What do you do when front-page headlines call your company “one of the largest scams in history”? When it comes to Ruja Ignatova, you disappear and are never seen or heard from again. Ruja, once known as the “Cryptoqueen,” may be hiding out with a $7.5 billion Bitcoin fortune that was stolen…
The Rise of the Cryptoqueen
Bitcoin experienced its first significant price increase and truly hit the mainstream in 2013. A single Bitcoin was worth $120 in October 2013. Two months later, Bitcoin reached its first $1,000 mark.
Due to the quick increase, several people became billionaires almost immediately. Additionally, it gave a serious case of FOMO to a huge number of people. People are particularly vulnerable when they have a burning desire to get wealthy and believe they have barely lost their chance.
Ruja Ignatova was 36 years old at the time. Fraudster from Bulgaria who had already received a conviction decided to use the opportunity and introduce her own money. She gave it the name Onecoin.
Ruja was a charismatic performer. She traveled a lot for speaking engagements, where she would entice the audience with the chance of a lifetime to lead the next revolution. Huge numbers of people bought in.
How much money investors invested in Onecoin is not entirely known. Some estimates report the amount invested to be anywhere from $5 to 20 billion between 2014 and 2017.
Jen McAdam, a woman who was undoubtedly not wealthy, put $10,000 in. Jen persuaded relatives and friends to contribute an additional $250,000. More on Jen in a minute, but she’s just one example of thousands of people who bought into Ruja’s vision, sometimes put up their entire life savings, and watched as it grew before their eyes. They would find additional money to invest since the thrill of becoming wealthy is addictive. For these early investors, everything appeared promising.
There was only one issue: Onecoin lacked a blockchain altogether.
Onecoin’s Fatal Flaw
You’re in the same boat as the majority of cryptocurrency investors if you don’t know what a blockchain is. To keep it super simple, by definition a cryptocurrency cannot actually exist without one.
Interested, Bjorn asked what his responsibilities would be and the recruiter replied: “Well, first of all, they need a blockchain. Currently, there is no blockchain.”
“I thought this was a cryptocurrency,” Bjorn asked. “Who is the business?”
Yikes. Onecoin had already been operational for two years and accepted billions in investments at this point. It would be the same of you handing me money for a Ferrari but leaving the engine out. No wait, this would be like you giving me money for a Ferrari and you don’t get a Ferrari. Embrace this IOU.
Bjorn declined the position. To cut a long tale short, he met Jen McAdam, who had been acting strangely in her online Onecoin communities. Bjorn and Jen effectively transformed into whistleblowers, slowly revealing the truth that all the value was largely in the persuasion of Ruja Ignatova, who was still traversing the world on yachts and private planes to disseminate her vision.
When Jen and Bjorn would point out things that, in retrospect, appeared obvious, investors would become enraged at first. The last thing you want to hear when you’ve invested money in anything is that it’s a lousy investment, much less that it’s a purported scam. But as more and more investors started to take the bitter pill, Onecoin started to fall apart.
It should be noted that throughout all of this, Onecoin could not be exchanged for cash. Therefore, even if you invested $5,000 and saw it go to $500,000 as many individuals did, you still wouldn’t be able to withdraw your funds. The exchange was repeatedly delayed for numerous fictitious reasons, but the true one was that it wasn’t actually cryptocurrency.
Ruja On The Run
Let’s jump ahead to October 2017. After learning that Onecoin was in danger, Ruja planned to allay everyone’s worries with a sizable Onecoin event in Lisbon, Portugal. She pledged to provide details and correct the record.
She actually decided to do something else. She completely failed to appear.
Since then, she has not been seen.
She is incredibly wealthy, if she is still alive and has a new identity. Currently, 220,000 Bitcoin are reportedly owned by Ruja. These coins are worth around $41,240 at the current price of Bitcoin.
And keep in mind that a few months ago, those same 220,000 Bitcoin were at one point worth $15 BILLION! Ruja would have been among the top 140 wealthiest persons in the world as a result.
Ruja’s Alleged Bitcoin Fortune
Onecoin victims claim in court records submitted this year that Ruja was romantically involved with Sheik Saoud, the son of one of Dubai’s wealthiest individuals. She allegedly succeeded in obtaining diplomatic credentials from the United Arab Emirates, enabling her to travel freely. Onecoin was allegedly being used by Ruja to transfer billions to banks and real properties in Dubai.
According to the allegations, she directed billions of dollars into Dubai’s banking and real estate sectors.
Regardless of which side of the cryptocurrency aisle you sit on, it’s still evolving and not without troubles. But what – and who – isn’t, really?
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