|FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive|
|Born||Ruzha Plamenova Ignatova|
30 May 1980
|Penalty||16 months' suspended imprisonment for a previous case. Up to 90 years for the Ponzi scheme|
|Added||June 30, 2022|
|Currently a Top Ten Fugitive|
Ruja Ignatova (Bulgarian: Ружа Пламенова Игнатова, romanized: Ruzha Plamenova Ignatova; born 30 May 1980) is a Bulgarian-German convicted fraudster. She is best known as the founder of a Ponzi scheme known as OneCoin, which The Times has described as "one of the biggest scams in history". She was the subject of the 2019 BBC podcast series The Missing Cryptoqueen.
Since 2017, Ignatova has been on the run from various international law enforcement agencies. In early 2019, she was charged in absentia by U.S. authorities for wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. She was added to the FBI Ten Most Wanted in June 2022.
Early life and education
Born in Ruse, Bulgaria, in 1980, Ignatova emigrated to Germany with her family when she was ten years old, and spent part of her childhood in Schramberg in the state of Baden-Württemberg. She got her BA from University of Oxford and in 2005, she earned a PhD in private international law from the University of Constance with the dissertation Art. 5 Nr. 1 EuGVO – Chancen und Perspektiven der Reform des Gerichtsstands am Erfüllungsort, which discusses lex causae in conflict of laws. She reportedly has also worked for McKinsey & Company.
In 2012, she was convicted of fraud in Germany in connection with her and her father Plamen Ignatov's acquisition of a company that shortly afterwards was declared bankrupt in dubious circumstances; she was given a suspended sentence of 14 months' imprisonment.
In 2022, the police in Germany confirmed an investigation of "a lawyer from Neu-Isenburg" for possible money laundering: the transfer of 7.69 million euros by Ignatova into one of his private accounts in 2016. In January 2022 police searched apartments and offices in Weilburg, Baden-Baden, Frankfurt am Main, Bad Homburg, Neu-Isenburg and Vaihingen.
In May 2022, Europol added Ignatova to its 'most wanted' list. On 30 June 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation added Ignatova to the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, at a joint press conference with IRS Criminal Investigation and United States Attorney's Office Southern District of New York, offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to her arrest.
Ignatova was married to a German lawyer, with whom she had a daughter in 2016.
- "Cryptoqueen: How this woman scammed the world, then ran". BBC. November 24, 2019.
- Cellan-Jones, Rory (September 26, 2019). "The mystery of the disappearing 'Cryptoqueen'". BBC.
- Bartlett, Jamie (December 15, 2019). "The £4bn OneCoin scam: how crypto-queen Dr Ruja Ignatova duped ordinary people out of billions — then went missing". The Times.
- Morris, David Z (November 6, 2019). "Is OneCoin The Biggest Financial Fraud in History?". Fortune. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
- "BKA - Fahndung nach Personen - Ruja IGNATOVA". www.bka.de. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
- "The Outrageous Case of OneCoin, the Billion Dollar Scam Sold as a "Bitcoin Killer"". www.bitrates.com.
- "Cryptoqueen: How this woman scammed the world, then vanished". BBC News. BBC. November 24, 2019. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
- "Abgeschlossene Promotionen". www.jura.uni-konstanz.de.
- Marson, James (August 27, 2020). "OneCoin Took In Billions. Then Its Leader Vanished". The Wall Street Journal.
- Stier, Frank. "Das Verstummen der Cryptoqueen". heise online.
- "So etwas Dubioses nie erlebt". Kreisbote. January 20, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
- "BigCoin & BNA: The original OneCoin Ponzi points".
- "'Cryptoqueen' brother admits role in OneCoin fraud". BBC News. November 14, 2019.
- Rosenbach, Marcel (May 27, 2022). "Krypto-Betrug mit OneCoin: Weiteres Verfahren und Durchsuchungen". Der Spiegel (in German). ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
- Daly, Max (May 12, 2022). "OneCoin's Missing 'Crypto Queen' Is Now One of Europe's Most-Wanted Fugitives". VICE.
- Dilanian, Ken; Winter, Tom (June 30, 2022). "The 'CryptoQueen' is now one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted". NBC News. Retrieved June 30, 2022.