One of the Onecoin co-founders, Ruja Ignatova, otherwise known as the ‘Cryptoqueen,’ has been added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on Thursday. In addition to adding the Cryptoqueen to the most wanted list, the FBI is offering a reward of up to $100K for tips that lead to the 42-year-old woman’s arrest.
Onecoin’s Cryptoqueen Is Now on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List
Ruja Ignatova is well known for her involvement with the Onecoin Ponzi scheme, and it is estimated that the scam allegedly defrauded people out of $4 billion. The pyramid scheme promoted Onecoin as a blockchain project with a native cryptocurrency but there was no blockchain and no real crypto asset behind the scam.
However, Onecoin’s management, recruits, and Ignatova promoted the project as if it was a “bitcoin killer.” From late 2014 to March 2016, Ignatova pitched Onecoin sales and recruited members on a regular basis. During the end of the scheme’s functional state, the company issued a notice that said operations would pause for two weeks. By January 2017, the Onecoin exchange xcoinx shut down indefinitely and Ignatova disappeared.
Last November, findings that stemmed from a trial against Martin Breidenbach, Ignatova’s German attorney, had shown that the Cryptoqueen allegedly lived a lavish lifestyle and purchased an $18.2 million London penthouse before she fled. In mid-May 2022, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, Europol, added Ignatova to Europe’s Most Wanted Fugitives list.
FBI Special Agent: ‘We Want to Bring Her to Justice’
The following month, on June 30, 2022, the FBI added the Cryptoqueen to the U.S.-based Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. The list introduced in March 1950 was created to promote the capture of America’s criminal masterminds. Over the last 72 years, Ignatova joins the list as the 11th woman to be selected by the FBI.
“Onecoin claimed to have a private blockchain,” FBI special agent Ronald Shimko explained in a statement on Thursday. “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.” Shimko added that he hopes Ignatova’s name on the list will bring more attention to the case in order to bolster the Cryptoqueen’s arrest. In the FBI press statement, Shimko concluded:
There are so many victims all over the world who were financially devastated by this. We want to bring her to justice.
Investigators say before the Cryptoqueen fled, she had black hair and brown eyes, but the FBI believes “she could have altered her physical appearance.” The domestic intelligence and security service says Ignatova speaks fluent Bulgarian, German, and English.
“She may be traveling on a fraudulent passport and has known connections to Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates,” the FBI’s press release further details. The FBI is asking tipsters to reach out to any local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy to provide information about the Cryptoqueen’s whereabouts.
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