The hunt for the infamous “CryptoQueen,” Ruja Ignatova, took a dark turn as an investigation by Bulgarian news outlet Bird reported that she was killed in 2018, citing documents reportedly found in the possession of a murdered Bulgarian police official.

Ignatova was head of the multimillion-dollar OneCoin scam and disappeared after allegedly fleecing investors out of as much as $5 billion in 2017. She was added to international fugitive lists, including the FBI’s ten most wanted and Europe’s most wanted list. If the Bird report is true, she achieved this notoriety last summer—up to two years after her supposed death.


According to a story published on February 17, Bird reporters Dimitar Stoyanov and Atanas Tchobanov say police documents show that Ignatova was killed on the orders of a drug lord aboard his yacht. Her killer, according to an unnamed source in the police report, was an associate of Ignatova but did not say if they were involved in the OneCoin scam.

According to Bird, Ignatova’s body was dismembered and dumped in the Ionian Sea, a body of water south of the Adriatic Sea between Italy and Greece.

The report surfaces the same week Ignatova's former boyfriend, Gilbert Armenta, was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the OneCoin scam.

It should be noted that the police documents cited in the report say that the source claiming that Ignatova was killed was intoxicated at the time. Decrypt has been unable to reach Bird for further comment.

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


Ignatova’s complete disappearance led investigators to believe she may have changed her appearance, but this report of Ignatova’s death could explain why the $100,000 reward by the FBI remains unclaimed.

In December, Ignatova associate and OneCoin co-founder Karl Sebastian Greenwood pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering related to the scam.

In January, a London property filing with the British government hinted that Igantova had resurfaced. The filing listed Ignatova as a beneficial owner of Abbots House Penthouse Limited, a Guernsey-based company that had purchased a multimillion-dollar penthouse in the London suburb of Kensington.

But while the UK filing lists her name, the BBC said the listing came from prosecutors in Germany rather than Ignatova.

If Ignatova is still alive, she faces several charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Daily Debrief Newsletter

Start every day with the top news stories right now, plus original features, a podcast, videos and more.