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The FBI’s top 10 most wanted list includes Ruja Ignatova, commonly known as the “missing Cryptoqueen.” The Bulgarian woman, who is thought to be in her 40s, is sought after for her suspected participation in the operation of the OneCoin cryptocurrency fraud.
Federal agents allege that the wanted man used the plan to cheat people out of more than $4 billion (£3.2 billion). She has been missing since 2017 when US authorities issued an arrest warrant and detectives started hunting for her.
OneCoin, a self-described cryptocurrency, started paying consumers commission if they passed the money around to more people in 2014. FBI officials disagree, claiming that OneCoin had no value and was never protected by the blockchain technology that underlies other cryptocurrencies. Instead, it was effectively a Ponzi scheme disguising itself as a cryptocurrency, claim US prosecutors.
When the FBI thinks the public might be able to help locate a fugitive, it adds them to its most-wanted list.
When Ms. Ignatova was accused in 2019 of eight crimes, including wire fraud and securities fraud, a bureau notice issued on Thursday offered a $100,000 reward for any information that led to her capture.
The FBI’s 10 most wanted list only includes one other female.
The FBI’s declaration on Thursday enhanced the likelihood that the Cryptoqueen would be apprehended, according to Jamie Bartlett, whose BBC podcast investigation brought attention to Ms. Ignatova’s story and the financial impact OneCoin had on her alleged victims.
Since Dr. Ruja vanished in October 2017, he said, “this is likely the largest development in the investigation.”
According to Mr. Bartlett, who has been looking into the case for years, one of the reasons it had been so challenging to find Ruja Ignatova’s disappearance, which enabled her to evade capture, cost her at least $500 million (£411 million).
He went on to say, “We also believe she possesses high-quality bogus identification documents and has changed her look, raising the potential that she may even no longer be alive.”
Since she was last seen in 2017 getting on a plane from Bulgaria to Greece, Cryptoqueen has been missing.
Jen McAdam, a OneCoin victim, revealed to the BBC in 2019 that she and her friends and family had wasted a quarter of a million euros.
According to Ms. McAdam, it all began with a friend’s message about a fantastic investment opportunity. Then, the Glaswegian joined a OneCoin webinar by clicking a link while seated in front of her computer. She carefully observed individuals discussing this fascinating new coin and how it could change their fortunes over the course of the following hour or so.
She claimed it took Ms. McAdam months to realize it was all a hoax.
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