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OneCoin's 'Cryptoqueen' Lands on FBI's Most Wanted List

Ignatova has been on the run since 2017 and charged with operating a massive Ponzi scheme that stole billions from investors.

2 min read
Ruja Ignatova, the "Cryptoqueen." Image: Flickr

The FBI today added Ruja Ignatova, the self-proclaimed "Cryptoqueen," to its list of Ten Most Wanted fugitives. The agency is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to Ignatova's arrest.

Ignatova, who has been on the run since 2017, is accused of operating a massive Ponzi scheme involving a cryptocurrency called OneCoin. Europol also added Ignatova to its most-wanted list in May.

According to the FBI's listing, the Department of Justice accused Ignatova and others of defrauding billions of dollars from investors worldwide through the marketing of OneCoin. Ignatova served as OneCoin's leader through October 12, 2017, when Ignatova was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest.

The promoters behind OneCoin, launched in 2014, claimed it was a mineable cryptocurrency with a max supply of 120 billion coins. The scheme lured investors with the promise of becoming the next Bitcoin. But unlike BTC, OneCoin's blockchain did not exist.

Ignatova is accused of making false statements and representations to investors, instructing victims to send wire transfers to OneCoin to purchase OneCoin education packages. Authorities allege OneCoin defrauded victims out of more than $4 billion.

"They promised big returns and minimal risk, but, as alleged, this business was a pyramid scheme based on smoke and mirrors more than zeroes and ones. Investors were victimized while the defendants got rich," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a March 2019 charge against the leaders of OneCoin.

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