Gabe Kaminsky on July 1, 2022
A German woman who allegedly defrauded investors out of over $4 billion through her scam cryptocurrency company has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, the federal law enforcement agency announced Thursday.
Ruja Ignatova, also known as “Cryptoqueen,” was indicted in 2018 with wire fraud, securities fraud and six other counts for operating a Bulgaria-based cryptocurrency company called OneCoin Ltd that was allegedly a pyramid scheme. The FBI is offering an $100,000 reward for information leading to Ignatova’s arrest, the agency said.
Ignatova and others allegedly defrauded investors across the world until October 2017, when she flew from Bulgaria to Greece upon learning her American boyfriend was cooperating with the FBI’s OneCoin investigation, said Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on Thursday.
“She timed her scheme perfectly, capitalizing on the frenzied speculation of the early days of cryptocurrency,” said the top Manhattan prosecutor, adding that OneCoin was “one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history.”
Ruja Ignatova is the newest addition to the #FBI‘s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List. She’s #wanted for allegedly leading a fraud scheme that affected millions of investors worldwide. We’re offering a reward of up to $100,000 for info leading to her arrest. https://t.co/5mk0NccE7x pic.twitter.com/xKoj0RN6BZ
— FBI (@FBI) June 30, 2022
Ignatova promoted OneCoin with her partner and framed it as the “Bitcoin killer,” according to the FBI. Whereas other cryptocurrency values fluctuate based on market demand, OneCoin’s price was determined by its employees, according to the FBI.
“OneCoin claimed to have a private blockchain,” Ronald Shimko, an FBI special agent probing the case in New York, said in a statement. “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.”
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York declined to comment.
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