FBI offers $100,000 reward for info about “Cryptoqueen” Ruja Ignatova
The FBI today announced the addition of Ruja Ignatova to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Ignatova is being sought for her alleged leadership of a massive fraud scheme that affected millions of investors worldwide. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to her arrest.
In approximately 2014, Ignatova and her partner founded OneCoin, a Bulgarian-based company that was marketed as a new virtual currency that would be the “Bitcoin killer.” Ignatova allegedly made false statements and representations about OneCoin to draw people to invest in OneCoin packages. According to investigators, Ignatova and her partner also promoted OneCoin through a multi-level marketing strategy that urged OneCoin investors to sell additional packages to friends and family.
Ignatova capitalized on the excitement surrounding cryptocurrencies to draw in new investors. While the company is said to have used many of the terms associated with virtual currencies, investigators believe that OneCoins were not mined in the way traditional to cryptocurrencies. In addition, the value of OneCoin was determined by the company rather than market demand.
Throughout the scheme, OneCoin is believed to have defrauded victims all over the world out of billions. Ignatova targeted individuals who may not have fully understood the ins and outs of cryptocurrencies but were moved by Ignatova’s impressive resume and the marketing strategies used by OneCoin.
On October 12, 2017, Ignatova was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest. Investigators believe Ignatova may have been tipped off that she was under investigation by U.S. and international authorities. She traveled from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Athens, Greece, on October 25, 2017, and has not been seen since.
On February 6, 2018, a superseding indictment was issued charging Ignatova 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.