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Cryptoqueen Nowhere to Be Found as Fraud Trial Begins

2 mins
Updated by Ryan Boltman
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In Brief

  • Three individuals accused of playing a part in Ruja Ignatova's OneCoin scam appeared in a court in Germany today.
  • The scam allegedly started in 2014 in Bulgaria, and cost investors about $4 billion.
  • Ignatova has been on the run since Oct. 17, 2022.
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Three associates of OneCoin mastermind Ruja Ignatova (aka Cryptoqueen) appeared in a German court on Oct. 18, 2022.

The three individuals are on trial after being accused of money laundering, fraud, and other bank-related crimes.

Cryptoqueen abandons ship

One of the accused is Ignatova’s former lawyer, who allegedly transferred $19.7 million to the Cayman Islands for Ignatova to buy two London apartments. The other two are a couple who handled 320 million euros worth of OneCoin customer funds in a year. 

A German court prosecutor tasked with reading the indictment against the accused parties called OneCoin a scam.

According to the indictment, Ignatova falsely claimed OneCoin to be a cryptocurrency subject to easily-observable market forces, whose mining activities yielded 50,000 coins per minute.

“In reality, the ever-growing value was a fake and the mining process was only simulated by the software,” the prosecution asserted.

The coin was also not widely accepted and had low value and liquidity.

Cryptoqueen success formula

Holding a law degree from Oxford University and always impeccably dressed, Ignatova won over 3 million clients from over 100 countries, despite not having so much as a functional blockchain to demonstrate. She started the OneCoin scam in Bulgaria in 2014, defrauding investors of more than $4 billion. Between Q4 2014 and Q4 2016, the company claimed it had made $2.2 billion in profit.

Ignatova allegedly dangled a commission in front of investors who sold OneCoin to others and advised anyone wishing to exit the scheme to “take the money and run.” Authorities at the time called it a classic Ponzi scheme that offered high-interest rates with minimal risk.

Her whereabouts are unknown, and she has successfully evaded apprehension attempts by U.S. and European law enforcement. She has been on the run since Oct. 2017 after fleeing from Bulgaria. Some believe that she has fled to Greece, while a reporter for the Daily Mail, Jamie Bartlett, who has been tracking the Cryptoqueen, said that she went back to Bulgaria before going to Dubai and is now dwelling on a private yacht.

She is currently on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s list of the ten most wanted fugitives.

Since Ignatova disappeared, her brother Konstantin assumed leadership of the company. He was arrested in 2019 in the U.S.A. for wire and securities fraud and has entered into a plea bargain to work with U.S. law enforcement.

In June 2022, Sky Germany, Fremantle, and the U.K.’s channel signed a deal to create a documentary series of the OneCoin scandal entitled “Cryptoqueen.”

For Be[In]Crypto’s latest Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...
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