After five years in the dark, speculation was rife that the infamous cryptoqueen Ruja Ignatova had reappeared after her penthouse in London was listed for sale. However, it later turned out the listing had nothing to do with her or U.K. authorities.
Ruja is the founder of OneCoin, a digital asset project once hailed as the ultimate Bitcoin killer. Marketed through an extensive and well-run multi-level marketing scheme, OneCoin garnered millions of users globally, making Ignatova one of the most prominent figures in the digital asset world.
It all came crashing down after OneCoin was revealed to be nothing more than a high-level scam. Investors lost over $4 billion by some estimates, and Ignatova went into hiding shortly after the project blew up.
And then, just days ago, a penthouse she owns in London went up for sale for $15.5 million. The listing was described by many as the return of the ‘cryptoqueen.’
However, as the BBC later revealed, the listing was put up by law enforcement agencies in Bielefeld. Prosecutors based in the north-west German city are reportedly leading Europe-wide efforts against OneCoin and are seeking to sell the plush penthouse.
The listing has since then been taken down. Knight Frank, the listing agent for the Kensington pad, has declined to reveal whether the penthouse has been sold or whether the public attention led it to take down the listing.
Prosecutors hope that proceeds from the penthouse and other assets owned by Ignatova will one day be used to refund the millions of investors who lost their money to the scam.
“Initially, we’re trying to avoid the money going back to the people behind the scam. That’s our first idea, to take away money earned by crime,” senior prosecutor Gerald Ruebsam commented.
“It’s not clear yet whether money will go to OneCoin investors, we have to wait and see how things progress,” he added.
Global authorities are still on the hunt for the cryptoqueen, with the FBI placing her in its “Top Ten Most Wanted List” and offering $100,000 for information that leads to her arrest.
Her accomplices have been prosecuted in various countries. OneCoin co-founder Karl Sebastian Greenwood recently entered a guilty plea for running a Ponzi scheme, for which he faces 40 years behind bars.
Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, Blockstream, ShapeShift, Coinbase, Ripple,
Ethereum, FTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.
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