Ready to get more heebie-jeebies? Changelly continues to share tales from the crypt(o) with you. Read on to know the creepy story of OneCoin and the scam queen Ruja Ignatova. We’ve also prepared a final third emoji riddle – the last key to get the reward. The first five winners will share a $100 reward. Take a deep breath and get into a mysterious case of a woman who could treat people gently before tricking them brutally.
Before the crypto space laughed at the “Bitcooonect!” meme, there was Onecoin. Being one of the most well-known frauds of the crypto industry, Onecoin and its leader Dr. Ruja Ignatova could attract around $15 billion and vanish as flawlessly as appeared. How did Ignatova manage to trick people so smoothly? What did actually happen to OnceCoin founders? And how did Ruja Ignatova hide so well that the FBI, Interpol, and other advanced governmental structures couldn’t find her?
OneCoin: the Beginning
The story of OneCoin started at the dawn of the crypto industry in 2014. Back then, the major cryptocurrency bitcoin (BTC) could hardly gain a value of $900 but already showed the greatest potential behind its technology. This is the moment when Dr. Ruja Ignatova and her OneCoin project come into play.
Let’s face the fact that in 2014 people didn’t know much about cryptocurrency and blockchain. Therefore, anyone with a decent financial background, the latest knowledge about the crypto industry, and limitless charisma could start a super-successful, next-generation project. Ruja suited perfectly. She introduced OneCoin – bitcoin-killer, the first transparent and centralized (!) cryptocurrency, a unified digital asset that would replace fiat money.
The strategy was plain and simple: the early adopters of OneCoin would increase their initial investment multiple times. Having an example of the early BTC holders, thousands of people decided to grab a chance to earn “easy money” and enter the crypto history as OneCoin’s evangelists.
At its core, OneCoin had a range of products – packages of educational trading materials OneAcademy, OneTablet, and OneCoin Cloud. The principle behind the OneCoin distribution is as old as time or, in other words – multi-level marketing (MLM).
MLM is a controversial yet legalized marketing strategy. Such global companies as Avon, Amway, Herbalife are well-known examples of legal MLM activity. The difference between MLM and Ponzi Scheme is very subtle. Unlike multi-level marketing, Ponzi Scheme offers to promote and spread a product that can hardly be called real. Like OneCoin’s “educational trading materials.”
What is more, every OneCoin package holder was claimed to be a miner. The minimum Onecoin investment was 140 pounds, the maximum was 118,000 GBP. The prospect of being rich within several months made people attract their families, co-workers, students, and even members of churches.
There is an infamous youtube video where bishop Fred Ntabazi from Uganda shouts: One Life – OneCoin!
Rise of the Cryptoqueen
But let’s get back to our dark queen. Ruja Ignatova was born in Bulgaria but emigrated to Germany with the family when she was ten years old. According to different sources, Ignatova has a PhD in European private law, which she got at the University of Konstanz (Germany). This fact allowed her to preface her name with the word “doctor,” which definitely increased trust regarding her personality. Multiple OneCoin webinars later claimed Ruja to be an Oxford undergraduate and having decent working experience in the global management consulting agency, McKinsey.
In addition to her extraordinary looks, smartness, and bright personality, Ruja Ignatova, like most leaders, knew exactly what to do with the audience and how to make it believe her. Her super-expensive dresses, red lips, and rigid confidence could attract up to $15 billion. After that, there were endless parties on Ingantova’s boat “Davina,” new mansions, and more luxurious life attributes. All these obviously belonged to Ruja Ignatova, while thousands of members of OneCoin were left with promises of the greatest profit and an upcoming withdrawal feature.
In the first six months of 2016, OneCoin attracted 30 million euros. In July 2016, Ruja Ignatova gathered OneCoin’s believers at Wembley Stadium. After Ignatova’s passionate speech, the number of OneCoiners increased drastically.
In order to involve more people and provide trust in the product, OneCoin’s followers showed others the cover of Forbes magazine with Ruja Ignatova on it. In fact, this was just an advertisement in the Bulgarian Forbes magazine but it was quite impressive and more and more people were hooked.
However, some of them started to suspect that something was rotten in the state of OneCoin and its cryptoqueen, Dr. Ignatova.
OneCoin – One Fall
At the end of the day, OneCoin’s activity started to remind the cult. If users asked questions about their investments or the way OneCoin worked, they got answers filled with weird arguments: “Don’t believe Google!” or “Bitcoin holders are haters! Don’t believe them!”
The most well-known member of the infamous scam project is Jen McAdam, an early believer who invested (read: lost) £9,000. A wake-up call was made by the crypto enthusiast Timothy Curry. Curry inspected OneCoin carefully and tried to connect with people involved in the cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme to open their eyes to the scam project.
Jen McAdam did not believe him at first. But his words made her consider OneCoin from a different angle. Curry provided materials on how blockchain and cryptocurrency really worked. When McAdam found out that there was no blockchain technology behind OneCoin cryptocurrency, she was terrified. She asked about the way OneCoin ACTUALLY worked in the OneCoin group and got the following response.
“OK Jen… they don’t want to disclose that kind of information, just in case something goes wrong where the blockchain is being held. And plus, as an application, it doesn’t need a server behind it. So it’s our blockchain technology, a SQL server with a database.”
By the way, OneCoin’s story inspired Hollywood to make a movie about the greatest crypto scam. Kate Winslet is going to play Jen McAdam. There is no information about who will play Ruja Ignatova. The working name of the movie is Fake!
McAdam was one of the few people to see the truth behind OneCoin. Meanwhile, Ignatova kept on traveling around the world, promoting her billion-dollar-scam.
In October 2017, Ruja did not appear at the conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Since then, nobody has seen her again. According to FBI records that were later presented in court, Dr. Ruja Ignatova bought a flight ticket from Sofia to Athens. After that, her trail goes cold.
What Happened Next
Since 2015, authorities have warned users to act carefully and evaluate all the risks before investing in OneCoin. In 2016, Daily Mirror published an article claiming OneCoin to be a scam, cult, and “virtually worthless.” A range of countries like Bulgaria, Finland, Norway, Latvia, and many others warned people about the risks involved in OneCoin.
In April 2017, Indian police arrested 18 people in Navi Mumbai that organized an OneCoin recruitment event. These were remarkable arrests as all this happened before Ruja’s escape.
After that, multiple accusations took place. Scammed users were afraid and terrified, just like Jen McAdam. Many of them invested in OneCoin all their money and lost it at once. OneCoin’s Facebook groups that previously promoted “bitcoin-killer cryptocurrency” pivoted to OneCoin’s victims’ support groups.
The FBI tried to find Ignatova but instead found her brother – Konstantin Ignatov. On March 6, 2019, Konstantin Ignatov, a co-founder of OneCoin, was arrested at the airport of Los Angeles, where he was waiting for his flight to Bulgaria. In November 2019, Ignatov was pleaded guilty to multiple charges: money laundering, fraud, etc. Obviously, he accused his sister, Dr. Ruja Ignatova, of being the mastermind behind the scenes, but nobody could find her. Ignatov claimed he did not have any contacts with Ruja after her disappearance.
In June 2020, two former OneCoin promoters were found dead in Mexico. The bodies of Chilean Oscar Brito and Ignacio Ibarra from Argentina were found in suitcases by local police. According to the report, the cause of death was suffocation.
Such stories give us goosebumps and teach people not to play with fire, especially when big money is at stake.
Ruja Ignatova: End of Story
There are multiple theories about Ruja’s current location. Some say she did plastic surgery, and nobody knows how she looks right now. Others claim Dr. Ruja Ignatova has Russian and Ukrainian passports that allow her to travel to different countries. Some even believe that she is probably dead right now.
When big money is involved, there is also a strong possibility of having mighty friends. Perhaps, Ruja asked help from her powerful friends, perhaps not.
The BBC investigation offers the idea that Ruja is in Frankfurt. As we mentioned above, she spent her early years in Germany. Besides, her ex-husband and their baby live in Frankfurt. However, if she changed her appearance, there is a little chance she can be recognized.
Let’s admit the fact that Ruja is a brilliant mastermind that could (as of today) escape official punishment from one of the biggest frauds of the industry.
Nevertheless, there are thousands of people who lost money on the OneCoin scheme. This creepy story is remarkable and once again shows us the necessity of doing your own research before investing in any campaigns. Trade and invest safely. Happy Halloween!
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