Dr. Ruja Ignatova, the founder of OneCoin, has been located for more than five years after disappearing from public view. This month, a document filed with the U.K. government has connected Ignatova to a London property, identifying her as the ultimate beneficiary of Abbots House Penthouse Limited, a corporation based in the tax haven of Guernsey that purchased a multi-million dollar penthouse apartment in Kensington.
Who Is Ruja Ignatova?
Ruja Ignatova, the founder of OneCoin, appeared to be successful before launching one of the world’s most infamous cryptocurrency scams. She held a law degree from Oxford University and worked at McKinsey consulting firm. Ignatova created OneCoin Ltd in 2014, promoting it as a “bitcoin killer”. However, investigators found that she made false claims to attract large sums of money from investors who didn’t fully understand cryptocurrency.
Her impressive resume, Oxford education, and McKinsey experience, combined with her striking presence and speeches at glamorous events, lured many people to OneCoin. Unfortunately, they didn’t know that the company lacked a blockchain.
OneCoin had a global reach with over three million investors from over 100 countries. Records show that between 2014 and 2016, the company generated €3.353 billion in sales revenue and “profits” worth €2.232 billion. Capitalizing on the early days of cryptocurrency speculation, Ignatova promised high returns with low risk to investors, according to prosecutors. She incentivized buyers with a commission to recruit more investors to buy into her fraudulent currency.
How Did the OneCoin Scam Operate?
The scam involved false claims made by Ignatova and other OneCoin representatives, who misled victims with fraudulent and deceitful statements. They promised that OneCoin was “mined” through mining servers and its value was based on supply and demand, supposedly growing from €0.50 to €29.95 per coin (January 2019).
In reality, OneCoin was not mined, and its value was controlled solely by Ignatova and her associates. Additionally, the alleged blockchain was not secure and had no real value, as the OneCoin tokens could not be actively traded, used to purchase anything, or tracked by investors.
Is OneCoin Founder Alive?
In 2014, OneCoin began pitching to potential investors, promising 5 to 10 times their investment returns. Ignatova and her associates reportedly referred to investors as “idiots” and “crazy”. In October 2017, Ignatova vanished as law enforcement closed in and has not been seen since. She is currently the only woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted List and is among their top 10 most-wanted fugitives. The FBI is offering a reward of $100,000 for information that leads to the arrest of Ignatova and has warned that she may have undergone plastic surgery to change her appearance.
Ruja Ignatova is the newest addition to the #FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List. She's #wanted for allegedly leading a fraud scheme that affected millions of investors worldwide. We're offering a reward of up to $100,000 for info leading to her arrest. https://t.co/5mk0NccE7x pic.twitter.com/xKoj0RN6BZ
— FBI (@FBI) June 30, 2022
It is claimed that Ignatova reappeared this month to claim ownership of one of her properties. A penthouse apartment located in Kensington, London, recently went up for sale with an initial price tag of $15.5 million, which was later reduced to $13.6 million. Although Ignatova purchased the property under a corporation’s name, a recent rule now requires the full name of the company’s beneficial owner to be disclosed.
Therefore, lawyers acting on behalf of Ignatova submitted a declaration naming her as the “beneficial owner” of the apartment in a filing with the U.K.’s financial regulatory body.
The penthouse apartment in London was previously owned by a Guernsey-based company named Abbots House Penthouse Limited, with limited government supervision. This kept Ignatova’s property ownership hidden from public records and the land registry.
However, a recent change in Companies House rules in the U.K. required the full name of the beneficial owner to be disclosed, forcing Ignatova to reveal herself as the owner in a filing with the U.K. financial regulator. Prestige property seller Knight Frank had advertised the property but quickly took down the listing when Ignatova’s connection was revealed.
Where Is She Now?
The “Crypto Queen” vanished in 2017 when global investigation agencies sought her. She disappeared after monitoring her American boyfriend’s apartment, who was assisting an FBI investigation into OneCoin. Ignatova boarded a flight from Bulgaria to Athens, Greece and has been unaccounted for since her arrival from Sofia, Bulgaria.
Reportedly, several individuals connected to her have faced the consequences for their involvement in the suspected scam. In 2019, a U.S. District Court in Manhattan found OneCoin’s lawyer Mark Scott guilty of conspiring to commit money laundering and bank fraud. Konstantin Ignatova, the brother of OneCoin’s main figurehead, has also admitted guilt regarding fraud and money laundering charges.
Last month, OneCoin’s co-founder Karl Sebastion Greenwood confessed to committing wire fraud and money laundering, per charges pressed by the Southern District of New York’s prosecutors. Additionally, charges were revealed against a previous intelligence official from Luxembourg who stated that he served as a “crisis manager” at OneCoin.