Ruya Ignatova, the organizer of the infamous Onecoin pyramid scheme, is now one of the most wanted fugitives in Europe. Also known as the “cryptocurrency queen,” she disappeared almost five years ago after the Ponzi scheme she headed collected billions of dollars from defrauded investors around the world.
Europol requests information on the whereabouts of Onecoin’s inventor
The European Union’s law enforcement cooperation agency, Europol, is offering a reward of up to €5,000 ($5,200) for any information that could lead to the arrest of Rui Ignatova, suspected of running one of the biggest cryptocurrency scams in history, Onecoin.
The announcement describes Ignatova, a doctor of law, as “the driving force and intellectual inventor of the alleged cryptocurrency Onecoin.” She is suspected of encouraging investors around the world to invest in “this virtually worthless ‘currency,'” Europol notes.
The agency also points out that the losses established so far related to the Ponzi scheme fraud are in the upper double-digit millions range, while acknowledging that the total damage caused globally is likely to be several billion dollars. Europol explains:
The whereabouts of the wanted person have been unknown since October 25, 2017, and she has not appeared in public in connection with OneCoin or otherwise since that date.
Ignatova is charged with “fraud, including affecting the financial interests of the European Communities within the meaning of the Convention of July 26, 1995.” The promised reward is only for individuals who will provide important information about her whereabouts, not for officials prosecuting criminal offenses.
Cryptocurrency has been added to Europe’s most wanted list by German law enforcement. According to an announcement published by the police of the western German province of North Rhine-Westphalia, a reward of 5,000 euros was offered by the Bielefeld city prosecutor’s office.
Onecoin was launched by Bulgarian-born, German citizen Rui Ignatov in 2014. The cryptocurrency project was advertised as a “bitcoin killer” and promoted through Bulgarian-based offshore companies Onecoin Ltd. registered in Dubai and Onelife Network Ltd. registered in Belize. Both companies were founded by Ignatova and her partner Sebastian Greenwood, who is now in prison in the United States
Ruge’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, who also co-founded Onecoin, was arrested in Los Angeles in 2019 and charged with financial crimes. He has since begun cooperating with investigators working on the case, testified about Onecoin’s ties to organized crime, pleaded guilty, and asked for witness protection.
In November, a lawyer representing investors called on Bulgaria to take action on the case, arguing that the fraud is still operating out of the country. In a petition to the Bulgarian ombudsman, Jonathan Levy accused officials of failing to provide justice for victims. He also argued that the Ignatovs and Onecoin structures still control more than 12.5 billion euros (more than $13 billion) worth of property, crypto-assets, and fiat funds.
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