Missing ‘Crypto Queen’ Ruja Ignatova Found Alive After Vanishing 5 Years Ago – A property listing in London’s center has revealed the presence of a notorious cryptocurrency criminal behind a $4 billion Ponzi scheme. Ruja Ignatova, a 42-year-old Bulgarian-German national, and her accomplice Sebastian Greenwood tricked crypto investors by promoting OneCoin as a “Bitcoin killer”. They began promoting OneCoin to potential investors in 2014, offering a five to tenfold return.
However, the scammer referred to investors as “idiots” and “crazy”. In October 2017, as authorities closed in, the scammer disappeared and has been missing ever since. Ruja Ignatova is now on the FBI’s list of the top 10 most-wanted fugitives and is the only woman on the list. Police suspect she has undergone plastic surgery to alter her appearance, and the likelihood of her capture is low. However, she recently emerged to claim ownership of one of her properties.
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A penthouse apartment in Kensington, London was recently listed for sale with an initial asking price of £12.5 million ($15.5 million), later lowered to £11 million ($13.6 million). The buyer, Ignatova, purchased the property through a company but a new regulation now requires full disclosure of the company’s beneficiary. The lawyers of Ignatova submitted a legal request for the property, designating Ignatova as the “real owner” in a submission to the UK financial authority.
A revision in the Companies House regulations, which is similar to ASIC, required Ignatova to reveal her full identity rather than hiding behind a shell company. Previously, Abbots House Penthouse Limited, based in the tax haven of Guernsey, owned the property, keeping it off public records and land registry. However, it has now come to light. Prestige property seller Knight Frank had listed the property but removed it once they found out that it was associated with Ignatova.
Investigative journalist Jamie Bartlett, host of the “The Missing Cryptoqueen” podcast produced in collaboration with the BBC, initially discovered a weak connection between the scammer and the penthouse. However, now that this connection has been confirmed, Bartlett stated it could be a major development. “The world’s most wanted woman is now officially listed as the ultimate beneficial owner of a London penthouse,” he told iNews. “It suggests she is still alive, and there are documents out there somewhere which contain vital clues as to her recent whereabouts.”
“If nothing else it should make it easier for the authorities to freeze that asset – and maybe even start getting money back to victims.” The US Department of Prosecutions has 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 launched their most wanted list in 1950 and of the 529 fugitives that have earned an honorable mention, she’s one of just 11 women. They are desperate to get their hands on the conwoman, offering a $100,000 reward for intel that ultimately leads to her arrest.
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The other co-founder of OneCoin, Sebastian Greenwood, also fled, but was quickly caught. Unlike Ignatova, Greenwood was arrested in Koh Samui, Thailand in July 2018 and extradited to the US where he admitted guilt to wire fraud, plotting wire fraud and plotting money laundering. He faces sentencing in April and may receive a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. However, OneCoin is no longer operational, with the token unusable and the website inactive.