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US State Department Offers $5 Million for Information on OneCoin’s ‘Cryptoqueen’

ByDayne Lee

Jun 27, 2024

US State Department Offers $5 Million for Information on OneCoin’s ‘Cryptoqueen’

The United States Department of State has dramatically increased the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ruja Ignatova, the elusive founder of the notorious cryptocurrency scheme, OneCoin. This action underscores the ongoing efforts by U.S. authorities to apprehend Ignatova, who has been dubbed the ‘Cryptoqueen’ due to her central role in one of the most infamous frauds in the cryptocurrency industry.

The Reward Increase

Initially featured on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) “ten most wanted fugitives” list in June 2022 with a $100,000 reward, the bounty for Ignatova’s capture has seen substantial increments. In 2023, this amount was raised to $250,000. As of the latest update from the State Department’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, the reward has escalated to a staggering $5 million for information that directly leads to Ignatova’s arrest and conviction. Her last known location was in Athens in October 2017.

Ignatova, who holds a German passport, has been charged by U.S. authorities with fraud and money laundering since 2017. There is speculation that she may have altered her appearance through plastic surgery to evade capture. As the situation intensifies, the FBI continues to track down leads that could potentially lead to her whereabouts.

OneCoin’s Impact and Legal Repercussions

Launched in 2014, OneCoin was soon exposed as a fraudulent operation by 2015, having deceived investors out of approximately $4 billion. The scam has led to multiple criminal prosecutions in the U.S., involving close associates of Ignatova:

  • Gilbert Armenta: Ignatova’s boyfriend and one of the early promoters.
  • Mark Scott: Lawyer who allegedly helped launder proceeds.
  • Irina Dilkinska: Former head of legal and compliance.
  • Karl Sebastian Greenwood: Co-founder of OneCoin.
  • William Morro: Involved in the operational aspects.

In addition to these prosecutions, Ignatova’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, also heavily involved in the scheme, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering in 2019. He served 34 months in prison before his release in March 2024.

In a recent development, U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, Kenneth Merten, alongside Bulgaria’s Acting Prosecutor General Borislav Sarafov, announced that Ignatova would also be charged in absentia in Bulgaria. This adds an international dimension to the legal pursuit, highlighting the widespread impact of the OneCoin fraud across multiple jurisdictions.

OneCoin Founded2014Launch of the cryptocurrency scheme.
Exposure as a Fraud2015OneCoin is revealed to be a fraudulent operation.
Initial FBI RewardJune 2022$100,000 reward announced for information on Ignatova.
Reward Increased2023Reward raised to $250,000.
Latest Reward UpdateJune 2024Reward increased to $5 million by the US State Department.

The ongoing pursuit of Ruja Ignatova reflects a serious commitment by U.S. and international authorities to address and rectify the significant financial and social damage inflicted by the OneCoin scam. The substantial increase in the reward for her capture indicates the high priority given to this case, emphasizing the importance of bringing Ignatova to justice and providing closure to the victims of one of the largest frauds in the history of cryptocurrency.

Featured image credit: Ken Lund via Flickr

Dayne Lee

With a foundation in financial day trading, I transitioned to my current role as an editor, where I prioritize accuracy and reader engagement in our content. I excel in collaborating with writers to ensure top-quality news coverage. This shift from finance to journalism has been both challenging and rewarding, driving my commitment to editorial excellence.

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