V7N, 06 July 2024 - The FBI's Most Wanted list is notorious for featuring dangerous criminals like brutal killers and serial offenders. However, it's not every day that a person makes it to this infamous list for fraud, especially a woman. Meet Ruja Ignatova, the so-called 'Crypto Queen', who has been evading capture for years.

Ruja Ignatova is one of only 11 women ever to be listed on the FBI's Most Wanted list in its 72-year history. Between 2014 and 2016, she allegedly defrauded investors of $4 billion through her shell company, OneCoin. This massive scam catapulted her onto the FBI's radar, but she vanished without a trace in 2017, last seen boarding a plane. Since then, she has successfully eluded capture, with the FBI and other global intelligence agencies still in pursuit.

Ignatova, born in Bulgaria and a German citizen, founded the fraudulent cryptocurrency company OneCoin in Sofia in 2014. She lured wealthy investors with her charm and promises of high returns in the burgeoning world of digital currency. Instead, she pocketed their money, amassing over $400 million in what U.S. authorities describe as one of the largest financial frauds in history.

The FBI believes that Ignatova may have altered her appearance through plastic surgery and could be hiding in Greece, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, or another Eastern European country. Despite extensive efforts, including assistance from Canadian and European intelligence services, she remains at large. The FBI suspects she travels with a personal security detail and avoids using banking channels, making her nearly impossible to trace.

In 2019, U.S. authorities charged Ignatova in absentia with money laundering, digital fraud, and financial crimes. Her capture has been prioritized, with the FBI offering a $5 million reward for information leading to her arrest. However, her whereabouts remain unknown, and her ability to evade capture continues to baffle authorities.

Several of Ignatova's associates have been apprehended and convicted. OneCoin co-founder Karl Greenwood was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2023, along with the confiscation of $30 million. Bulgarian national Irina Dilkinska and U.S. national Mark Scott received sentences of four and ten years, respectively. Despite these arrests, Ignatova, the mastermind behind the scheme, remains elusive.

The search for Ruja Ignatova continues, with the FBI and other agencies hoping to bring the 'Crypto Queen' to justice and recover the billions she swindled. For now, she remains one of the most wanted fugitives in the world, a testament to her cunning and the ongoing challenge of tracking her down.