July 17, 2024

Snapshot

  • The bounty on Ruja Ignatova’s head has been raised to $5 million by the U.S. State Department.
  • Dubbed as the “CryptoQueen”, Ignatova is a key figure wanted for a $4 billion OneCoin scam.
  • After being indicted in America in 2017, she vanished and was last spotted in Athens, Greece.
  • OneCoin, established in 2014, was advertised as a “Bitcoin killer”, but turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.
  • Several associates of Ignatova have been convicted and punished for their involvement in the fraudulent scheme.

On June 26, 2024, the U.S. State Department announced a significant increase in the reward for information regarding Ruja Ignatova to $5 million. This is a massive jump from the prior $250,000 FBI reward, indicating the severity of this situation. It is a bid to apprehend the founder of the OneCoin cryptocurrency scheme, famously known as the “CryptoQueen”.

Ignatova, originally from Germany and of Bulgarian lineage, is being pursued for her participation in a major fraud scheme. She co-founded the OneCoin project in 2014, which allegedly swindled investors for over $4 billion.

OneCoin was marketed as a legitimate cryptocurrency and dubbed as the “Bitcoin killer”. Glamorous parties and global events in places like Dubai, Singapore, and the UK were backing its promotion. However, as per court statements and testimonies from investors, OneCoin was a highly complex Ponzi scheme with no existence on an actual blockchain or tangible mining operations.

The fraud was exposed in 2017 when Ignatova was indicted by a New York grand jury on multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and additional charges of securities fraud were added in 2018.

Ignatova was last seen in Athens, Greece, just two weeks post her first indictment, and she speared off the radar after that. She was added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List” in 2022. There are assumptions that she may have undergone plastic surgery and may be traveling on a German passport within countries like the UAE, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece, or Eastern Europe.

While Ignatova remains free, her accomplices have been convicted. Co-founder of OneCoin, Karl Sebastian Greenwood, pled guilty in a federal court in Manhattan in 2022, and was handed a 20-year sentence. Lawyers involved in the scam have also been dealt prison sentences.

The U.S. Department of State’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program offers the $5 million Reward. This initiative even guarantees the protection of informants’ identities to keep individuals safe.

The OneCoin case has caught the public eye largely due to the 2019 podcast series “The Missing Cryptoqueen“. This attention possibly aids the ongoing search for Ignatova.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Ruja Ignatova?

Ruja Ignatova, also known as the “CryptoQueen”, is a German national of Bulgarian origin who co-founded the OneCoin cryptocurrency scheme in 2014. She is currently being pursued for her participation in this scam which swindled investors for over $4 billion. She disappeared in 2017.

What is OneCoin?

OneCoin, established in 2014, was a cryptocurrency marketed as a legitimate investment and a “Bitcoin killer”. However, it was exposed as a massive Ponzi scheme with nothing to back its claims of being a real cryptocurrency. It reportedly contributed to defrauding investors of over $4 billion.

What is the current status of the OneCoin case?

The OneCoin case remains an ongoing investigation. While Ignatova, the central figure in the fraud, remains at large, several of her accomplices have been convicted. The U.S. State Department has upped the reward for information on her whereabouts to $5 million. Meanwhile, speculation continues around her current whereabouts and living status.