The Bulgarian convicted fraudster Ruja Ignatova is the founder of the Ponzi scheme known as OneCoin. She has been on the run since 2017 and in 2019, she was charged in absence by the United States authorities for money laundering, wire fraud, and securities fraud.
Ruja Ignatova, also known as the “Cryptoqueen”, defrauded investors from four billion dollars by selling a fake cryptocurrency called OneCoin. She was added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s list of the ten most wanted fugitives. Her life of crime began in 2012 when she was convicted of fraud and she is currently on the run from the authorities.
Who Is Ruja Ignatova?
- Ruja Ignatova was born in Bulgaria and moved to Germany with her family. Her first foray into criminal life was in 2012. She was convicted of fraud in connection with her and her father’s acquisition of a company that was declared bankrupt in dubious circumstances shortly afterwards.
- She was given a suspended sentence of 14 months of imprisonment.
- In 2013, she was involved in a multi-level marketing scheme/pyramid scheme called BigCoin.
- A year after that, she founded a Ponzi scheme called OneCoin. The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan Damian Williams described it as “one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history”.
- She had made false statements while soliciting investments and promoted OneCoin using a multi-level marketing strategy. In an email with a co-founder, Ignatova reportedly spoke of an exit strategy in which she would “Take the money and run and blame someone else for this”.
- The FBI alleged that Ignatova capitalised on the cryptocurrency frenzy and persuaded investors to give her billions of dollars.
- According to Williams, Ignatova went on the run in 2017 after she bugged an apartment belonging to her boyfriend and learning that he was cooperating with the FBI. She disappeared after a federal warrant was issued for her arrest.
- She boarded a flight from Bulgaria to Greece and has been on the run since then. The FBI is offering a reward of 100,000 dollars for information leading to her capture.
- In May 2022, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) added Ignatova to its most-wanted list and a month later, the FBI added her to the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List.
- Ignatova is the only woman on the FBI’s list of ten most wanted fugitives.
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