The FBI has added Ruja Ignatova, better known as “Cryptoqueen,” to its 10 Most Wanted Fugitive List and offered a $100,000 reward for any information leading to her arrest.
An arrest warrant was issued for Ignatova after a grand jury indictment in October 2017. A superseding indictment was issued the following year with charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud.
The slew of charges stem from her alleged involvement in an international scheme which defrauded more than $4 billion from investors through OneCoin, a cryptocurrency she founded and launched in 2014. Ignatova is accused of “making false statements and representations” in order to entice investments and instructing investors to “transmit investment funds to OneCoin accounts in order to purchase OneCoin packages.”
According to CNBC, Ignatova’s OneCoin operated without blockchain, a feature typically seen in other cryptocurrency operations. “Unlike authentic cryptocurrencies, which maintain records of their investors’ transaction history, OneCoin had no real value,” FBI assistant director-in-charge William Sweeney Jr. said. “It offered investors no method of tracing their money, and it could not be used to purchase anything. In fact, the only ones who stood to benefit from its existence were its founders and co-conspirators.”
Ignatova’s whereabouts are unknown. The FBI said she traveled from Bulgaria to Greece on Oct. 25, 2017, but it’s uncertain if she fled to another country from there. “She may travel on a German passport to the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece and/or Eastern Europe.”
Her brother Konstantin, who was involved in the OneCoin fraud scheme, pleaded guilty to multiple felonies in 2019 and awaits sentencing, per NBC News. Ignatova was added to Europol’s Most Wanted list last month.