Ruja Plamenova Ignatova: Where is the Cryptoqueen Now?

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Investigation Discovery’s ‘In Pursuit With John Walsh: Crypto Queenpin’ primarily delves deep into the search for an accused financial fraudster named Ruja Plamenova Ignatova. In 2014, she founded OneCoin with the promise of providing substantial amounts of profit to the investors but failed to do so as it was a Ponzi scheme. Now, with Ruja on the most-wanted list of the FBI, law enforcement of various countries band together to find out where she has been hiding ever since her disappearance in 2017. The episode also features interviews with officials related to the chase, granting us more insightful details about her and the case.

Ruja Plamenova Ignatova is the Founder of OneCoin

Ruja Plamenova Ignatova was born on May 30, 1980, in the Bulgarian city of Ruse to Plamen Ignatov. Growing up, she was under the umbrella of love and care of her parents and brother, Konstantin Ignatov. After spending half of her childhood in Bulgaria, she and her family relocated to Germany when she was ten years old. The rest of her childhood was spent in Schramberg, which is situated in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. It is reported that she graduated from the University of Oxford in England, after which she studied PhD in private international law at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

After completing her studies, she was reportedly employed at McKinsey & Company. In 2012, her father’s acquisition of a company went bankrupt under suspicious circumstances, and since Ruja was connected to it, she was also convicted of fraud and given a suspended sentence of 14 months in prison. A year later, in 2013, she got involved with a multi-level marketing scam known as BigCoin, only to establish a pyramid scheme of her own called OneCoin in 2014. The Bulgarian-German woman’s company offered eponymous cryptocurrency, which was claimed to be the “Bitcoin Killer.”

Using her expertise in the field, she devised a multi-level marketing strategy and allegedly convinced millions of people worldwide that investing in OneCoin would be profitable. However, it supposedly turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. Meanwhile, on the personal front, she tied the knot with the German lawyer Björn Strehl and welcomed a daughter into the world in 2016. Moreover, she reportedly owned numerous properties in Dubai. As the truth about her alleged scam company came to the surface, the investigators from the US and Germany closed in on Ruja, who was told about the extensive ongoing investigation. So, on October 25, 2017, she reportedly took a flight from Sofia to Athens before they could capture her.

Having avoided multiple law enforcement agencies for a couple of years, Ruja Plamenova Ignatova was convicted in absentia of wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering in 2019. As per reports, the Bulgarian-German entrepreneur was murdered in 2018 by the one providing her shelter, “Taki” Hristoforos Nikos Amanatidis, who was involved with OneCoint and was allegedly the godfather to her daughter. In order to eliminate all his ties to OneCoint, Taki supposedly put out a hit on Ruja, who was killed aboard a yacht in the Ionian Sea. Her body was reportedly dismembered and dumped off into the open waters.

Following Accusations of Fraud, Ruja Plamenova Ignatova Remains on the Run Since 2017

Ever since 2017, Ruja Plamenova Ignatova has been on the run after she was accused of fraud, landing her on the FBI’s top ten most-wanted list. In May 2022, the investigators put up a $250,000 reward for any kind of information that could lead them to the arrest of the alleged fraudster. As the police suggested, it is possible that she has had plastic surgery done to change her appearance and stay out of reach of the authorities. In January 2023, the detectives received a significant update about Ruja, who reportedly claimed one of the properties in England. A penthouse apartment in London’s Kensington suburb was purchased at £11 million ($13.6 million), making Ruja the ultimate beneficial owner of the penthouse.

This transaction proved that the female entrepreneur was still alive and well. Moreover, the investigators were in possession of a few vital documents that consisted of several leads about her recent whereabouts. In their desperate search for the runaway woman, they increased the reward money to $100,000 and asked for the public’s help in locating and arresting her. As per the FBI, Ruja traveled to multiple locations around the world using a German passport, including Germany, the UAE, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Bulgaria. Currently, the authorities are still looking to learn the whereabouts of the crypto queenpin while she remains on the run.

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