Cryptocurrency Queen Ruja Ignatova accused of billions of dollars in fraud The FBI’s most wanted list

Cryptocurrency Queen Ruja Ignatova accused of billions of dollars in fraud The FBI's most wanted list
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Ruja Ignatova promised that her cryptocurrency OneCoin will be the next Bitcoin. The only problem: it did not exist.

The FBI today added Ignatova, a Bulgarian national, accused of defrauding investors of about $ 4.1 billion in a fake cryptocurrency the list of most searched. The 41-year-old woman has been in custody since October 2017, just days after an arrest warrant was issued in the United States.

In a press release, the FBI called OneCoin a “massive fraud scheme” and offered up to $ 100,000 for information leading to Ignatova’s arrest.

Special Agent Ronald Shimko said: “There are many victims around the world who have suffered material damage as a result.” “We want to take him to court.”

According to federal prosecutors, Ignatova, a German citizen with a PhD in private international law, founded OneCoin in 2014 and began promoting it as a “Bitcoin Killer” around the world. It is estimated to have attracted billions of dollars from more than 3 million people in 175 countries. Prosecutors say the coin he sold never existed on a public blockchain – only in the minds of its creators.

In 2019, accusing Ignatova and her business partners, federal prosecutors in Manhattan called OneCoin a “pyramid scheme based on smoke and mirrors rather than zeros and ones.” They claimed that Ignatova, her brother and others working for the company advertised that the cryptocurrency was produced on computers and priced based on market demand. In fact, prosecutors claimed that the creators never mined a single coin and set up the company “intending to use it to deceive investors.”

In an e-mail to the co-founder, prosecutors said Ignatova described her strategy of quitting OneCoin as follows: “Take the money and run away and blame someone else for it.”

For a time, Ignatova made a fortune from OneCoin earnings, and in 2016 bought a 7,000-square-foot apartment in London’s tidy neighborhood that once belonged to British singer Duffy. He filled the apartment with works of art worth about £ 500,000, including two original Warhols. BBCand hosted a lavish 36th birthday party at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

However, Ignatova’s lavish social life came to an end on October 25, 2017, after she flew to Athens, Greece and disappeared. He is wanted by both Interpol and Europol and was the subject of the BBC’s Missing Cryptoqueen podcast. Earlier this year, German investigators warned that he may have undergone plastic surgery to hide his appearance.

While Ignatova was on the radar, her co-founder, lawyer and brother were arrested and tried in connection with the scheme. His brother, Konstantin Ignatov, even testified against him in 2019 as part of the trial. His lawyer, Mark Scott, was convicted that year of money laundering and bank fraud.

The indictment against Ignatov was sealed in New York’s Southern District Court in 2019, with one charge each, accusing him of wire fraud, money laundering, securities fraud and conspiracy to launder money. .

“I’m sure we’ll finally find him,” Mike Driscoll, the assistant director of the FBI’s New York office, told a news conference Thursday.

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