The Bulgarian Ruja Ignatova, also known as the “crypto-queen”, has been added on the FBI’s list of ten most wanted fugitives. US investigators have accused her of defrauding people of more than four billion dollars through her “OneCoin” cryptocurrency.
She disappeared in 2017, when US authorities signed a warrant for her arrest.
Ignatova led the “OneCoin” project and in early 2014 offered customers a commission if they sold the cryptocurrency to a large number of people. But the FBI claims that “OneCoin” was worthless and was never protected by the blockchain technology used by other cryptocurrencies.
Bulgarian-based project had no blockchain securing transactions and coins were essentially minted out of thin air. Bitcoin, by contrast, is secured by a global network of miners who maintain a public ledger, or blockchain.
The FBI has put Ignatova on the list of most wanted fugitives, and the public’s help is being sought to catch her. She is the only woman on the list. Yesterday they offered a reward of $100,000 for any information on the whereabouts of the “crypto queen”, as they call her.
One of the reasons why Ignatova is so hard to find is that she disappeared with at least $500 million, which helped her hide from the law, said journalist Mr Bartlett, who has been investigating the case for years.
“We also believe she has high quality fake identity documents and has changed her appearance,” he added, as well as raising the possibility that she may no longer even be alive.
Ignatov’s brother, Konstantin, who also served in a leadership role with “OneCoin”, was arrested in 2019 and subsequently pleaded guilty to multiple felonies that same year.
Ignatova was last seen boarding a flight from Bulgaria to Greece on October 25, 2017 and has been missing since then.