Crime | July 2, 2022 4:41 pm

Crypto Scam Fugitive Ruja Ignatova Joins FBI Most Wanted List

She's been on the run since 2017

OneCoin logo
The offices of Ruja Ignatova's cryptocurrency OneCoin.
Ronny Martin Junnilainen, CC BY-SA 3.0

In 2014, Ruja Ignatova founded OneCoin, which looked on paper like an ambitious cryptocurrency designed to rival BitCoin. Ignatova soon amassed a fortune, purchasing — according to a recent article in The Daily Beast — a sprawling London apartment and art by Andy Warhol. The fact that Ignatova has been on the run since 2017 is one indicator that OneCoin was not, as they say, on the level.

This week, the FBI added Ignatova to its list of the top ten “Most Wanted” fugitives, citing “her alleged leadership of a massive fraud scheme that affected millions of investors worldwide.” According to the announcement, she may have had cosmetic surgery and “is believed to travel with armed guards and/or associates.”

In other words, we’re basically in Bond villain territory here.

For those looking for more details on Ignatova’s rise and fall, there’s a new book out now by Jamie Bartlett, titled The Missing Cryptoqueen: The Billion Dollar Cryptocurrency Con and the Woman Who Got Away with It. CrimeReads recently published an excerpt from it, which helps explain what drew so many people to OneCoin in the first place.

“Rather than 21 million coins, there would only ever be 2.1 billion OneCoin in circulation,” Bartlett writes. “That number—2.1 billion—was everything. It was built into the technology itself, set in stone.” And if that sounds too good to be true, well — you know how the saying goes about things like that.