WASHINGTON – The FBI added a doctor on Thursday. Ruja Ignatova, the self-proclaimed “Crypto Queen”, to her list Ten Most Wanted fugitives and is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to her arrest.
Ignatova, founder of the OneCoin cryptocurrency launched in 2014, allegedly swindled investors out of over $4 billion over three years before disappearing. Europol put her on the most wanted list in Europe last month.
Investigators say that the Bulgarian project did not have a blockchain to ensure the security of transactions, and the coins were essentially minted out of thin air. bitcoinon the contrary, it is protected by a global network of miners who maintain a public ledger or blockchain.
Southern District of New York press conference on Thursday morning to announce the addition of Ignatova to his list of top fugitives.
Mike Driscoll, the FBI assistant director in charge of the New York office, said he was “confident” they would eventually find her. and Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, called Ignatova “an international fugitive who allegedly masterminded an international fraud.”
Williams also noted that Ignatova now “is in the top ten, side by side with the leaders of the cartels, murderers and terrorists.”
Ignatova has been in the criminal justice system for at least half a century. In October 2017, she was indicted by a federal grand jury, and the Southern District of New York subsequently issued an arrest warrant.
A substitute indictment was issued in February 2018, charging Ignatova with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud. Each item carries a penalty of up to 20 years.
As for the whereabouts of Ignatova, The FBI said in a press release that the founder of OneCoin traveled from Bulgaria to Greece in October. 25, 2017, although she could have continued from there.
“She can travel on a German passport to the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece and/or Eastern Europe,” the FBI said.
Ignatov’s brother, Konstantin, who also held a senior position at OneCoin, was arrested in 2019 as well as subsequently pleaded guilty to several felony charges later that year..
Investigators describe the large scale scam as an international pyramid scheme.. Ignatova allegedly made false statements to attract investment. The victims then sent cash to OneCoin accounts to purchase the coin.
In 2019 then FBI Assistant Director General William Sweeney Jr. said OneCoin “didn’t offer investors any way to track their money, and it couldn’t be used to buy anything. In fact, the only ones who would benefit from its existence were its founders and accomplices.”
At the height of OneCoin’s popularity in 2016, Ignatova took to the stage at England’s Wembley Arena in a ball gown to promote a coin that she said would outshine Bitcoin. Igantova was also known for throwing lavish parties in cities around the world.
The FBI is asking anyone with information on her whereabouts to contact the bureau at tips.fbi.gov.