Bitcoin killer OneCoin, search for The Missing Cryptoqueen is coming to an end

Bitcoin killer OneCoin, search for The Missing Cryptoqueen is coming to an end

This week the last episode of Jamie Bartlett’s fantastic podcast series The Missing Cryptoqueen was released. In the podcast, Bartlett and his team try to track down the missing Ruja Ignatova. She is the mastermind behind the pyramid scheme of cryptocurrency scam OneCoin.

Biggest scam ever?

The US government estimated the value of the OneCoin scam to be $ 4 billion, but Bartlett has discovered documents that show that OneCoin has won much more. That 4 billion dollars seems to be per continent. The latest calculations show that OneCoin has earned more than the $ 19.4 billion lost by victims of Bernie Madoff. If this is correct, then OneCoin is the largest financial scam ever.

In March, a court in New York sued Mark Scott, Konstantin Ignatov (brother of) and Ruja Ignatova for fraud and money laundering. The court blames the trio for their roles in what they call an international pyramid scheme. Only Ruja is still free. Below you can see her in action during a OneCoin meeting at the Wembley stadium.

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The perfect scam

Jamie Bartlett wrote The Missing Cryptoqueen and Georgia Catt was responsible for the production. The latter remembers the first time she heard the name OneCoin. A friend of hers had just moved all-in with an investment of 70,000 euros. “They were absolutely invested and said it would be the next big hype,” she recalls.

For Catt, the promise of a huge return on something almost nobody had heard of seemed too good to be true. She started researching OneCoin and ended up uncovering what she calls the perfect scam: a scam of billions of dollars that combined a fake currency with a cult-like recruitment program. Or a pyramid scheme.

Artwork of podcast The Missing Cryptoqueen

Podcast is a search for Ignatova

Above all, she was surprised how little was reported about it. “It was a hyperversion of so many things currently happening in the world: the hype about technology, FOMO, how easy it is to build credibility, distrust of the established order and the regular media.” Catt decided to make a podcast.

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The thread running through the podcast is Bartlett’s search for the Bulgarian Ruja Ignatova, who seems to be fleeing. The podcast skilfully weaves the exciting story of Ignatova, a glamorous Oxford-educated entrepreneur who drew a large audience with her OneCoin lectures, with the rise of OneCoin. The search in the podcast takes them to a beauty contest in Romania, run by OneCoin and a city in southern Germany, where the Ignatova family once owned a metallurgical factory.

The great thing is that the story was not finished before they started recording. The story continued to develop. An episode has even been postponed for five days because they followed a clue.

OneCoin was before the good ones

In the final episode, Bartlett discusses the impact of OneCoin in Uganda. He talks about the devastating consequences: families that have been torn apart, goats and houses that have been sold, and even churches that have been corrupted.

The bigger picture is that no matter how good bitcoin, cryptocurrency and decentralized fintech can be for the world, there are always bad parties who want to abuse this. In countries like Uganda, decentralized digital currency really has a place. The unbanked and the underbanked can participate in the global economy through cryptocurrency. But OneCoin was unfortunately faster than the good ones and that has turned out disastrous.

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All eight episodes can be heard for free on BBC Sounds.

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