Ruja Ignatova, Missing Cryptoqueen: Currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted List
Imagine investing all your hard-earned money in cryptocurrency only to find that you are a victim of the biggest Ponzi scam in history! This is what happened to investors who trusted Ruja Ignatova, the only woman fugitive currently on the FBI’s most wanted list. She is on the list for her alleged role in running a cryptocurrency scam to the tune of $4 billion!
2014: Ruja Ignatova, the mastermind behind the biggest cryptocurrency scandal in history.
In 2014, Ruja Ignatova, a Bulgarian national, became the founder of the multibillion-dollar cryptocurrency scheme known as “OneCoin.” She lured investors to contribute funds to buy this fake digital currency and promised unrealistic returns on their investments.
OneCoin held many promotional events around the world and offered a commission to buyers who sold the currency to other people. Calling herself the “Cryptoqueen,” Ms. Ignatova claimed that she invented OneCoin as a rival to Bitcoin. Surprisingly, between 2014 and 2017, investments to the tune of $4 billion poured into the company from dozens of countries around the world.
In reality, OneCoin was never safeguarded by the blockchain technology that is used by other cryptocurrencies. It was not backed by any government or central bank. It was not traded on any public exchanges and could only be bought through the OneCoin website. Investors never realized that they were putting their hard-earned money into a fraudulent venture, and they had no way to get it back. No wonder these victims ultimately lost all the money!
Federal prosecutors have essentially described OneCoin as a Ponzi scheme that was disguised as a cryptocurrency. They alleged that Ruja Ignatova had capitalized on the frenzy of cryptocurrency and timed her scheme perfectly to cheat all her investors.
2017: Ruja Ignatova fled with all the money.
In 2017, when investigators began closing in on Ruja Ignatova, and the US officials signed an arrest warrant, the self-declared Cryptoqueen vanished from the scene with all the money. She was last seen boarding a flight from Bulgaria to Greece in 2017 and has been missing since then. No wonder the FBI has added this fraudster to its list of most wanted cybercriminals.
In 2019, FBI agents arrested Ruja’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, at Los Angeles International Airport and charged him with fraud related to the OneCoin scam.
2023: How Ruja was back in the limelight
In early 2023, Ms. Ignatova reportedly filed a claim on one of her properties, a penthouse apartment in the London suburbs. She had purchased this property under a company name, but the new rule of Companies House required the beneficiary’s full name to be mentioned. As a result, lawyers representing Ms. Ignatova made a formal claim on the property, listing her as the apartment’s “beneficial owner.”
Jamie Bartlett, the reporter who has been investigating this case since Ms. Ignatova’s disappearance, flagged a dubious link between the penthouse and the missing trickster. When this link was confirmed, Mr. Bartlett said that it could be a great breakthrough to find the world’s most-wanted fugitive. He said that they needed to lay their hands on documents that contained vital clues about Ms. Ignatova’s recent whereabouts. If nothing else, authorities can now freeze this asset and start giving back money to the OneCoin scam’s victims! The FBI has offered a reward of $100,000 to any individual who provides information that ultimately leads to the arrest of Ruja Ignatova.
OneCoin is an example of a pyramid scheme scam with a digital twist. It represents the dark side of technological advancements. For people who understand technology, it creates amazing opportunities. For people who don’t, it gives a chance for others to exploit them easily. Ms. Ignatova was intelligent enough to spot the desperation of the public to earn quick money and cleverly exploit it.
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