Ruja Ignatova, also known as the “Missing Cryptoquine”, has been placed on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list. The Bulgarian woman, believed to be in her 40s, is wanted for her alleged role in running a cryptocurrency scam called OneCoin.
Federal investigators accused the fugitive of using the scheme to defraud victims of more than $4bn (£3.2bn). He has been missing since 2017, when US officials signed an arrest warrant and investigators began to close in on him.
In 2014, OneCoin, a self-described cryptocurrency, began paying commissions to buyers if they sold the currency to more people.
But FBI agents say OneCoin was worthless and was never secured by the blockchain technology used by other cryptocurrencies. According to charges brought by federal prosecutors, it was essentially a Ponzi scheme disguised as a cryptocurrency.
“She timed her scheme perfectly, capitalising on the frenzied speculation of the early days of cryptocurrency,” said Damian Williams, Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor.
The FBI adds fugitives to its most-wanted list when it thinks the general public may be able to help track them down.
A bureau notice published Thursday offered a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of Ms Ignatova. She was charged in 2019 with eight counts, including wire fraud and securities fraud.
She is the only woman on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.