OneCoin scammer Sebastian Greenwood pleads responsible, “Cryptoqueen” nonetheless lacking – Bare Safety

The “Lacking Cryptoqueen” saga has made long-term headlines since co-founders Ruja Ignatova and Karl Sebastian Greenwood began a cryptocurrency rip-off often called OneCoin, manner again in 2014.

Ignatova, who hails from Bulgaria, and who apparently preferred to be often called The Cryptoqueen (her cost sheet even shows that title as an alias), has been needed within the US on numerous wire fraud, cash laundering and securities fraud costs since October 2017.

In keeping with the US Division of Justice (DOJ), about two weeks after costs had been filed towards her within the US, Ignatova flew from Sofia in Bulgaria to Athens in Greece…

…and hasn’t been heard of since, thus her up to date nickname of Lacking Cryptoqueen.

In mid-2022, Ignotova was thought-about criminally important sufficient – her rip-off is alleged to have pulled in additional than $4 billion in “investments” from greater than 3,000,000 individuals world wide – that she was added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wished Fugitives record, with a $100,000 reward for her seize:

Greenwood, nevertheless, went to dwell in Thailand, the place he was arrested by the Royal Thai Police on the tropical island of Koh Samui in June 2018, extradited to the US, and remanded in custody.

He’s been incarcerated ever since, and he appears set to remain locked up for a few years to come back, having simply pleaded guilty to a few legal costs, together with wire fraud and cash laundering.

Constructing a pyramid

OneCoin gave the impression to be what’s often called a pyramid scheme, or MLM system, brief for multi-level advertising, the place the individuals who purchase in at the beginning earn fee for bringing within the subsequent wave of “traders”, who in flip earn fee from bringing within the third wave, and so forth.

Many international locations have regulatory restrictions on pyramid promoting methods, not least as a result of they give the impression of being loads higher on paper than they usually prove in actual life.

If nothing else, their enterprise mannequin is difficult to maintain, given that every new recruit has to herald N new recruits of their very own, and so forth, and so forth, like a tradition in biology class that expands to fill a petri dish at alarming velocity, solely to eat all its assets and die out simply as dramatically.

For everybody to succeed, these schemes sometimes have to develop exponentially, just like the tradition in that petri dish: if the primary particular person wants to herald ten extra individuals, and people ten want to search out ten extra, and so forth, then the “pyramid” wants 1 + 10 + 100 + 1000 = 1111 members after simply three “generations”.

As thrilling and as profitable as that sounds, after an additional three generations, you want 1,111,111 individuals on board to proceed the income mannequin that was offered to you, which is about 15{71f2671752fad638212bfca442dc8143d0bf0954ff256f4e628f4ce056e73e73} of the inhabitants of New York or London.

Three generations after that, you’d require about 15{71f2671752fad638212bfca442dc8143d0bf0954ff256f4e628f4ce056e73e73} of the world’s inhabitants to have purchased into the scheme you’re already dedicated to…

…and even when you actually may get that far, you’d fairly actually run out of individuals within the very subsequent technology, even when you signed up each new toddler inside seconds of beginning.

A pyramid with no product

However OneCoin took the pyramid promoting course of one step additional, turning it into what’s recognized within the jargon as a Ponzi scheme, after an early perpetrator of such a rip-off referred to as Charles Ponzi.

OneCoin didn’t generate big earnings for its founders by making a pyramid of “funding companions” who ended up dedicated to promoting the corporate’s merchandise right into a market that was ever extra crowded with competing sellers.

OneCoin made its billions by not really having a product in any respect.

The OneCoin cryptocurrency token that the corporate “offered” didn’t really exist, had no so-called blockchain or ledger to show its existence and exercise, and couldn’t really be traded in any respect.

Because the DOJ’s report explains:

OneCoin falsely claimed that the worth of OneCoin was based mostly on market provide and demand, when the truth is, the worth of the cryptocurrency was merely set by OneCoin itself.

[Ignatova stated in emails to Greenwood that:] “We are able to manipulate the change by simulating some volatility and intraday pricing,” [… and:] “Purpose 6: Buying and selling coin, steady change, at all times shut on a excessive value finish of day open day with excessive value, construct confidence – higher manipulation so they’re comfortable.”

Because the DOJ explains, the purported worth of a OneCoin grew steadily from €0.50 to roughly €29.95 per coin, and the purported value of OneCoins by no means decreased in worth, and but the DOJ states that “OneCoins had been solely nugatory.”

Ignatova […] wrote to Greenwood, “We aren’t mining really – however telling individuals shit,” to which Greenwood responded, “Can any member (attempting to be intelligent) discover out that we really should not investing in machines to mine however it’s merely a chunk of software program doing this for us?”

The scammers went out of their approach to appeal to traders, with the charismatic Ignatova, in her “Cryptoqueen” persona, wowing the gang and drawing in victims on the again of the thrilling tales individuals had heard about cryptocurrency usually, and Bitcoin specifically:

Greenwood and Ignatova promoted OneCoin, together with at official OneCoin occasions everywhere in the globe. One such occasion, referred to as “Coin Rush,” was held at Wembley Enviornment in London on June 11, 2016. Hundreds of OneCoin members attended Coin Rush. Through the occasion, Greenwood launched Ignatova to the gang, stating partly: “That is the creator, the mastermind, the founding father of cryptocurrency, of OneCoin … Now, this would be the greatest welcoming on stage that we’ve ever completed in historical past.” Then, to the tune of Alicia Keys’s “Lady on Fireplace,” and surrounded by precise onstage fireworks, Ignatova strode onto the Wembley Enviornment stage carrying a crimson ball robe. She proceeded to repeatedly and favorably evaluate her fraudulent cryptocurrency to Bitcoin, stating, amongst different issues, “OneCoin … is meant to be the Bitcoin killer” and “In two years, no one will discuss Bitcoin any extra.”

The ability-plays and the stage drama appear to have completed the trick, provided that Greenwood is alleged by the DOJ to earned roughly €20 million a month in his function as the highest MLM “distributor” of OneCoin.

If Greenwood had been to get the utmost penalty for every of the crimes to which he’s pleaded responsible, he’d find yourself with 20 years for every; if served consecutively, he’d subsequently get a 60-year custodial sentence.

As for the greater than 3,000,000 individuals who parted with their cash in good, if misguided religion…

…whether or not any of them will get their a reimbursement within the subsequent 60 years is unknown, however sadly appears unlikely.

What to do?

  • Beware any on-line schemes that make guarantees {that a} correctly regulated funding wouldn’t be allowed to do. Funding rules typically exist to maintain the lid on wild and unachievable claims, so be sceptical of any scheme that units out to sidestep that type of management and expects you to take a position with none regulatory safety in any respect.
  • Don’t be taken in by cryptocoin jargon and a smart-looking web site or app. Anybody can arrange a believable-looking web site or construct an app to point out upbeat however fictitious real-time “graphs” and made-up on-line “feedback” that appear to be awash with upvotes and positivity. Open supply web site and running a blog instruments make it low cost and simple to create professional-looking content material. However these instruments can’t cease a criminal filling a web site with faux information.
  • Take into account asking somebody with an IT background whom and belief for recommendation. Discover somebody who isn’t already a part of the scheme and doesn’t present any specific curiosity in it. Be cautious of recommendation or endorsement from people who find themselves (or declare to be) a part of the scheme already. They might be paid shills, or faux personas, or they might be early winners who’ve been paid out with cash ripped off from later traders, and thus co-opted into selling the rip-off themselves.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, assume that it isn’t true. That recommendation applies whether or not it’s a brand new cryptocurrency, a particular on-line supply, a brand new on-line service, a survey to win a prize, and even simply the great outdated lure of “free stuff”. Take your time to grasp what you’re signing up for.

Bear in mind: If unsure/Don’t give it out, and that positively consists of your cash.

By the best way, the DOJ asks:

If in case you have any details about Ruja Ignatova’s whereabouts, please contact your native FBI workplace or the closest American Embassy or Consulate. Ideas may be reported anonymously and may also be reported on-line at

Take care on the market!