crypto strategy

‘Cryptoqueen’ still on the run from FBI after five years

In 2017, Ruja Ignatova – the self-proclaimed “Cryptoqueen” – boarded a plane in Bulgaria bound for Athens. The fugitive, wanted by the FBI, has not been seen since.

Ignatova is on the bureau’s “ten most wanted fugitives” list for “alleged leadership of a massive fraud scheme that affected millions of investors worldwide.” Co-founder of Bulgarian cryptocurrency firm OneCoin Ltd, she allegedly defrauded investors of over $4 billion.

It comes after its co-founder, Karl Sebastian Greenwood, to plead guilty to fraud and money laundering charges in Manhattan federal court last month.

In addition to Greenwood, Ignatova enlisted her younger brother Konstantin Ignatov to help run the “international pyramid scheme that involved the marketing of fraudulent cryptocurrency.”

The network began to tighten when Konstantin was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport following an investigation by the Manhattan US Attorney in 2019.

Konstantin pleaded guilty to a series of charges including money laundering and fraud in 2019, according to the BBC.

‘Cryptoqueen’ still on the run

However, her older sister remains at large, with a federal warrant for Ignatova’s arrest issued on October 12, 2017. It was later replaced by an indictment in February 2018 with conspiracy charges in to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud.

Court and public documents allege that Ignatova and her brother held various positions at the helm of the company founded in 2014.

Upon his arrest, Konstantin Ignatov was described as the “top leader” of the company, having succeeded his sister who held the position until her disappearance in October 2017.

During the authorities’ investigations into OneCoin, records showed that between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2016, OneCoin generated €3.353 billion in revenue and made “profits” of €2.232 billion. euros.

How did she do it?

A video released on the FBI’s website provides insight into how Ignatova conned investors out of their pockets.

At a OneCoin event in London, speaking “a year and a half after launching [their] cryptocurrency” Ignatova said: “I firmly believe [OneCoin] will be the number one cryptocurrency in the world.

Accepting applause from the crowd, she continued, “Over the past two years, I’ve been called a lot of things. The best thing the press called me was: “OneCoin, which is supposed to be the killer of BitCoin”. I must say that I like it. You all know that since we mined our first coin, our growth has exploded. She then claims that her company had two million active users, which “no other cryptocurrency has.”

Speaking after Konstantin Ignatov’s arrest, then Deputy FBI Director William Sweeney Jr. said, “As we claim, OneCoin was a cryptocurrency that only existed in the mind. of its creators and their co-conspirators. Unlike genuine cryptocurrencies, which keep records of their investors’ transaction history, OneCoin had no real value.

“It offered investors no way to trace their money, and it could not be used to buy anything. In fact, the only ones to benefit from its existence were its founders and co-conspirators. dealing with virtual currency or cold hard cash, we urge the public to exercise due diligence in any investment.

According to a press release from United States Attorney’s OfficeIgnatova had listed an exit strategy from OneCoin as “take the money and run and blame someone else for it”.

In emails also sent in 2014, Greenwood apparently calls OneCoin investors “idiots,” with Ignatov replying, “As you told me, the network wouldn’t work with smart people.

Where is she now?

And so began an international game of cat and mouse with IRS Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur pledging to “bring cryptocurrency scammers to justice.”

The FBI is offering $100,000 for any information leading to the fugitive’s arrest.

His profile on the FBI website adds that she “is supposed to be traveling with armed guards and/or associates” and may have had plastic surgery to alter her appearance.

Able to speak German, English and Bulgarian, it is believed that Ignatova may have used a German passport to travel to the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece and/or Eastern Europe .

When approached by CNNthe office declined to provide additional details beyond the US Department of Justice court documents.

The FBI poster adds that Ignatova has various aliases, including Dr. Ruja Ignatova, Ruja Plamenova Ignatova, Ruja P. Ignatova, and “CryptoQueen.”

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