Missing Cryptocurrency Queen Ruja Ignatova Found Alive After Disappearing 5 Years Ago
A property listing in central London attracted a notorious cryptocurrency fugitive who ran a $4 billion Ponzi scheme.
42-year-old German citizen Ruja Ignatova and her business partner named Sebastian Greenwood scammed crypto enthusiasts by claiming that their OneCoin cryptocurrency token would be a “bitcoin killer.”
They started offering it to potential investors in 2014, promising 5x and 10x returns, and called their investors “idiots” and “crazy.”
However, in October 2017, the scammer disappeared completely as the authorities surrounded her and she has not been seen since.
Now she is on the FBI’s list of the 10 most wanted fugitives and is the only woman on the list of criminals.
The police warned that she likely had plastic surgery to change her appearance and had little hope that she would ever be caught.
But earlier this month, Ignatova reportedly stormed out of control to claim one of her properties.
A few days ago, a penthouse in the London suburb of Kensington, England, was put up for sale with an asking price of £12.5m. [$15.5 million] which was then downgraded to £11 million. [$13.6 million].
It is understood that Ignatova purchased the property in the name of the company, but the new rule means that the beneficiary of that company must also be listed in full.
As a result, lawyers representing Ignatova filed a formal claim against the property, listing her as the “beneficial owner” of the apartment in a document filed with the UK financial regulator.
A change in the rules of the Companies House – the British equivalent of ASIC – forced Ignatova out of hiding, as she had to be named in full, not just a shell company.
The property was previously owned by Guernsey-based Abbots House Penthouse Limited, a well-known tax haven with very little government oversight.
This meant that Ignatova was not listed in public registers and acts of the land cadastre – until now.
Luxury real estate seller Knight Frank advertised the property, but quickly removed the ad when it turned out that Ignatova had connections to him.
Investigative reporter Jamie Bartlett, anchor The Lost Queen of Crypto the podcast, in conjunction with the BBC, initially noted a minor connection between the scammer and the penthouse.
This link has now been confirmed. Bartlett said it could be a breakthrough.
“The most wanted woman in the world is now officially listed as the ultimate beneficial owner of a London penthouse,” he told iNews.
“This suggests that she is still alive and there are documents somewhere containing vital clues to her recent whereabouts.
“If anything, it will be easier for the authorities to freeze this asset and maybe even start returning money to the victims.”
The US Department of Criminal Prosecution charged Ignatova with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud.
The FBI compiled a list of the most wanted criminals in 1950, and of the 529 fugitives who deserve an honorable mention, she is one of 11 women.
They are desperate to get their hands on the con artist, offering a $100,000 reward for information that will eventually lead to her arrest.
According to the FBI, the cryptocurrency queen may have traveled on a German passport from Athens, perhaps to the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Russia, Eastern Europe, or even back to Bulgaria.
The American lawyer prosecuting Ignatova, Damian Williams, released a condemning statement last month stating that her crypto tokens are worthless.
“The OneCoins were actually completely worthless,” he said, according to CNN.
“(Her) lies were designed with one goal in mind – to make ordinary people around the world part with their hard-earned money.”
“She left with a huge amount of cash,” FBI spokesman Michael Driscoll added.
“Money can buy a lot of friends, and I think she takes advantage of that.”
Ignatova’s associates were less fortunate.
Another co-founder of OneCoin, Sebastian Greenwood, also fled.
However, unlike Ignatova, he did not remain free for long.
Back in July 2018, he was arrested in Koh Samui, Thailand and extradited to the US, where he pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to money laundering. He will be sentenced in April and could receive up to 20 years in prison.
Ignatova’s brother, Konstantin Ignatova, took over the operation after she ran away.
He was arrested in March 2019 at the Los Angeles airport when he was about to board a flight to Bulgaria.
He has since pleaded guilty to wire conspiracy, money laundering and fraud charges, and is due to be sentenced next month.
OneCoin is no longer active, the token is no longer usable, and the website is inactive.
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