Offering a $100,000 reward for information, The FBI has added Dr. Ruja Ignatova, the self-proclaimed “Crypto Queen,” to its list of Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives. U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, has described her as “an international fugitive who allegedly masterminded a worldwide fraud.”
As founder of cryptocurrency OneCoin, launched in 2014, the Bulgarian-based Ignatova is accused of defrauding more than $4 billion from investors over three years. Now, authorities cannot find Ignatova’s whereabouts as she attempts to evade arrest.
“She may travel on a German passport to the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece and/or Eastern Europe,” said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, adding that as part of her large-scale fraud, she “made false statements and representations to individuals in order to solicit investments.”
The FBI further notes that Ignatova was indicted by a federal grand jury and issued a warrant for her arrest by the Southern District of New York in October 2017.
Upon news of Ignatova’s indictment being made public in 2019, William Sweeney Jr., FBI assistant director in charge of the New York office, said, “OneCoin was a cryptocurrency existing only in the minds of its creators and their co-conspirators. It offered investors no method of tracing their money, and it could not be used to purchase anything. In fact, the only ones who stood to benefit from its existence were its founders and co-conspirators.”
Court records detailing just how Ignatova benefitted reveal she used her ill-gotten gains on race horses in the United Arab Emirates, and real estate in Serbia, NBC News reports.
Charged with one count each of wire fraud, securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Ignatova was a resident of Sofia, Bulgaria, before she flew to Greece and vanished. She speaks English, German and Bulgarian.
Ignatova is believed to travel with armed guards and may have altered her appearance, according to the FBI.
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