A ‘Crypto queen’ fugitive who stole £3.23 billion in a Ponzi scheme and then vanished, could now have resurfaced.
Bulgarian-born Ruja Ignatova and business partner Sebastian Greenwood conned people by claiming their crypto token, OneCoin.
They started their scam in 2014 – referring to investors as ‘idiots’ and ‘crazy’. By October 2017 they disappeared, leaving Ignatova on the FBI’s most-wanted list.
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The 42-year-old German citizen is the only woman in the top ten list and one of only 11 women to ever make the list.
Police believe Ignatova would have had extensive plastic surgery to alter her appearance in hope that she won’t be recognised.
But according to News.com.au, she may have resurfaced earlier this month to claim one of her London properties.
The Kensington penthouse went up for sale, with an asking price of £12.5 million. It was later reduced to £11 million.
The publication claims that the Crypto Queen purchased the property under a company name, but a new rule means that the beneficiary must also be named in full.
This pushed Ignatova to make a formal claim on the property as the “beneficial owner” according to a filing with the UK’s financial regulator.
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Prestige property seller Knight Frank advertised the property but swiftly took the listing down after it emerged that Ms Ignatova had links to it.
Investigative reporter Jamie Bartlett, host of The Missing Cryptoqueen podcast, in conjunction with the BBC, initially flagged a tenuous link between the fraudster and the penthouse.
“The world’s most wanted woman is now officially listed as the ultimate beneficial owner of a London penthouse,” he 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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“If nothing else it should make it easier for the authorities to freeze that asset – and maybe even start getting money back to victims.”
The US Department of Prosecutions has charged Ms Ignatova with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud.
The FBI is offering a $US100,000 reward for intel that ultimately leads to her arrest.
OneCoin is no longer operational, with the token unusable and the website inactive.
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