Ruja Ignatova (a.k.a. “Cryptoqueen”) has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive list for allegedly defrauding investors of billions of dollars.
The FBI announced on June 30 that they are offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to her arrest.
Ignatova, 42, is only the 11th woman to have been selected to be on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in its 72-year history. She is accused of engaging in a large-scale cryptocurrency fraud scheme beginning around 2014.
According to a press release from the FBI, Ignatova and accomplices allegedly defrauded billions of dollars from investors all over the world.
“Ignatova was the founder of OneCoin Ltd., a Bulgaria-based company that marketed a purported cryptocurrency,” the press release stated. “In order to execute the scheme, Ignatova allegedly made false statements and representations to individuals in order to solicit investments in OneCoin.”
At the time, OneCoin was being marketed as a new virtual currency that would be the “Bitcoin killer.”
The so-called “Cryptoqueen” allegedly instructed victims to send their investment funds to OneCoin accounts “in order to purchase OneCoin packages, causing victims to send wire transfers representing these investments.”
OneCoin is believed by the FBI to have defrauded victims out of more than $4 billion, with Ignatova leading the company until October 2017.
“OneCoin claimed to have a private blockchain,” said Special Agent Ronald Shimko, who is investigating the case out of the FBI’s New York Field Office, in a statement. “This is in contrast to other virtual currencies, which have a decentralized and public blockchain. In this case, investors were just asked to trust OneCoin.”
The FBI said in their statement that Ignatova traveled from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Athens, Greece on October 25, 2017, and may have traveled elsewhere after that. She may be travelling with a German passport to the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece and/or Eastern Europe.
“Anyone with information on Ignatova’s whereabouts are asked to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report online at tips.fbi.gov,” the statement said. “They could receive a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to her arrest. The FBI also believes there may be more victims who have yet to be identified, and they are also encouraged to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.”
Ignatova has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York and a warrant was issued for her arrest in October 2017.
In February 2018, a superseding indictment charged 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.