Table of Contents
- $10K For Missing OneCoin Founder
- “The Missing Cryptoqueen” Podcast
- Pyramid Scheme Camouflaged As Crypto
The FBI has added missing OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova to its top ten most wanted fugitives list over charges of defrauding investors and absconding.
$10K For Missing OneCoin Founder
Dubbed “The Missing Cryptoqueen” by a BBC podcast, Ruja Ignatova is now an FBI’s most wanted fugitive. The bureau published a notice on Thursday offering a reward of $100,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the Bulgarian national, who has been accused of running a crypto-based scam through her company, OneCoin. Normally, the FBI's most-wanted list features fugitives who the general public might be able to track down. The charges brought against Ignatova claim that she had allegedly defrauded investors of funds worth $4 billion (£3.5 billion), through her Ponzi scheme, which is also being called “one of the biggest scams in history.” U.S. officials signed an arrest warrant for Ignatova back in 2017, soon after which she disappeared and has been missing since.
“The Missing Cryptoqueen” Podcast
The case first received global attention thanks to the BBC podcast hosted by Jamie Bartlett, who had been on Ignatova’s trail for years. According to Bartlett, Ignatova disappeared in October 2017 with at least $500 million (£411m), which has helped her evade law enforcement for years. Bartlett even believes that in addition to having acquired high-quality fake identity documents, Ignatova might have even changed her appearance. He has also conjectured that she might no longer even be alive. Bartlett believes that the FBI’s announcement increases the chances of tracking her down. Coincidentally, Europol also added Ignatova to its most-wanted list last month, with a $5,200 reward on information leading to her capture.
Pyramid Scheme Camouflaged As Crypto
According to the charges, Ignatova founded OneCoin back in 2014. It was a self-described “cryptocurrency” that ran on the basic fundamentals of a pyramid scheme. Buyers would be incentivized with a commission if they managed to sell the currency to more people. However, according to the FBI, unlike other cryptocurrencies, OneCoin was never based on blockchain technology and hence held no value. The exact charges brought against her by the FBI include eight counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud. Another individual associated closely with the scam is former attorney Mark Scott, who was charged and tried by the U.S. government in 2019. In addition, Ruja Ignatova’s brother, Konstantin Ignatova, was also arrested on charges of money laundering and fraud in Los Angeles in March 2019. He has pleaded guilty.
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