She is known as the “Cryptoqueen” because she conned billions of dollars using a cryptocurrency that had no actual value before it vanished.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has now placed her on its list of the 10 most-wanted criminals.
Ruja Ignatova, on the run since 2017, is suspected of orchestrating a vast Ponzi scam employing OneCoin, a cryptocurrency.
The FBI claims that Cryptoqueen misled investors of over $4 billion through OneCoin, a cryptocurrency startup she co-founded in 2014.
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FBI Dangles $100,000 For The Cryptoqueen’s Arrest
On top of placing Cryptoqueen, age 42, on its most-wanted list, the FBI is offering a $100,000 bounty for information leading to her capture.
The pyramid scheme touted Onecoin, which Ignatova and her business partner claimed would be a “Bitcoin Killer,” as a blockchain project with a native cryptocurrency, despite the fact that there was no blockchain and no actual crypto asset pegged to it.
According to the FBI, Ignatova leveraged the fervor surrounding cryptocurrencies to entice unsuspecting people who did not completely comprehend how cryptocurrencies functioned.
Image: Finance Magnates
Federal prosecutors assert that OneCoin was a Ponzi scam masquerading as a digital asset.
Damian Williams, Manhattan’s senior federal prosecutor, was quoted by BBC as saying Cryptoqueen precisely timed her operation to capitalize on the “frenzied speculation of the early days of cryptocurrencies.”
The Cryptoqueen And Her Bogus Digital Currency
Ignatova, a Bulgarian attorney, is accused of making fraudulent statements and representations to investors, directing them to pay wire transfers to OneCoin in order to acquire the token’s education programs.
In March 2019, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman charged the leaders of OneCoin with the following:
“They promised big returns and minimal risk but, as alleged, this business was a pyramid scheme … Investors were victimized while the defendants got rich.”
“She’s got plenty of money and she hit the road pretty quick,” ABC News quoted FBI Assistant Director Michael Driscoll as saying during a news briefing Thursday.
BTC total market cap at $369 billion on the daily chart | Source: TradingView.com
Luxurious Lifestyle And Armed Bodyguards
In November of last year, a trial against Ignatova’s German attorney, Martin Breidenbach, revealed that the Cryptoqueen allegedly maintained a luxurious life and bought a $18 million London penthouse before disappearing.
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, Europol, placed her to Europe’s Most Wanted list in mid-May of this year.
The Cryptoqueen was characterized as having “brown eyes and dark brown to black hair,” according to the FBI, however she may have altered her appearance. Additionally, the FBI stated she may be traveling with armed protection.
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Featured image from The Telegraph, chart from TradingView.com