The Crypto Queen and her path of destruction

by Polly in Did you know?

June 21, 2024

6 minutes to read

When it comes to cryptocurrencies, it always pays off to go with the known ones or do your research to avoid scams. If not, you may end up like the millions of victims who invested in and lost funds with the infamous OneCoin scheme.

While millions of investors are left with nothing, the founders profited, and the crypto queen, Ruja Ignatova, remains large.

The tale of OneCoin

OneCoin is a Bulgarian company founded in 2014. The company used a multilevel marketing scheme to attract investors but did not offer products or membership. Instead, it had a cryptocurrency it claimed would be the next Bitcoin.

While many within and outside the cryptocurrency community saw through the scam, others did not. The OneCoin ‘crypto’ was all about the imagery, using the right phrases and advertising to grab the interest of those looking to invest.

The operators behind OneCoin were the CEO, Dr Ruja Ignatova and co-founder, Karl Sebastian Greenwood. Ruja Igantova, also known as the Crypto Queen, managed to capture the hearts and attention of many as she promised that OneCoin would surpass Bitcoin and offer huge returns to all investors. The one thing that many should have noticed was that OneCoin had no genuine BlockChain.

According to reports, Bjorn Bjercke, a well-known figure within Bitcoin’s development space, was approached with the offer to become OneCoin’s chief technical officer. They wanted him to develop an actual blockchain, which he quickly turned down.

Red flags

Since March 2016, the ‘cryptocurrency’ exchange has been closed, and with the red flags piling up, investors started getting nervous. However, things continued to develop for many months after. Only in October 2017, when Ignatova pulled the disappearance act, the OneCoin pyramid scheme started crumbling.

When US and German investigators started investigating OneCoin, Ignatova quickly left. She vanished in October 2017, taking a flight from Sofia to Athens. According to resources, the ongoing investigation has revealed her close ties with Hristoforos Nikos Amanatidis, the suspected Bulgarian organised crime boss. As he is also known, Taki is in charge of her security.

She was charged by the US District Court, and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest. As of 2024, she remains on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. Sources revealed that the Crypto Queen recently resurfaced with links to a property in London. However, she remains at large.

Ruja scammed investors out of more than $4 billion with the Ponzi scheme and remains at large. With her on the wanted list, officials have offered a $100,000 reward for anyone who comes forward with information on her whereabouts.

Speculation about Ruja’s death

With Ruja Igantova still being a hot topic, there is speculation that she may be dead. Others believe she is simply hiding.

Recently, the biggest belief is that Taki, the Bulgarian crime figure, may have been responsible for her death. It is thought that Taki ordered her execution back in 2018, with the body being dismembered and dumped in the sea.

Leaked Europol documents have shown that Taki was connected to her disappearance after the scam and that he also made use of OneCoin’s network to launder funds for his drug trafficking operations.

The reality is that nobody has been found, and until a body has been found, she may be alive and on the run or killed. Only proof of her death or an arrest will resolve the mystery surrounding her whereabouts.

A brother’s escape

Konstantin Ignatov, Ruja’s brother and co-founder, worked for the company. News revealed that he was dismissed from the class action lawsuit after agreeing to testify against his sister. He is still a defendant in another US Department of Justice legal action. With the latter, he could be facing up to 90 years in prison.

Ignatov got his freedom after 34 months in prison for involvement in the OneCoin scam. He agreed to cooperate with the US prosecutors and testified against a former lawyer, Mark Scott, who was believed to have laundered $400 million in the scheme. Scott got 10 years in prison.

The district court judge, Edgardo Ramos, gave Ignatov a ‘time served’ verdict, after which Ignatov took responsibility for his actions and expressed his gratitude. Over the next two years, Ignatov remained under court supervision and had to give back the $118,000 he received at OneCoin.

Sebastian Karl Greenwood, the other co-founder, was sentenced to 20 years for involvement with the OneCoin cryptocurrency scam. The OneCoin key recruiter, Le Quoc-Hung, has recently reappeared and is said to be promoting another scam. Right now, there is no information on his whereabouts.

The aftermath

OneCoin was a big scam which generated around $4.4 billion. This is only the amount that has been uncovered throughout the class-action lawsuit. However, some sources worked closely with OneCoin, claiming they could’ve stolen around $19.4 billion.

The Private Investigation Agency, Digitpol, states that law enforcement in China has recovered only around $267 million, and 98 people have been prosecuted throughout this process.

According to sources, OneCoin had over 3.5 million members, although this figure is thought to be exaggerated. OneCoin left a trail of victims behind, and there is no telling if they will ever get their funds back.

The USA courts are focusing on a global OneCoin victim asset recovery fund that will encourage interest from lawyers who can assist in helping victims recover their funds. 

Latest Update: The Department of State has offered a reward of up to $5 million through the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program for information that resulted in the arrest and conviction of Ruja Ignatova, who is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

Tips to avoid scams

There are a couple of things you can do to avoid crypto scams. Here are some tips to help you avoid scams.

  • Always educate yourself on what is happening in crypto, from the latest trends and technology to potential threats.
  • Before investing in any cryptocurrency, verify the project's legitimacy.
  • Only make use of reputable exchanges and crypto wallets.
  • Remain a sceptic of unrealistic promises. Anyone who promises quick riches should be avoided.
  • Remember that cryptocurrency is highly volatile, and investing comes with risks.
  • Make sure your crypto wallet is secure with multi-factor authentication and strong passwords.
  • When checking out a new cryptocurrency, double-check the URL for authenticity.

Above all else, stay smart, play safe when investing, and never rush into any ‘get rich quick’ schemes.

Article by Polly

CasinoWow Contributor

Hey guys, my name is Polina but my friends and colleagues call me Polly. I am truly passionate about online casino gaming and exploring the different online gambling experiences. I'm really into diving deep into topics and researching all the details. My aim is to gather the best information and write interesting articles for all the readers at CasinoWow.

Anything incorrect or missing?

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