Onecoin was popular in its prime during 2014, right before the world discovered the Ponzi scheme that the token had been hiding within their platform. Ruja Ignatova originally headed up this venture, which collaborates with Onelife to ultimately steal billions of dollars from their three billion investors. When it was at its greatest success, the company even claimed to be a “Bitcoin killer,” but the pyramid scheme is long gone. However, the crimes that many of its founders have hidden of fraud and money laundering remain are finally being charged.
This year, there are many affiliates of Onecoin that are being charged with crimes in multiple states to right the wrongs of this scam. A few days ago, on February 17th, attorney Mark Scott was arrested for allegedly laundering $400 million that was tied in with the Onelife brand and operations. According to the charges, the authorities believe that he moved the money through hedge funds in the Cayman Islands, subsequently sending it to elite Onecoin members. A federal grand jury already indicted Scott in August last year on money laundering charges from his participation with Onecoin, but a warrant was issued the same day to arrest him.
The leader of Onecoin, Ignatova, has been missing for at least a year, potentially making off with billions in January 2017. The exchange shut down right after the money went missing, and investigative journalists discovered that Ignatova went into hiding right after purchasing a $15 million yacht and a $2.5 million mansion in Sozopol.
Somehow, even though the fact that Ignatova purchased these items in Sozopol, the local Bulgarian law enforcement has not even investigated her. However, Sofia police chose to raid Onecoin offices in January 2018 to take down the “centralized cryptocurrency pyramid scheme.” This firm, and any firms related to it were searched with a warrant, ultimately leading to the seizure of evidence.
Though there are many leaders of Onecoin in hiding, and there is no activity on the platform, general prosecutor Gerald Rabsam of Bielefeld, Germany believes that the complete takedown of the former platform is years away. Law enforcement in Britain, Ireland, Ukraine, the Baltic States, Italy, U.S., Canada, and Germany, along with others, are all investigating the brand.
“[Our] investigation is being conducted against eight suspects, mainly employees of one of the companies of the Onecoin group registered in Germany. We have no information on where Ruja Ignatova is currently at the moment.”
Despite raiding the Sofia offices of Onecoin, the prosecutors in Bulgaria admit that Onecoin operation was not shut down at the time. The headquarters is located in the United Arab Amirates and a few local individuals.
Many people believe that Onecoin was never considered a real cryptocurrency because it does not secure itself with the blockchain. However, there has been more of a focus on deeming this project a pyramid scheme, rather than defining it as a cryptocurrency. With millions of victims to the massive theft, there are probably many years ahead before the matter is resolved.
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