The hunt for Cryptoqueen: FBI declares a whopping $100,000 reward

FBI is leaving no stone unturned in a bid to nap the missing cryptoqueen accused of the $4 billion fake cryptocurrency scam. Bulgarian Ruja Ignatova is missing since 2017 and authorities have failed to nab her to date.

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It’s time for bounty hunters to pull their socks up. The FBI has placed the “Cryptoqueen”, a woman accused of defrauding investors of a whopping $4 billion by selling fake cryptocurrency, on the list of 10 most-wanted fugitives.

Ruja Ignatova’s story came to the limelight after the BBC’s The Missing Cryptoqueen podcast in 2019. It detailed her role in OneCoin, an infamous cryptocurrency scam that caught the attention of millions of crypto enthusiasts. For information leading to Bulgarian-born Ignatova’s arrest, the FBI will offer a $100,000 reward. She was last seen in 2017, and since then authorities have failed to track her down despite multiple efforts and raids.

The FBI has stated that Ignatova is a German citizen and had been accompanied by armed guards. They also suspect that she may have gone under the knife in a bid to alter her appearance.

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In 2019, the 42-year-old was charged with eight offenses, including securities fraud and wire fraud, for operating OneCoin Ltd in Bulgaria as a pyramid scheme. Prosecutors claim that the company lured members with commissions to encourage others to invest in a cryptocurrency that was worthless. More than $4 billion of investors’ money went down the drain.

Damian Williams, Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor, explained that it was perfect timing to launch such a Ponzi scheme. The excitement toward cryptocurrency was all-time high and she didn’t miss the chance to capitalize upon the frenzied speculation in the early days of cryptocurrency.

Williams called OneCoin “one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history“.

Ignatova went off the radar in 2017 after learning that her American boyfriend started co-operating in an FBI investigation related to OneCoin. It’s widely believed that she boarded a flight from Bulgaria to Greece and hasn’t been seen since then.

Michael Driscoll is the FBI’s New York assistant director-in­-charge. He declined to comment on any leads regarding Ignatova’s whereabouts. When the bureau believes that the cooperation from the public in tracking a person down is much needed, it adds fugitives to its most-wanted list.

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Driscoll believes that Ignatova left the country with a lot of money, which can easily help to find safe heaven for anyone.

Besides Ignatova, an ex-corporate lawyer, Mark Scott, was also charged. He was accused of laundering around $400 million for OneCoin. After a three-week trial in Manhattan federal court, Scott was found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering as well as conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

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