This “cryptoqueen” is now a crown jewel on the FBI’s most wanted list.
Ruja Ignatova, who is accused of defrauding investors of more than $4 billion, has been added to the federal agency’s 10 most wanted fugitives list, law enforcement said Thursday. The 42-year-old joins a list of wanted suspects that includes alleged murderers and leaders of drug cartels.
She is only the 11th woman to ever make the top 10 list in her 72-year history.
Ignatova, whose nickname is “Cryptoqueen,” has been on the run since 2017. She and her partner founded OneCoin, a Bulgaria-based company that marketed an alleged cryptocurrency that authorities called a scam. The FBI said millions of investors around the world have been enticed into giving her money since she founded OneCoin in 2014.
federal agencies are offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to their capture. They said she may be with armed guards.
“There are so many victims around the world who have been financially devastated by this,” said Special Agent Ronald Shimko, who is investigating the case from the FBI’s New York field office.
“We want to bring them to justice.”
The FBI believes that Ignatova may have received notice that she was under federal and international investigation shortly before her first arraignment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October 2017 on February 25, 2017 and has not been seen since .
She speaks English, German and Bulgarian and may be using a fake passport. She has brown eyes and dark hair, although investigators warn she may have changed her appearance.
Ignatova faces one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud.
Shimko said Ignatova, who lived lavishly, was targeting people who might not have fully understood the intricacies of cryptocurrencies but were fooled by her impressive resume and marketing of OneCoin.
“This network was created to become OneCoin and to drive growth,” she said at a 2016 event in London shared by the FBI. “Which I firmly believe will be the number one cryptocurrency in the world.”
She went on to claim, “OneCoin is easy to use, OneCoin is for everyone.”