are on the target of accusations was 25-year-old Aymira Koçaklı. In a statement on her Instagram account, Koçaklı claimed that there has been a significant demand for opening franchises of the life center she established under her own name. Koçaklı stated that she had opened five branches in five months and she would open two branches in one day.
We told an official from this chain, which has 20 branches in different provinces, that we wanted to buy the rights of a franchise. An employee told us that the dealership fee was between three and five million Turkish liras, depending on the province. According to the employee, the headquarters earns approximately 60 million liras only from franchise licensing.
Tayyar-Özlem Öz couple
Tayyar-Özlem Öz couple was one of the influencers who joined the beauty center opening trend in 2019. The couple also sells “health products” for children and adults.
Answering the allegations against them, the couple said that the Anti-Trust Board fined them for the advertisements of their products, yet the process was still ongoing.
Influencers bribe officials to pass examinations
A beauty center expert reached out by Gazete Duvar said that it was not so easy to open a proper clinic and that these influencers had no training in the field. “Those who want to open a beauty center have to take exams in vocational schools affiliated with the Education Ministry in order to obtain a certificate. However, these influencers pay between 10,000 and 30,000 liras to get the questions to be asked in the exams in advance.”
According to the expert, there is no obstacle to open several franchises after obtaining this certificate.
After the public outrage against the influencers, some of them began to delete their post depicting luxurious life styles.
Ferhat Yasar, English version by Can Bodrumlu
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