The FBI has added Dr. Ruja Ignatova, the ‘Cryptoqueen’ to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list after she allegedly defrauded investors with her $4 billion cryptocurrency pyramid scheme.
Ignatova, 42, who the Department of Justice said used her OneCoin cryptocurrency as a multi-level marketing scam to target investors worldwide between 2014 and 2018, is now wanted for $100,000.
Investigators believe Ignatova was tipped off in 2017 after a U.S. District Court in New York issued a warrant for her arrest, leading the alleged scammer to travel to Greece and disappear.
Special Agent Ronald Shimko, who is investigating the case out of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said he hopes the publicity of being on the most wanted list will help track down Ignatova.
‘There are so many victims all over the world who were financially devastated by this,’ Shimko said. ‘We want to bring her to justice.’
Dr. Ruja Ignatova, known as the ‘Cryptoqueen,’ was added to the FBI”s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on Thursday for defrauding investors
Ignatova allegedly scammed investors around the world to collect $4 billion for her OneCoin cryptocurrency, which was a pyramid scheme
Dubbed the ‘Cryptoqueen,’ Ignatova, a lawyer, co-founded OneCoin in 2014 as the ‘Bitcoin killer,’ luring investors to purchase packages her cryptocurrency.
Investigators said that a key part of her business model was to push investors into selling additional packages of OneCoin to friends and family, which was essentially a pyramid scheme to pay out those at the top.
‘Ignatova targeted individuals who may not have fully understood the ins and outs of cryptocurrencies but were moved by Ignatova’s impressive resume and the marketing strategies used by OneCoin,’ the FBI said in its statement.
The Bulgarian-born Ignatova is only the 11th woman to have been placed on the FBI’s most wanted list in its 72-year history.
She is also wanted in Germany through an Interpol Red Notice, which warns that she may have surgically changed her appearance in order to avoid capture.
Investigators said she was living in luxury before traveling to Sofia, Bulgaria, after a warrant was issued for her arrest on October 12, 2017.
She was then reported traveling from Sofia to Athens, Greece, on October 25, and has not been seen since.
Authorities believe she could be traveling with a fake German passport to the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Russia, Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe.
Investigators said she was living in luxury before traveling to Sofia, Bulgaria, after an arrest warrant was issued in 2017. Pictured: Ignatova touting her cryptocurrency
Investigators believe she may be travelling through Eastern Europe using a fake German passport and has altered her face through sur
At the height of OneCoin’s popularity, Ignatova took the stage at the UK’s Wembley Arena, where she celebrated her success and touted that her cryptocurrency would overtake Bitcoin.
Although she remains on the run, her brother, Konstantin, was arrested in 2019 and plead guilty to multiple felonies for his leadership role in OneCoin.
In 2018, authorities issued a superseding indictment against Ignatov, charging her with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud.
Mike Driscoll, the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the New York Office, and Damian Williams, the U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York, said they were confident that Ignatova would be caught.