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'Crypto Queen' in FBI's most wanted list

Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, speaks at a press conference to announce the addition of “Cryptoqueen” Ruja Ignatova to the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives list, in New York, U.S., June 30, 2022 (Photo: Reuters)Premium
Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, speaks at a press conference to announce the addition of “Cryptoqueen” Ruja Ignatova to the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives list, in New York, U.S., June 30, 2022 (Photo: Reuters)

  • Ignatova, who holds Bulgarian and German citizenship, is wanted for her alleged participation in a large-scale fraud scheme.
  • Dubbed by the FBI as the ‘crypto queen,’ the agency has offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information that would lead to her arrest.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has added Ruja Ignatova to the agency’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for allegedly defrauding investors of more than $4 billion through her “OneCoin" cryptocurrency company.

Dubbed by the FBI as the “crypto queen," the agency has offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information that would lead to her arrest.

Ignatova, who holds Bulgarian and German citizenship, is wanted for her alleged participation in a large-scale fraud scheme.

According to the FBI, since 2014, after she founded “OneCoin" Ltd along with her partner, she defrauded victims of billions of dollars across the world by making false statements and representations to solicit investments in her company.

The federal agency claims Ignatova and her partner promoted OneCoin through a multi-level marketing strategy that urged OneCoin investors to sell additional packages to friends and family and that she capitalized on the excitement surrounding cryptocurrencies to draw in new investors.

“Throughout the scheme, OneCoin is believed to have defrauded victims out of more than $4 billion," according to the FBI.

“OneCoin claimed to have a private blockchain," said Special Agent Ronald Shimko, who is investigating the case out of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

“This is in contrast to other virtual currencies, which have a decentralized and public blockchain. In this case, investors were just asked to trust OneCoin," he added.

On October 12, 2017, Ignatova was charged in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest.

On February 6, 2018, a superseding indictment was issued against her with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud.

Ignatova was also added to the Most Wanted list of Europol last month, with people being offered $5,200 for providing information that could lead to her arrest.

She has been on the run since 2017, in a bid to evade arrest.

Ignatova’s younger brother Konstantin Ignatova was arrested in March 2019 in Los Angeles and he had pleaded guilty to the charges of money laundering and fraud.

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