The elusive “Crypto Queen,” Ruja Ignatova, appears to be nearing the end of her time on the run. This former cryptocurrency luminary, a German-born Bulgarian national, vanished in October 2017, leaving behind a trail of shattered dreams and a $4 billion Ponzi Scheme linked to her OneCoin crypto token. Facing multiple charges of fraud, Ignatova has eluded the FBI for the past five years.
MOST WANTED CRYPTOQUEEN BY AMERICAN FBI
In an unexpected development, the U.K.’s Companies House, similar to the U.S.’s Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, potentially disclosed her location inadvertently through a recent rule change. This rule now mandates that properties purchased by companies must list their beneficiaries. Even though there’s a belief that Ignatova originally obtained the property via a shell company. And a recent court submission has revealed her as the “beneficial owner” of an £11 million [$13.6 million] penthouse apartment available for sale in Kensington, England. The listing, first noticed by Jamie Bartlett, the host of the “The Missing Cryptoqueen” podcast, has since been removed.
The enigmatic journey of Ruja Ignatova, the sole woman on the FBI’s most-wanted list, is a tale of high ambitions and grand deception. Before her disappearance, Ignatova was perceived as a rising star in the cryptocurrency industry. And having transformed from humble beginnings in Germany to a prominent consultant and crypto entrepreneur.
Teaming up with her business partner, Sebastian Greenwood. And they enticed investors with promises that their OneCoin crypto token would surpass the value of Bitcoin. However, investigations uncovered a massive international fraud scheme that defrauded investors of $4 billion. And branded by U.S. prosecutors as entirely worthless.
The scam began to unravel in 2016 when investors struggled to sell their OneCoins, attracting media and regulatory scrutiny. October 2017 witnessed the charging of Ignatova with a multitude of offences. And subsequently resulting in a federal warrant for her arrest. Two weeks later, she vanished on a flight from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Athens, Greece, and has remained hidden since.
The FBI offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to her capture. And has described Ignatova as potentially altering her appearance and travelling with armed guards or associates.
The OneCoin scheme was a product of Ignatova and Greenwood’s persuasive tactics that promised investors substantial returns. During the cryptocurrency frenzy of the time, they managed to secure $4 billion in investments between 2014 and 2016. Nevertheless, the company manipulated OneCoin’s actual value and never genuinely mined it like other cryptocurrencies, despite their assurances to investors.
With the unravelling of the scheme and Ignatova’s disappearance, her co-conspirators faced the consequences. Sebastian Greenwood was arrested in 2018 and has pleaded guilty to multiple charges. He is awaiting sentencing in April. In 2019, Konstantin Ignatov, brother of Ignatova, faced apprehension and is on track for a February sentencing, having pled guilty to multiple charges.
Ruja Ignatova’s net worth remains a topic of speculation, with reports suggesting she had $500 million in Dubai bank accounts as of 2021. Although there is documentation showing her receipt of 230,000 Bitcoins from a member of the Emirati royal family in 2015, her cryptocurrency holdings remain unknown. As the search for the “Crypto Queen” intensifies. The world of cryptocurrency still shrouds the destiny of the most sought-after woman.