Ignatova, who is also a German citizen, was behind ‘OneCoin’, one of the most notorious scams in the frequently treacherous world of cryptocurrencies.
Thursday, the FBI’s 10 most wanted list was updated to include a Bulgarian lady dubbed the “Crypto Queen” for fraudulently raising billions of dollars through a virtual currency operation.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation offered a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the location of Ruja Ignatova, who vanished in Greece in October 2017 around the time US officials issued a sealed indictment and arrest order for her.
The 42-year-old German national was responsible for one of the most prominent frauds in the perilous world of cryptocurrency.
Federal prosecutors allege that it was a Ponzi scam masquerading as a cryptocurrency.
Damian Williams, Manhattan’s chief federal prosecutor, remarked, “She precisely timed her plot to capitalise on the feverish speculation in the early days of Bitcoin.”
The FBI includes fugitives on its most-wanted list when it feels the public may be able to assist in their capture.
A notice released by the bureau on Thursday offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Ms. Ignatova, who was accused in 2019 with eight charges, including wire fraud and securities fraud.
She is the only woman on the FBI’s list of the 10 most wanted individuals.
Jamie Bartlett, whose BBC podcast investigation attracted global attention to Ms. Ignatova’s narrative and the financial impact OneCoin had on her claimed victims, stated on Thursday that the FBI’s statement enhanced the likelihood of her being apprehended.
“This is perhaps the most significant advance in the investigation since October 2017, when Dr. Ruja vanished,” he added.
Mr. Bartlett, who has spent years studying the issue, stated that one of the reasons it had been so difficult to locate Ruja Ignatova was because she vanished with at least $500 million (£411 million), allowing her to evade the law.
“We also suspect she has bogus identification documents of excellent quality and has altered her look,” he continued, increasing the prospect that she is no longer alive.
Ms. Ignatova was last seen in 2017 boarding a flight from Bulgaria to Greece, and she has been missing since.
Jen McAdam, a OneCoin victim, told the BBC in 2019 that she and her family and friends had thrown away a quarter of a million euros.
Ms. McAdam explained that it all began when a buddy sent her a message about an irresistible investment opportunity.
The Glaswegian, seated at her computer, opened a link and attended a OneCoin webinar.
During the next hour or so, she attentively listened to others discuss this exciting new cryptocurrency and how it may alter her financial situation.
Ms. McAdam described all of them as “very fast-paced, energetic, and passionate.” “You are really fortunate to be viewing this webinar right now.
You’re involved at such an early level, and it’s going to explode in value like Bitcoin. It will become bigger.”
Ms. McAdam stated that it took her months to realize the situation was a hoax.