Mon, 06 Feb 2023

FBI's most wanted woman sends signal from hiding
23 Jan 2023, 04:13 GMT+10

After years of silence, alleged crypto fraudster Ruja Ignatova has put her luxury London apartment up for sale

Ruja Ignatova, who is accused by the US of scamming investors out of more than $4 billion, recently attached her name to a luxury property listed for sale in London. The legal filing is the first sign of life from the German national since she vanished without a trace more than five years ago.

Lawyers representing Ignatova made a claim to the four-bedroom flat last week, iNews reported on Thursday. The property was previously registered to an anonymous company registered in Guernsey, but was discovered to belong to Ignatova by BBC journalists in 2021.

The apartment was listed for sale last week at a price of Pound 11 million ($13.6 million), and was described by Knight Frank auction house as an "impressive four bedroom penthouse." However, as of Sunday, it has apparently been withdrawn from sale, according to multiple UK property websites.

Ignatova, known in the media as the 'Cryptoqueen', is the founder of OneCoin, a Ponzi scheme that sold worthless tokens which buyers would later discover they couldn't cash out for real money. Investors were promised extra tokens if they recruited more investors, and the pyramid scheme swelled until her company had "defrauded victims out of more than $4 billion," according to the FBI.

With investors getting impatient and a long-promised exchange service yet to materialize, she scheduled a speech in Lisbon in October 2017, during which she promised to tell them when they could finally sell their tokens. Ignatova never showed up, and the FBI states that her last known movement was to catch a flight from Bulgaria - where she was born - to the Greek capital of Athens that month.

A New York court issued a warrant for Ignatova's arrest in October 2017, and she was charged in 2018 with wire fraud, money laundering, securities fraud, and conspiracy. She is currently the only woman on the FBI's ten most wanted fugitives list, and the agency is offering a reward of $100,000 for information leading to her arrest.

Ignatova's claim to the apartment is "one of the most interesting developments in the story," Jamie Bartlett, who hosts a podcast on the Onecoin saga, told iNews. "It suggests she is still alive, and there are documents out there somewhere which contain vital clues as to her recent whereabouts."


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