Karl Greenwood, one of the co-founders of the OneCoin cryptocurrency scam, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to repay $300 million. This scam, associated with the infamous “Cryptoqueen” Ruja Ignatova, defrauded millions of victims worldwide, resulting in a total loss of $4 billion.
According to the BBC, Greenwood, a 46-year-old citizen of the UK and Sweden, co-founded OneCoin with Ignatova in 2014. He was arrested in Thailand in 2018 and faced charges of fraud and money laundering, leading to his extradition to the US. Ignatova, on the other hand, has been a fugitive since 2017 and faces similar charges. In fact, she was added to the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List in June 2022.
OneCoin was a global pyramid scam that aimed to capitalize on the success of Bitcoin. Officials claim that the scam used the popularity of Bitcoin to convince investors that OneCoin was the next “can’t miss” investment opportunity.
Greenwood played a crucial role in organizing a Ponzi scheme that involved over 3.5 million people. These individuals bought cryptocurrency packages and earned commissions for recruiting others, even though the OneCoin tokens they invested in were worthless. Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated that investors ultimately lost everything.
The OneCoin team promoted their product by comparing it to Bitcoin. However, according to the US Justice Department, they did not have a legitimate blockchain system that was publicly verifiable. They also lacked mining operations and didn’t have as many coins on their private blockchain as they claimed to have sold.
Greenwood managed to amass over $300 million through the scheme, which he used for various extravagant expenditures. These included a $10,000 stay at a luxurious five-star resort in Brazil, a $21,000 stay at an opulent villa in Thailand, designer clothing and watches, a yacht, real estate investments across multiple countries, and even a private “OneCoin” aircraft.
In response to Greenwood’s sentencing, Williams expressed hope that the lengthy sentence would resonate in the financial sector and deter anyone tempted to lie to investors and exploit the cryptocurrency ecosystem through fraud.
Meanwhile, Ruja Ignatova’s inclusion on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List makes her the 11th woman to achieve this distinction. The list, which has featured over 500 fugitives since its establishment, serves as a significant index of those sought by the FBI. The bureau is offering a reward of up to $250,000 for information leading to her arrest. Ignatova’s FBI profile notes that she is suspected of traveling with armed guards and may have undergone plastic surgery or other changes to her appearance.
It is important to note that the information in this article is derived from credible sources such as the BBC and Forbes, and the quotes provided are verbatim.
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