Ruja Ignatova, also known as the ‘disappearing Crypto Queen’ has been placed on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 10 most wanted list.
This Bulgarian woman is being wanted on charges of fraudulent cryptocurrency or cryptocurrency known as OneCoin.
Federal investigators have accused Ignatova of using the OneCoin scheme to defraud her victims of more than $4 billion.
He has been missing since 2017, when US authorities signed an arrest warrant and investigators began investigating him.
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Ignatova is wanted for her role in running OneCoin, a cryptocurrency that she started introducing in early 2014. She offers people who buy this currency a commission for a commission if they can persuade others to buy it too.
But FBI agents say OneCoin is worthless and not protected by blockchain technology like other cryptocurrencies. Blockchain refers to a special database that records every transaction using a cryptocurrency.
According to allegations made by federal prosecutors, OneCoin is essentially a Ponzi scheme disguised as a cryptocurrency.
“He timed his scheme perfectly, taking advantage of the speculation frenzy in the early days of cryptocurrencies,” said Manhattan federal prosecutor Damian Williams.
The FBI added Ignatova to its list of 10 most wanted people so the general public can follow suit.
The bureau of inquiry is offering a bounty of IDR 1.5 billion for any information that leads to Ignatova’s arrest. The woman was indicted in 2019, on six counts including fraud through information and communication technology and securities fraud.
Ignatova is the only woman on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.
Jamie Bartlett, who works on the BBC’s investigative podcast on the Ignatova case and the financial impact OneCoin has on its victims, said Thursday’s FBI announcement raised the possibility of the fugitive’s arrest.
“This is probably the biggest step forward in the case since Ruja disappeared in October 2017,” he said.
Barlett, who has also investigated the case for years, said one reason it was difficult to track down Ruja Ignatova was because she disappeared with $500 million in cash that could help her hide from tracking.
“We also believe he had a high-quality fake identity document, and changed his appearance,” he said, adding it was possible he was dead.
Ignatova was last seen on a flight from Bulgaria to Greece in 2017, and has not been seen since.
Hear the Story of the Disappearing Crypto Queen via the BBC Sounds podcast – the search for Ruja Ignatova continues and a new episode is coming soon this year.