The United States government’s estimate that the OneCoin multi-level marketing scam is worth $4 billion could be far lower than the actual sum of mishandled funds, according to Jamie Bartlett, the head of the BBC’s The Missing Cryptoqueen podcast, which focuses on tracking down OneCoin co-founder Ruja Ignatova.
Indeed, citing the podcast, crypto news outlet CoinTelegraph said that the figure could be more than three or four times the US government’s estimate of roughly $4 billion. Documents uncovered by Bartlett during his research have revealed that OneCoin may have taken in $4 billion from just one continent.
OneCoin co-founder Ruja Ignatova is still at large
According to Bloomberg, OneCoin generated roughly 3.4 billion euros ($3.8) between the fourth quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2016; the company that allegedly ran the scheme, OneCoin Ltd., claimed to have over three million users worldwide.
Ruja Ignatova, who co-founded OneCoin with her brother, Konstantin Ignatov, has been missing since 2017 after OneCoin was widely suspected to be a scam. Ignatova, who was referred to as the “CryptoQueen” during the project’s peak, has been charged in connection with the case but has not appeared in court.
Ignatov was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport in March and is testifying as a witness for the government.
OneCoin’s lawyer claims that he didn’t know OneCoin was fraudulent
Last week, Finance Magnates reported that US-based attorney Mark Scott has been accused of filtering OneCoin’s money through a large number of shell companies, offshore bank accounts, and other fraudulent investment schemes to launder more than $400 million in illegally-generated funds. Scott is now on trial himself.
Prosecutor Julieta Lozano pointed out in court that in exchange for these services, Scott was paid with three multimillion-dollar homes in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and a 57-foot yacht, as well as several luxury cars.
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Yesterday Konstantin Ignatov – Dr Ruja’s brother & OneCoin boss after she left – told a US court that he’s pleaded guilty to wire fraud & knew that OneCoin was a fraudulent company. @JenMcAdamUK – the Scottish investor who lost €10k – sent me a message on hearing the news. pic.twitter.com/3cC2K2jxCH
— Jamie Bartlett (@JamieJBartlett) November 7, 2019
“The central issue at trial will be whether or not Mr. Scott knew OneCoin was operating a criminal scheme,” the prosecutors stated. So far, Scott has pleaded “not guilty,” and says that he was unaware that OneCoin was operating a criminal scheme.
Indeed, Scott told the FBI that before getting involved with OneCoin, he asked a colleague to investigate rumors that OneCoin may be a “pyramid scheme.” The colleague told him that “there was nothing illegal going on.” Scott also claims that he did not know that OneCoin did not have a blockchain.
However, Matthew Russell Lee, founder of investigative journalism firm Inner City Press, told CoinTelegraph that Scott’s “claims of not knowing that something was wrong are undercut by evidence he would only speak with Ruja Ignatova on a ‘crypto-phone’ and in some cases, only in person.”
The City of London Police share the same belief as foreign law enforcement partners as to the legitimacy of #OneCoin.
— City of London Police Fraud (@CityPoliceFraud) November 5, 2019
At the time of writing, OneCoin’s website appeared to be up and running.