Ruja Ignatova, nicknamed the “Queen of Cryptos”, is now part of the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. She is suspected of having extorted billions of dollars from her victims.
The FBI has just updated its list of the ten most wanted refugees. Among his “Most wanted” now Ruja Ignatova appears. This 42-year-old Bulgarian entrepreneur created OneCoin, a fake cryptocurrency sold to hundreds of thousands of investors. The amounts evaporated are counted in billions of dollars. The FBI promises one $ 100,000 reward anyone who is able to provide information to locate and arrest Ruja Ignatova.
This FBI publication follows a similar statement from Interpol. Last May, Interpol issued a “red message” reports that Ruja Ignatova was now wanted by all the police services in her network, which connects 195 countries around the world. This very “red message” comes from a study conducted in Germany on the OneCoin case.
The new bitcoin
The loop tightens around Ruja Ignatova. Holder of a law degree from the University of Oxford and former adviser to McKinsey, the charismatic entrepreneur created OneCoin in 2014. This new “revolutionary” cryptocurrency was then to replace bitcoin. In fact, OneCoin is not a cryptocurrency. It is not listed on any stock exchange platform. It is not based on blockchain technology, which is the basis of any crypto project. And when investors seek to get their share back, they systematically hit a wall. And with good reason: their money has flown into the pockets of OneCoin creators and a myriad of local merchants.
Ruja Ignatova’s stroke of genius is to have created one extensive network of sellers of this counterfeit financial product. To achieve this, she appealed to the biggest specialists in network marketing. This sales technique encourages buyers to become resellers themselves in order to earn a commission on the sale of products. In the case of OneCoin, this sales pattern can be compared to one ponzi scheme. When buyers wanted to raise their money, the pyramid structure began to crumble.
In late 2017, when the first cracks appeared, Ruja Ignatova simply disappeared from circulation. Two hypotheses are circulating. The first: she was murdered. She allegedly interfered with organized crime to launder the colossal sums that her fraudulent business has accumulated. Things would have gone wrong, she would have been eliminated.
“Our preferred hypothesis is that Ruja Ignatova sails in the Mediterranean, especially in Bulgaria.”
Second hypothesis: she has changed her identity. She would hide under a false name and would have changed her face thanks to plastic surgery. Journalist Jamie Bartlett, who has been investigating OneCoin scams for the BBC for years, believes this second hypothesis is the most plausible. He has just published a book on the subject, The Missing Crypto Queen (Ed. WH Allen). “Our best guess is that she sails in the Mediterranean, especially in Bulgaria,” explains Jamie Bartlett. A source of Bulgarian origin, active in Brussels in the crypto community, also told us about his belief in it Ruja Ignatova is currently in Bulgaria.
By tracing the trace of the creator of OneCoin, Jamie Bartlett managed to find his $ 6.9 million yacht, located in Sozopol in eastern Bulgaria. He also identified a house in Dubai where Ruja Ignatova would have spent part of her run, with his brother Konstantin Ignatov. The latter, who took over the reins of the OneCoin company from his sister, is currently imprisoned in the United States, where he is being prosecuted for fraud and money laundering. He pleads guilty and faces several decades in prison. His sentence is expected to fall in August next year.
The FBI investigation has shed light on the extent of OneCoin fraud. Investigators estimated the amount of money the victims paid over $ 4 billion. This is a low estimate, based on internal OneCoin documents, which only cover part of the years in which the scam was committed. According to certain estimates made by Jamie Bartlett, we would be closer to $ 15 billion.
The Belgian track leads to Laurent Louis
Hundreds of thousands of victims have invested their money in this fraudulent product. Belgium is no exception to the rule. In our country is the main dealer of OneCoin former federal deputy Laurent Louiselected at that time on the lists of the People’s Party of Mischäel Modrikamen.
After his only term in office (2010-2014), Laurent Louis converted to the sale of questionable financial products. Taking advantage of his fame gained as a deputy with conspiratorial and anti-system speeches, he began promoting OneCoin in his community in 2016. He managed to rally a network of up to 2,500 investors. At the heart of the health crisis, Laurent Louis continued to promote this fraudulent investment, as revealed by the investigative podcast “OneCoin, the Network” (Trends-Tendances).
The former deputy, who has become a seller of counterfeit cryptocurrency, is nevertheless under the influence of a forensic investigation in the OneCoin file. This was opened at the Charlerois Prosecution Service on March 16, 2017. More than five years later, the investigation is still ongoing, the prosecutor in charge of the case confirmed. We still do not know whether the case will be closed without further action, or whether Laurent Louis and his possible accomplices will one day be referred to criminal court.
Laurent Louis, for his part, no longer openly promotes financial products on his social networks. But we found his clues on Telegram messages. There is a live group with over 800 members. His biography is intriguing: “Laurent Louis. Former MP. Political analyst. Cryptocurrency coach.”
- OneCoin creator Ruja Ignatova is on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.
- She is suspected of having piloted a giant cryptocurrency scam that involved billions of dollars.
- In Belgium, the main dealer of OneCoin, former deputy Laurent Louis, is the subject of a legal investigation that has been open for five years.