Japanese Victims Tell of “Queen of Virtual Currency”‘s Malicious M.O.
In June of this year, the FBI issued a "Most Wanted" list for Ruja Ignatova, the "Queen of Virtual Currency. The queen, who has defrauded the world of 480 billion yen, has also reached Japan.
The moment Dr. Ignatova’s video message was played in the hall, the audience erupted in cheers and applause, and some were even moved to tears. Stunned by the sheer enthusiasm, people around me said, ‘She’s a great person. Why aren’t you applauding? I remember being yelled at. I got the impression that it was more like a cult than an investment seminar. It was just an unusual atmosphere.
Aiko, a housewife in her 40s living in Okinawa who attended a rally for the virtual currency “One-Coin,” recalls how she felt at the time.
In June of this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that Ruja Ignatova had been added to its “Most Wanted” list. Only 10 people, including cartel bosses and violent murderers, are on the “most wanted” list. Ignatova, known as the “Queen of Cryptocurrency,” has been using virtual currency as a tool to run a malicious pyramid scheme in various parts of the world. She has amassed such an enormous amount of money that the FBI called it “the biggest virtual currency scam in history.
Ignatova, who hails from Bulgaria, began recruiting investors around the world around 2002 using a virtual currency he created called “OneCoin,” which is the second largest coin in the world after Bitcoin. OneCoin” was touted as a virtual currency second only to Bitcoin, but when the lid was opened, there was no evidence of its operation. In reality, it was just a pyramid scheme.
What makes it “the largest ever” is its scale. The FBI has reported that up to $100,000 ($200,000) has been invested in OneCoin, and the total amount of damage is estimated to be more than 480 billion yen. The FBI has put a bounty of up to $100,000 on Ignatova’s whereabouts. (New York Bureau, National Newspaper)
Ignatova is believed to have disappeared after boarding a flight from Bulgaria to Greece in October 2005 after realizing that an investigation had begun. The suspect is said to have taken at least $500 million in cash with her when she fled.
Queen Ignatova has been a world-wide fraudster. In fact, she has also infiltrated Japan. The woman I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Ms. Ako, is one of the people who invested in “One Coin”.
Ms. Ako testified to the cleverness of the scheme.
It was around 2002 that I learned of the existence of “One-Coin. I was invited by a friend in my hometown of Okinawa to a garden party at a hotel because it was free. The hotel’s garden was lined with a gorgeous buffet, including high-end meat for the barbecue.
Until the day of the party, Ako had not heard anything about the “one-coin” offer, but she sensed something was wrong right from the start of the party.
She had never heard of the “one-coin” program until the day of the party, but she sensed something was wrong right from the start. Then, after a while after the party started, suddenly the ‘awards ceremony’ started. Mr. XXX has achieved the goal! and those who were named received brand-name gifts such as Louis Vuitton. I didn’t understand what it meant, and I just watched in amazement.
Despite her discomfort, Ako genuinely enjoyed the party that day and went home. However, within a week, she was being fiercely solicited.
An acquaintance asked me if I would like to come to a seminar,” she said, “and feeling guilty that I had helped her at the party, I couldn’t refuse. That was the ‘Wine Coin’ seminar. The person in charge explained to me that I would receive money just for joining the program and that I would be able to build an asset of 10 billion in the future, that One Coin was created by a well-known person named Dr. Ignatova, and that it was sponsored by Formula One, so there was nothing suspicious about it. I honestly had no idea what was going on, as I did not even know how virtual currency works. They even said, ‘If you buy this, you won’t have to work for the rest of your life,’ and the solicitation was so intense that I didn’t even have time to think about it.
This magazine also obtained explanatory materials on “One Coin,” which were distributed to investors. The material included information on alchemy, which is hard to believe, such as the fact that purchasing a coin would increase one’s assets by five times the following year and by 100 times in two years. The article introduced Ignatova as a “Bulgarian-born,” “graduate of Oxford University with a doctorate in law,” and “affiliated with McKinsey,” among other exaggerated details.
Ms. A continued.
In the explanation, he said, “It is not clear who created bitcoin, but one-coin was created by Dr. Ignatova. One coin is not suspicious because it is clear who created it.
After the seminar, the person in charge summoned him to a family restaurant, where he spent days one-on-one with the person in charge incessantly recommending the purchase of “One-Coin.
The person in charge told me, ‘There are two ways to make a profit from One-Coin: One is to introduce people to other people, and if you can’t do that, you have to pay the big bucks yourself. If you can’t do that, you have to pay a lot of money and buy a lot of coins yourself,’ and I chose the latter. I didn’t want to forcefully solicit anyone, so I went to ……. In hindsight, I regret that I should have clearly refused.
Ms. A paid 5.6 million yen and purchased “One Coin” as she was told by the sales representative. She became one of the investors.
After a while, I asked the person in charge to check the “One-Coin” website and was told that my coin, which I bought for 5.6 million yen, had turned into 1.2 billion yen. I was skeptical, however, as he explained that it is currently difficult to convert “One-Coin” into yen. What was available instead was “One-Coin’s” own e-commerce mall. There were people around me who told me that they had bought a house or a luxury car through the e-commerce mall, but when I actually looked at the site, I saw only toothbrushes and jewel-like necklaces. But when I actually looked at the site, there were only toothbrushes and jewelry-like necklaces, and frankly, nothing more than junk. When I asked the person in charge when I would be able to redeem the car, he replied, “It’s taking a long time. It’s going to take a while.
Her life continued, with the numbers on the screen swelling, but no real gain. It was around 1919 that something unusual happened to Ms. Ako, who was having mixed feelings.
Suddenly, I couldn’t see my “One-Coin” page anymore,” she said. Then I heard the news that Dr. Ignatova was wanted by the FBI for fraud. When I asked the person in charge, ‘What’s going on? I don’t know yet. One Coin” does not have an official branch in Japan, and there is not even a point of contact at …… to inquire about it. I am just at a loss as to what to do.
Ako is not the only Japanese victim of “One-Coin”; we were also able to interview a man who said he invested 300,000 yen in the program.
I was introduced to One-Coin by an acquaintance in 2006,” he said. At the time, a man named M, who claimed to be a businessman, was an influencer in Japan, traveling around the country spreading the word about One-Coin. What was suspicious was his reaction when he wanted to exchange the money for cash. When I told the person in charge that I wanted to convert the coins into yen, he simply said, “It’s better not to convert them now because you can make more money if you keep them. In any case, he kept on refusing to exchange the coins for cash. After learning that Dr. Ignatova was wanted, I inquired with the person in charge about ‘tracking the whereabouts of my funds with a blockchain,’ but I was even more surprised when he told me, ‘There is no blockchain. Without a blockchain, it is difficult to prove that you deposited the money, and it is also difficult to sue for damages. The reality is that I have no choice but to cry myself to sleep.
Ms. A also expressed her frustration.
I really feel like I’ve been ‘screwed. What is frightening is that even now, some investors are saying, “Dr. Ignatova was wanted because of a ploy to destroy the one-coin. That’s how great a currency the one-coin is. He’ll be back sooner or later. It’s not even a movie. …… That’s how close to brainwashing they were trying to blindly convince investors.”
In addition to having a huge amount of cash, the suspect Ignatova has collaborators all over the world. Can the FBI track down the missing “queen”?