A Bulgarian woman wanted by the FBI over an alleged cryptocurrency scam was in Ireland before she disappeared, according to a British journalist who has been searching for her for years.
r Ruja Ignatova is accused of defrauding investors out of $4 billion (£3.3 billion) by selling a fake cryptocurrency called OneCoin.
The FBI has Dr. Ruja was recently added to its 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list and is now offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to her capture.
British journalist Jamie Bartlett is the author of The Missing Crypto Queenand the star of the BBC podcast of the same name.
He spoke to him Indo Daily about the illusory Dr. Ruja, whom he called one of the “richest criminals of all time”, and her connection to Ireland.
Mr. Bartlett said Dr. Ruja was originally charged by US officials two weeks before she disappeared.
“I think she may have been in Dublin a few weeks before she was arrested too and no one knows why and no one can be sure.
The Indo Daily: FBI’s Most Wanted – The Bulgarian Crypto Queen, a $4 Billion Scam and Her Irish Connections
“So if anyone was in Dublin in October 2017 and vaguely remembers them, please get in touch.”
“She’s a German-Bulgarian businesswoman who basically showed up in 2014 at the age of 34 and told the world you’ve heard about bitcoin, you’ve seen everyone get rich off bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that will revolutionize money , and you’ve missed the boat with this one. But the good news is I have a better one. It’s called OneCoin. It’s easier, it’s clearer, it’s early. So if you invest now, the price will keep going up,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett said that by 2016, OneCoin “captured the imagination” of investors around the world, with over 1 million people from 175 countries investing about $4 billion in the product.
However, investors never received the payout that Dr. Ruja had repeatedly promised, and in October 2017 she disappeared.
Mr. Bartlett said Dr. Ruja modeled herself as a sort of messianic figure, but what she really created was an “elaborate pyramid scheme.”
He said she got away with at least $500 million.
“It seems possible that she actually did a very clever deal in 2015 to trade her company for 230,000 bitcoin, which was worth $50 million at the time but is worth around $4-5 billion right now,” he said.
“If she did that and she’s still holding on to those bitcoins, I think we’re talking about someone who’s one of the wealthiest criminals of all time. So I don’t know if she spent a lot of that money hiding, protecting, that’s expensive.
“You have to keep paying people off. So maybe she burned a lot of money too.”
OneCoin was essentially a “multi-level marketing” scam, according to Mr. Bartlett, with people buying thousands of dollars worth of OneCoin and then recruiting others to also buy the cryptocurrency. He said that while people could never cash out their OneCoin, they would get some commission for recruiting others.
“Every time that happened, a small commission went up the pyramid, but we’re selling people some kind of thin air,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/news/fbi-most-wanted-missing-crypto-queen-believed-to-be-in-dublin-just-two-weeks-before-disappearance-41824495.html The FBI’s most wanted “Missing Crypto Queen” is said to have been in Dublin just two weeks before she disappeared