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The FBI's Newest Podcast Subject? The Crypto Queen on the Run

The founder of the fake OneCoin hasn't been seen since 2017, and made the FBI's Most Wanted List with a $100,000 reward.

2 min read
Image: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Everyone has a podcast these days, but the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was an early adopter of the medium. Its popular monthly “Inside the FBI” podcast was launched in 2008 and is today ranked No. 11 among U.S. Government podcasts on Apple, according to podcast analytics site Chartable.

This month’s edition is dedicated to "Crypto Queen" Ruja Ignatova, who’s been on the lam since fleecing investors in the OneCoin scam in 2017. She made the FBI’s notorious Ten Most Wanted list two months ago, yet despite a $100,000 reward she remains at large.

The podcast recapped the case, but didn't provide any new information.

OneCoin, which launched in 2014, claimed to be a mineable cryptocurrency with a maximum supply of 120 billion coins. The scheme lured investors with the promise of being a "Bitcoin killer." But unlike BTC, OneCoin's blockchain did not exist.

"OneCoin is easy to use. OneCoin is for everyone. Make payments everywhere, everyone, globally. And this is who we are. Global citizens of a small world, wanting to make a change," Ignatova said in a 2016 speech, a year before going on the run after allegedly defrauding investors of billions.

"She's currently 42 years old and has brown eyes and dark brown to black hair," said Monica Grover, host of the "Inside the FBI" podcast, which might narrow it down somewhat. However, investigators believe she could have changed her physical appearance.

Ignatova “wasn’t that visible in 2018/2019, and plastic surgeons are very discreet with rich clients,” Jamie Bartlett, investigative journalist and host of the 2019 BBC podcast “The Missing Cryptoqueen,” told Decrypt. “[The authorities] stay predictably quite tight-lipped about ongoing and live investigations."

Indeed, Grover said in the FBI podcast that Ignatova may have not only changed her physical appearance but is able to speak multiple languages, including English, German, and Bulgarian—making finding her all the more difficult.

Bartlett, however, believes the Feds have been running down some plausible leads: "I do think we [hosts of "The Missing Cryptoqueen"] have been getting closer," he said. That would, of course, provide an excellent finale to Bartlett's podcast. Indeed, he said more episodes are in development and coming soon.

As for the authorities? Maybe the bureau should offer that $100,000 reward in Bitcoin instead.

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