The crypto industry is sadly known for its many scams, the long history of which stretches back over a decade to the first blockchain projects. And now, another project has officially joined the hall of fame composed of degenerates and unscrupulous characters. Meet the OneCoin project – a scam as classic as they come.
It all started in 2014 when two characters – Ruja Ignatova and Sebastian Greenwood founded the project in Bulgaria and proclaimed it as a blockchain that would outstrip Bitcoin as a breakthrough cryptocurrency. Naturally, the project boasted safe transactions, ease of use, low commissions, etc. – the classical set of characteristics inherent to an attractive and promising application.
Unfortunately, OneCoin was little more than yet another classical phenomenon in the cryptocurrency industry – an MLM scheme that attracted thousands of trusting users via educational materials that were outright plagiarized from open sources. The blockchain backing was little more than a ruse to feed on the hype and lure in unsuspecting cryptocurrency users seeking to invest in an advertised project for the promise of returns.
Though it had become clear by 2015 that the project was little more than a blatant Ponzi scheme, users continued to flock to OneCoin, drawn by the stellar marketing efforts of its CEO Ruja Ignatova. She had by then positioned herself in the market as a genius business lady with high credentials, a Phd, and a reputation to match. Her appearance at Wembley Stadium before an audience of over 90,000 people in the middle of 2016 was her highest point, as it was the peak of OneCoin’s popularity.
By the end of 2016, OneCoin had become the second most capitalized cryptocurrency – a point that forced multiple banks to issue precautions about investments in it. Naturally, the founders of the scam led opulent lifestyles, splurging the money of their trusting community on luxury cars, parties, apartments and arts.
But all good things eventually come to an end, as by 2017, the Geman police issued an arrest warrant for Ruja Ignatova. Her last appearance was in the fall of 2017, as her trail went cold on a flight to Greece after she failed to appear before her community in Lisbon. The following year, the authorities raided the project’s headquarters in Sofia and allowed the authorities of Thailand to apprehend Sebastian Greenwood later the same year.
Ruja Ignatova’s whereabouts remain unknown even as her own brother, Konstantin Ignatov, was arrested in 2019 as the new CEO of the scam project and claimed he had not heard from his sister ever since her disappearance. He is currently in the United States, facing several charges and awaiting sentencing. The police continued their search for Ruja Ignatova, placing her on the world’s ten most wanted list by the summer of 2022. However, their efforts have remained futile.
All of the suspects of the OneCoin project are currently facing multiple charges in Germany and other countries. Among the charges are money laundering using the OneCoin cryptocurrency, as well a slew of other offenses that range from fraud and financing of terrorist activities to financial pyramids and banal theft.
Experts continue to speculate on the total amount of damages the OneCoin project inflicted on its participants and other parties related to its activities. The estimates range wildly from $4 to $15 billion, marking OneCoin as one of the most steeped in criminality and enigmatic projects in cryptocurrency market history.