Key learning points
- The FBI adds OneCoin co-founder Ruja “CryptoQueen” Ignatova to its ten most wanted list.
- Prosecutors believe OneCoin has defrauded investors of more than $4 billion.
- Ignatova disappeared in 2017; her whereabouts are still unknown.
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Ruja Ignatova has been added to the FBI’s ten most wanted list for allegedly defrauding investors out of $4 billion via OneCoin.
Wanted for $4 Billion Scams
The hunt for CryptoQueen is intensifying.
Today, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) added Ruja Ignatova, better known in the crypto space as “CryptoQueen”, on the ten most wanted list for “allegedly [defrauding] investors of billions.” Charges against Ignatova include conspiracy to commit wire transfer fraud, wire transfer fraud, conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud.
The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to Ignatova’s arrest. It warns that she may be traveling with armed bodyguards and associates.
Ignatova is the co-founder of OneCoin, a Bulgarian cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme that the prosecution is believed to have defrauded its victims of more than $4 billion. OneCoin would sell educational trading packages to investors for amounts up to six figures; these packs contain tokens that can be used to mine OneCoins. OneCoins could only be exchanged for other currencies on the OneCoin exchange, which closed without notice in January 2017.
Ignatova was the leader of the organization from 2014 to October 2017, after which her brother Konstantin Ignatov took her place. Ignatov and another OneCoin co-founder, Sebastian Greenwood, were arrested in 2019 and 2018 respectively; Ignatov, who pleaded guilty to charges similar to those against Ignatova, faces up to 90 years in prison.
Ignatova, a Bulgarian citizen, disappeared in Athens, Greece, in October 2017. The FBI believes she is traveling with a German passport. She was the subject of a BBC podcast series entitled: The Missing Crypto Queen† She was also recently added to Europol’s Most Wanted list.
Money laundering and wire transfer fraud are persistent problems within the crypto world. Major crypto exchange Binance was recently accused to allow European crime syndicates, Russian drug dealers and North Korean hackers to process their funds through the platform.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.