OneCoin: A deep dive into the story of crypto’s most notorious Ponzi scheme

The infamous OneCoin was a Ponzi scam based on cryptocurrency. This Ponzi scheme was created by Bulgarian citizen Ruja Ignatova, the self-proclaimed “CryptoQueen” with the companies OneCoin Ltd. and OneLife Network Ltd. Ignatova vanished in 2017 after having failed to answer to a case involving the purported $4 billion fraudulent cryptocurrency project.

Ruja Ignatova mentioned in a talk she had with a cheering crowd that OneCoin is on its way to becoming the biggest cryptocurrency in the world whilst everyone will be able to make payments everywhere. The first and most well-known cryptocurrency still remains to be Bitcoin with its increased value from only a few cents to hundreds of dollars each coin. This caused an uproar for a lot of investors as the idea of cryptocurrency was just beginning to enter the mainstream. But, Ignatova once mentioned that in two years’ time, no one will speak about Bitcoin anymore which encouraged even more investors to get themselves involved in this new opportunity to grow their finances.

OneCoin is a Bulgarian-based firm that was founded in 2014. The company followed the conventional framework of a multi-level marketing plan, but with a twist. No items or memberships were offered but instead, their marketers claimed it to be the future of Bitcoin. Over the years, OneCoin grew more popular as they sold membership packaged that allegedly has OneCoin tokens along with the ability to extract even more. Investors of OneCoin can convert it to other currencies was through the OneCoin Exchange Xcoinx. It is an internal market for members to have access to the exchange only if they acquire more than just the beginner package. With OneCoin known for its aggressive and exaggerated marketing techniques, skillful founder and other marketers who spoke to naïve victims about crypto money, allowed the maneuver of the Ponzi scheme to keep money flowing for extended periods of time while satisfying the investors to some extent. However, contradictions and hollow promises were piling up despite their successful facade as trouble was all ready to burst from within. The promised event of an exchange where OneCoin can finally be turned to cash kept being delayed. But, there was still hope for the investors since a massive gathering was set to resolve the delay in October 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal of European OneCoin promoters. But, unfortunately for the investors, Ruja Ignatova didn’t show up.

The self-proclaimed CryptoQueen, Ruja Ignatova told the public she made a cryptocurrency that would be a rival of Bitcoin as she persuaded thousands of people to invest in her OneCoin. Then, she vanished and evaded officials and the public ever since. Ignatova’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, co-founder of OneCoin later agreed to testify against his sister. But, despite his testimonies against Ignatova, court papers show that the same case will be pursued against him. Both siblings are still defendants in a separate court case launched by the US Department of Justice, and they may face up to 90 years in jail if found guilty.

Ruja Ignatova figured there would be enough individuals who were desperate, greedy, or confused enough to gamble on OneCoin. She was sneaky with her conflicting materials available for people to see that it became easy for her to be deceptive. She noticed that society and those people against OneCoin would be perplexed about what truly goes inside the company. But, by the time everyone caught on to what was really going on, she was already gone along with all the investor’s money.

Michael Hughes