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The FBI has listed Ruja Ignatova, commonly known as the “missing Cryptoqueen,” as one of its top ten most sought individuals. The Bulgarian woman, who is thought to be in her 40s, is sought after for her suspected involvement in the OneCoin cryptocurrency fraud scheme.
Federal authorities accuse the fugitive of utilizing the scam to cheat people out of more than $4 billion (£3.2 billion). Since 2017 when US authorities issued an arrest warrant and detectives started hunting for her, she has been missing.
OneCoin, a self-described cryptocurrency, started giving customers compensation in 2014 if they spread the word about the money to other people. However, according to FBI investigators, OneCoin had no value and was never protected by the blockchain technology that underlies other cryptocurrencies. Instead, federal prosecutors claim that it was effectively a Ponzi scheme disguising itself as a cryptocurrency.
When it thinks the public might be able to help in their capture, the FBI adds fugitives to its most-wanted list.
The arrest of Cryptoqueen, who was charged with eight charges in 2019, including wire fraud and securities fraud, could earn the person providing the information a $100,000 reward.
She is the only female on the FBI’s top ten most wanted list.
The FBI’s announcement on Thursday boosted the odds of her being apprehended, according to Jamie Bartlett, whose BBC podcast investigation brought Ms. Ignatova’s story and the financial impact OneCoin had on her alleged victims to the attention of the world.
Since Dr. Ruja vanished in October 2017, he added that this is most likely the case’s largest advancement.
One of the reasons it had been so challenging to find, according to Mr. Bartlett, who has been looking into the issue for years, was Ruja Ignatova’s disappearance with at least $500 million (£411 million) allowed her to evade capture.
He continued, raising the idea that she might not even be alive, saying, “We also believe she has high-quality phony identification documents and has changed her appearance.”
Cryptoqueen has been missing since she was last spotted boarding an aircraft in 2017 from Bulgaria to Greece.
Jen McAdam, a OneCoin victim, claimed to have wasted a quarter of a million euros with her friends and family in a 2019 interview with the BBC.
According to Ms. McAdam, it all began with a friend’s message about a fantastic investment opportunity. Then, the Glaswegian logged onto a OneCoin webinar while seated at her PC by clicking a link. She paid close attention as individuals talked passionately over the course of the following hour or so about this intriguing new coin and how it would change their lives.
It took Ms. McAdam months to realize it was a hoax.