Is Cryptoqueen Ruja Ignatova Alive? US Govt Raises Reward Offer to $5M

The United States government has increased the reward offered for information on OneCoin co-founder Ruja Ignatova’s whereabouts to $5 million.

According to an official release from the U.S. Department of State spokesperson in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, anyone who brings information leading to the arrest or conviction of Ignatova, popularly known as Cryptoqueen, would be rewarded with $5 million.

This new reward represents a significant increase from the previous offer of $250,000 announced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and raises speculations about the authenticity of rumors of Cryptoqueen being murdered in 2018.

U.S. Places $5M Reward on Cryptoqueen

Cryptoqueen is wanted in the United States for orchestrating one of the largest transnational fraud schemes in history. While some of her co-conspirators have been apprehended and sentenced according to their crimes, she has been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List since 2022.

The 44-year-old Bulgarian-born German citizen co-founded OneCoin in 2014 and promoted the project as a crypto investment through false statements and representations. As of 2017, Cryptoqueen had used the Ponzi scheme to defraud investors of more than $4 billion.

When investigators came for her in late 2017, Ignatova fled Bulgaria to Greece to evade arrest and has remained a fugitive since then. U.S. and German authorities have charged the OneCoin creator with fraud and money laundering allegations. Bulgarian authorities also intend to indict Ignatova for her crimes soon, kickstarting the process of confiscating her illegally acquired property.

Dead or Alive?

As the hunt for Cryptoqueen goes on, there are rumors that she may have altered her physical appearance through cosmetic surgery. She is also believed to be moving with armed security guards and associates. The FBI thinks she could be using a German passport to visit countries like the United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Eastern Europe.

Last year, rumors emerged that Cryptoqueen had been murdered by Bulgarian drug lord Hristoforos Amanatidis, popularly known as Taki, who was also in charge of her security. Sources claimed Taki ordered a hitman to dismember Ignatova and dump her remains in the Ionian sea – an attempt to rid himself of ties to the OneCoin fraud.

However, the BBC team behind The Missing Cryptoqueen podcast has received tip-offs about Cryptoqueen’s whereabouts since 2018, and after a police operation to apprehend her in Greece failed in 2022, it could be that rumors of her death are a ploy to deceive national authorities.

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