In the cryptocurrency world, two names above all are synonymous with bad notoriety: Ruja Ignatova, the founder of OneCoin, a fraudulent scheme that swindled billions from millions of investors, and Irina Dilkinska, the Head of Legal and Compliance for OneCoin.
Ignatova, dubbed the “Cryptoqueen,” vanished in 2017, leaving behind a trail of deception and a fortune amassed through her fraudulent enterprise. Diklinska, on the other hand, entered a guilty plea for wire fraud and money laundering charges on November 9 in a federal court in Manhattan.
According to the DOJ, US District Judge Edgardo Ramos accepted Dilklinska’s guilty plea.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York announced this development. OneCoin, established in 2014 by Ruja Ignatova and Karl Sebastian Greenwood, functioned as a worldwide multi-level-marketing (MLM) network headquartered in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The cryptocurrency falsely promised profitable returns linked to the quantity of tokens users possessed on a fraudulent platform.
OneCoin successfully deceived millions globally, with victims investing over $4 billion in the fraudulent scheme.
The guilty plea from Dilkinska, exposes her involvement in facilitating the laundering of millions of dollars obtained through OneCoin’s MLM structure.
Despite her role, Dilkinska actively participated in day-to-day operations, overseeing the transfer of $110 million in fraudulently obtained proceeds to a Cayman Islands entity. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams remarked: “As OneCoin’s so-called ‘Head of Legal and Compliance,” Irina Dilkinska accomplished the exact opposite goal of her position.
The dedicated prosecutors of this Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to pursue this important case until every defendant is brought to justice.
Dilkinska pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, each carrying a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison. Sentencing will arrive on Feb. 14, 2024, while Ignatova, remains at large.
The allegations against OneCoin describe a pyramid scheme that lured over three million investors worldwide between 2014 and 2016.
Despite reporting sales revenue of more than €4.0 billion and claimed ‘profits’ of more than €2.7 billion during those years, the scheme faced closure as victims reported it to authorities. Ignatova, charged in 2017, vanished before being accused, and her whereabouts remain unknown.
Unsubstantiated reports in 2022 suggested Ignatova’s possible assassination off the coast of Greece, linked to a Bulgarian drug lord involved with the project. The FBI, offering a $100,000 reward , continues to seek information about Ignatova, listed on the Top Ten Most Wanted List.”
What actually happened was that a police document, disclosed by Bulgarian investigative outlet BIRD (Bureau for Investigative Reporting and Data), suggested the possibility that Ruja Ignatova, who vanished in 2017
, may have been assassinated on the orders of a Bulgarian crime boss.
However, Atanas Tchobanov, a journalist at BIRD, emphasized that this scenario is merely a hypothesis. BIRD came across the alleged murder speculation while covering the killing of a police officer in March 2022.
The document, discovered in the officer’s safe, contained a one-page report claiming that the brother-in-law of Bulgarian crime boss Christophoros Amanatidis, also known as Taki, confessed during a yacht trip in Cuba to ordering a successful hit on Ignatova.
According to the account, Ignatova was purportedly killed on another yacht in the Ionian Sea in November 2018, and her body was allegedly dismembered and disposed of at sea.
This narrative relies heavily on hearsay, so approach it with caution. Tchobanov noted that a source connected to Ignatova’s brother contradicted the BIRD-published document, stating that Ignatova contacted her brother in early 2019, months after the rumored incident.
This instance serves as a cautionary note, emphasizing the importance for investors to exercise caution when confronted with crypto investment returns that appear excessively lucrative. Regulatory authorities persist in their efforts to combat fraudulent schemes within the cryptocurrency realm.