WASHINGTON — The FBI on Thursday added Dr. Ruja Ignatova, the self-proclaimed ‘Cryptoqueen,’ to its listing of Ten Most Wished fugitives, and is providing a $100,000 reward for data resulting in her arrest.
Ignatova, the founding father of a cryptocurrency referred to as OneCoin that was launched in 2014, allegedly defrauded traders of greater than $4 billion over three years, earlier than disappearing. Europol added her to Europe’s most needed listing final month.
Investigators say the Bulgarian-based challenge had no blockchain securing transactions and cash have been basically minted out of skinny air. Bitcoin, in contrast, is secured by a world community of miners who preserve a public ledger, or blockchain.
The Southern District of New York held a press convention on Thursday morning to announce the addition of Ignatova to its high fugitives listing.
Mike Driscoll, the FBI’s assistant director accountable for the New York workplace, stated that he was “assured” they might discover her ultimately. and Damian Williams, the US legal professional for the Southern District of New York, referred to as Ignatova “a world fugitive who allegedly masterminded a worldwide fraud.”
Williams additionally famous that Ignatova now “sits facet by facet on the Prime Ten listing with cartel leaders, murderers, and terrorists.”
Ignatova has been within the prison justice system for not less than a half-decade. She was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2017, and the Southern District of New York subsequently issued an arrest warrant.
In February 2018, a superseding indictment was issued, charging Ignatova with one rely every of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit cash laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud. Every rely carries a sentence of as much as 20 years.
As for Ignatova’s whereabouts, the FBI famous in a press launch that the OneCoin founder traveled from Bulgaria to Greece on Oct. 25, 2017, although she might have continued on from there.
“She could journey on a German passport to the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece and/or Jap Europe,” the FBI stated.
Ignatov’s brother, Konstantin, who additionally served in a management function with OneCoin, was arrested in 2019 and subsequently pleaded responsible to a number of felonies that very same 12 months.
Investigators describe the large-scale fraud as much like a world pyramid scheme. Ignatova allegedly made false statements to solicit investments. Victims would then ship money to OneCoin accounts in an effort to purchase the coin.
In 2019, the FBI’s then Assistant Director-in-Cost William Sweeney Jr. stated OneCoin “provided traders no methodology of tracing their cash, and it couldn’t be used to buy something. In reality, the one ones who stood to profit from its existence have been its founders and co-conspirators.”
On the peak of OneCoin’s reputation in 2016, Ignatova took the stage at England’s Wembley Enviornment in a ballgown to tout a coin that she stated would eclipse bitcoin. Igantova was additionally identified for throwing lavish events in cities world wide.
The FBI asks that anybody with details about her whereabouts contact the bureau at suggestions.fbi.gov.
WATCH: Bitwise’s Matt Hougan on what crypto traders ought to watch