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A Bulgarian female citizen, Ruja Ignatova, who is well known by her subpoena, the “Crypto Queen” which she earned after she raised and swindled billions of dollars in a fraudulent virtual currency scheme has been slammed on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list today.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation have also put up a handsome $100,000 reward for Ruja Ignatova, who had disappeared and gone underground in Greece in October 2017 around the time US authorities filed a sealed indictment and warrant for her arrest.
The 42-year-old Ignatova who has also been identified as a German citizen, was behind one of the most notorious scams in the frequently treacherous world of crypto currencies.
In 2014 she launched OneCoin, ostensibly aiming to replace Bitcoin as the world’s leading virtual money. Tapping a global network to market the coin to friends and family in exchange for their own payouts, she and co-conspirators had dpulled in at least $3.4 billion and possibly over $4 billion, according to court documents.
Officials said that OneCoin was not backed by any secured, independent blockchain-type technology as other crypto currencies are. Instead, they said, it was a classic Ponzi scheme, in which early investors are encouraged to find others and then paid out by receipts from later investors.
“OneCoin claimed to have a private blockchain,” said FBI Special Agent Ronald Shimko in a statement.
“This is in contrast to other virtual currencies, which have a decentralized and public blockchain. In this case, investors were just asked to trust OneCoin,” he said.
Ignatova disappeared in 2017 as international investigators began to close in on her group.
“Investigators believe Ignatova may have been tipped off that she was under investigation by US and international authorities,” the FBI said Thursday.
“She traveled from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Athens, Greece, on October 25, 2017, and has not been seen since.”
On May 11, Europol announced it had added Ignatova to its most wanted list, and offered a 5,000 euro ($5,200) reward for information on her whereabouts.