Subpoenaed emails reveal OneCoin was fraudulent from inception
Over the course of the DOJ’s investigation into OneCoin, the department issued multiple subpoenas.
Some of those subpoenas pertained to email evidence, the publication of which has provided revealing insight into OneCoin’s operation.
Below are excerpts from emails and other sources of information obtained by the DOJ.
Below, I’ve categorized the DOJ’s evidence into relevant points of interest.
If at any point over the past four and a half years you believed the nonsense coming out of OneCoin HQ, prepare to have your mind blown.
For everybody else, make sure you grab an extra big tub of popcorn before reading on…
OneCoin was conceptualized as a Ponzi scheme
Back in 2016 BehindMLM published an expose into the history of OneCoin.
In a nutshell, Ruja Ignatova and Sebastian Greenwood birthed OneCoin out of the collapsed BigCoin Ponzi scheme.
Obtained evidence by the DOJ documents evidence between Ignatova and “Founder-2”.
Based on the following description of Founder-2, I am confident it refers to Sebastian Greenwood.
In an online video, Ruja attributed the multilevel marketing structure plan to Founder-2.
Founder-2 promoted OneCoin, including at official OneCoin events, and self-indentifies as OneCoin’s “Master Distributor 001.”
As they were initially plotting to launch their own BigCoin Ponzi clone, Ignatova and Greenwood were yet to come up with OneCoin.
Denoting the whole cryptocurrency shtick as simply a vehicle to continue to commit Ponzi fraud through, OneCoin as it was later known as was initially referred to as “trashy coin”.
Also, whereas later she adopted the moniker “CryptoQueen”, Ignatova initially saw herself as the “bitch of Wall Street”.
In the summer of 2014, Ruja and Founder-2 were developing the concept and payout plan for OneCoin, which they referred to at the time in email correspondence as “trashy coin”.
On June 11, 2014, Ruja wrote to Founder-2 concerning the OneCoin business plan:
It might not be [something] really clean or that I normally work on or even can be proud of (except with you in private when we make the money) – but … I am especially good in this very borderline cases [sic], where the things become gray – and you as the magic sales machine – and me as someone who really can work with numbers, legal and back you up in a good and professional way.
We could really make it big – like MLM meets bitch of wall street 😉
And so it was; Greenwood was to come up with the MLM side of the business, while Ignatova would focus on bringing the Ponzi “trashy coin” to market.
Along with “future of money” (which they copied from BigCoin), Ignatova and Greenwood would later come up with a “banking the unbanked” backstory for OneCoin.
Outside of its business model, post launch OneCoin’s Ponzi origins were buried.
OneCoin was never about education
In a June 11, 2014 email from Ruja Ignatova to Sebastian Greenwood, Ignatova instructed Greenwood on what he would be selling;
Your main sales argument is: after 2 splits a member makes out of 5.000 USD 25.000 USD.
You should be able to sell this 🙂
I also added an Extra Bonus for all members joining the Presales … they can do actually 3 splits.
Which means they will actually have 10x their investment.
2 splits is 5x your money. So of course, everybody who is greedy will go in with 5.000 USD.
In an effort to hide the fact that OneCoin was and only ever was a fraudulent money-making scheme, “education packages”, mostly copied from Wikipedia and other free informational sources, were later added to investment packages as pseudo-compliance.
Additionally, for bank accounts opened for or on behalf of OneCoin, the stated industry description was “investment management”.
Ruja Ignatova planned a OneCoin exit-scam before OneCoin had even launched
Coming off of the collapsed BigCoin Ponzi scheme, Ruja Ignatova knew full-well that Ponzi schemes have a limited shelf-life.
To that end, on August 9th, 2014, Ignatova sent Sebastian Greenwood an email detailing OneCoin “exit-strategies”.
The first option that Ruja listed was,
“Take the money and run and blame someone for this (standard approach, see Wenyard.”
Wenyard above refers to a Ponzi scheme launched in 2013.
Ignatova’s mention of it shows that she was following MLM Ponzi schemes while participating in BigCoin.
The DOJ have not published Ruja’s other planned exit-strategies.
Whether Ignatova’s chosen “go into hiding under the cover of maternity leave” exit-scam was pre-planned in 2014 is unknown.
OneCoin was conceptualized as manipulable Ponzi points, there was never a cryptocurrency
Despite later presenting herself as a cryptocurrency expert, the truth of it is Ruja Ignatova knew next to nothing about the technology.
Perhaps the most succinct example of this was Ignatova referring to a “genesis block” as a “guhneesis block” at a OneCoin event.
Naturally this meant outsourcing OneCoin development to someone else.
In an email sent to developers on June 9th, 2014, Ignatova defined what she wanted;
We are building our own cryptocurrency – and would like to set up an internal exchange service for them.
We would like to be able to set the price manually and automatically and also control the traded volume.
Centrally controlled Ponzi points, as described by Ignatova above, are chalk and cheese when compared to actual cryptocurrency.
OneCoin was never going to go public
OneCoin going public was a carrot dangled over investor’s heads from day one.
While a multitude of excuses were trotted out over the years for why it never did, the truth comes down to Ignatova not wanting to lose control of OneCoin’s value narrative.
By March 2015 OneCoin’s Ponzi scheme was in full-swing.
A key component to getting people to invest was the fiction that OneCoin points were increasing in value.
In an email sent to Greenwood on August 1st, 2015, Ignatova reveals how and why the value of OneCoin was determined.
6. Trading coin, stable exchange, always close on a high price end of day open day with high price, build confidence – better manipulation so they (investors) are happy.
In an email sent to Greenwood on March 21st, 2015, Ignatova reveals that in part, OneCoin’s internal value was manipulated via fake trading.
We can manipulate the exchange by simulating some volatility and intraday pricing [sic].
Despite being completely fraudulent, OneCoin’s fictional value increases were routinely used as marketing fodder by the company and its affiliates.
OneCoin created points on demand, they were not mined
In early 2017 evidence emerged suggesting OneCoin was built on a database, as opposed to an actual blockchain.
This permitted OneCoin to create points on demand, to be distributed to gullible investors at whatever the set internal value was a the time.
Publicly OneCoin denied the allegation, even going so far as to threaten the whistleblower who’d gone public.
Seized emails between Ignatova and Greenwood, dating back to August 2014, expose the deception behind OneCoin’s mining from day one.
Get members to think that they are mining their OneCoin via crunching (exchanging) tokens for OneCoin.
This storey [sic] is good as ppl will then not go super crazy and just try to sell tokens all the time.
The conversation continued via email into the following day, with Greenwood stating in an email to Ignatova dated August 12th, 2014;
The concept of converting tokens into OneCoin is an important phase for validity and truth behind the OneCoin.
The so called ‘mining’ of coins is a concept that is very familiar in the industry and a story we can sell to the members.
To which Ignatova replied;
We are not mining actually – but telling people shit.
Specifics of how OneCoin generated its points on demand were revealed in a September 6th email sent by Ignatova to Greenwood;
Ruja suggested that she and Founder-2 should decide upon the number of OneCoins to be generated every 10 minutes.
Specifically, Ruja suggested two scenarios, one of which envisioned that 10,000 OneCoins would be generated every 10 minutes.
At one point in the conversation Greenwood, seemingly reflecting on the deception he and Ignatova were plotting, expressed concern about being outed.
How can this be investigated and found out?
Can any member (trying to be clever) find out that we actually are not investing in machines to mine but it is merely a piece of software doing this for us?
As it turns out Greenwood’s concerns were valid. The truth did eventually come out.
Not that it seemed to matter any to OneCoin and their investors, who till the bitter end insisted the company had an actual blockchain.
Ruja Ignatova acknowledged the launch of OneCoin was not something she’d ever be proud of
Often portrayed as some kind of… well, “crypto queen”, the truth of it is Ignatova was just another Ponzi scammer – capitalizing on the momentum behind cryptocurrency to steal people’s money.
Perhaps the only time Ignatova expressed remorse was on the eve of OneCoin’s launch.
In an email sent to Greenwood on August 22nd, 2014, Ignatova lamented;
I am personally very unhappy – and feel that the future, regardless of what happens with onecoin is not really an exciting one – and nothing to be proud of.
I have done mayn [sic] bad things in my life, many stupid things, many things that were borderline – but nothing that I was partly ashamed of – and it actually destroys part of who I am.
The damage is done. I have to somehow live with it. But it is something that really upsets me.
Whatever reservations Ignatova might have had about OneCoin’s pending launch, were quickly forgotten as the millions, and later billions, rolled in from gullible investors all over the world.
The audits OneCoin claimed to have had done were a sham
Although no actual evidence of any audit actually taking place was ever presented, OneCoin insisted its non-existent blockchain was regularly audited.
At least that’s what they told their investors.
An email conversation between Ignatova and Greenwood from March 2015 reveals “having an auditor in place” is as far as OneCoin ever got.
Wrote Ignatova to Greenwood in March, 2015;
We have an auditor in place – but I think I cannot start auditing, as I cheat currently on coins, I need to find a way.
Another conversation in June 2015 details spreadsheets, suggesting OneCoin’s points database might even be more primitive than first thought.
The spreadsheets identify separate lines for “mined coins,” “mined coins (real),” and “fake coins.”
The FBI agent who went over the emails believes
the references to “fake coins” in these records refer to OneCoins that had been distributed to members but did not exist in the OneCoin “blockchain”.
I also believe Ruja’s March 19, 2015 email referred to the need to “cheat … on coins” is also a reference to the existence of fake coins at the time.
As the OneCoin Ponzi scheme began to spiral out of control, fake coins that technically didn’t exist became a bigger and bigger problem for Ignatova.
Following a promotional event held on or around July 2015, Ignatova sent Greenwood an email on August 6th;
This is the implication from the big sales 4 weeks ago. 1.3 [billion] fake coins.
We are fucked, this came unexpected and now needs serious, serious thinking.
As it were, Ignatova’s “serious thinking” saw the company simply increase fake coin production.
At some point the fake coins were merged with the rest of the non-existent coins, with everybody none the wiser.
Konstantin Ignatov and Sebastian Greenwood believed OneCoin investors were unintelligent crazy people
It is easy to look at OneCoin and see how someone might fall for it.
As the months of excuses turned to years however, serious questions as to the intelligence of those who still believed was a recurring theme.
I don’t mean to sound crass, but at times there really was no explanation other than abundant stupidity.
As per a message exchange between Konstantin Ignatov and Sebastian Greenwood in September 2016, turns out those were exactly the type of people OneCoin was engineered to appeal to.
Founder-2: These ppl are crazy
Founder-2: Like they want to speak every hour abt shit
Ignatov: haha they are. tried to fixed it with him, tried to avoid bothering you as far as possible. so you are not lost everying s fine 😉
Founder-2: These ppl are idiots
Ignatov: as you told me, the (OneCoin) network would not work with intelligent people 😉
DealShaker was a cover for the Ponzi scheme
As part of the ruse that OneCoin held any value outside of the Ponzi scheme, at some point DealShaker was announced.
DealShaker was presented as a merchant platform, however in reality proved to be nothing more than a platform for scammers to list bogus deals and steal gullible investor’s onecoin points through.
Reviewed emails between Ignatova and “OneCoin’s Hong Kong Officer Manager”, reveal
a number of OneCoin members in China reported being defrauded of fiat currency in connection with attempts to purchase cars through the DealShaker platform.
The prime reason behind DealShaker’s dysfunction is that the platform was never meant to be taken seriously.
In response to the rampant theft occurring through DealShaker, Ignatova told OneCoin’s Hong Kong office manager;
I will not pay for members [sic] stupidity, I am sorry.
This will set a precedent that is simply not acceptable.
Only thing I am ok to do is to give them onecoins of that value. Or double the value.
It was eventually decided that Chinese DealShaker victims would be compensated in worthless OneCoin.
Ignatova instructed OneCoin’s Hong Kong manager to “do what you need to do to calm them down”.
One unintentional consequence of DealShaker is that it sometimes revealed the actual going rate of OneCoin points.
A much publicized DealShaker auction in Romania last year saw a BMW go for around €40,000 euros in OneCoin.
The balance paid, entirely in OneCoin, gave an approximate value to each OneCoin point paid of around €0.011 EUR.
The made-up internal value of OneCoin at the time was well over €20 EUR each.
OneCoin promptly cancelled the auction and swept the matter under the carpet.
Konstantin was in place to take over from Ruja as early as September, 2016
A series of messages sent to Sebastian Greenwood by Ruja Ignatova in September 2016, reveals Konstantin Ignatova was in place to take over from Ignatova in the event something should happen to her.
Ruja: Ok love. Just landed in frankfurt. Let s hope all will be well and i can pass
Ruja: I will not go through passport control. But a bit nervous.
Ruja: Such a bad feeling
Ruja: I pass tjrough [sic] airport
Ruja: Frankfurt. Just landed. And then sofia in 2 hrs. If sth happens. My brother knows what to do and will inform you
Ruja: Hate my life. But have mtgs tonight. Had no choice in flights
Ruja: Will text in 3 hrs when on other plane
Greenwood had Ruja listed in his cell phone as “HRH”, an abbreviation believed to stand for “Her Royal Highness”.
Whether Ignatova and Greenwood (center, right) were romantically linked has never been confirmed.
Ignatova is believed to be married to a German national. The father of her purported child is unknown.
Ignatov meanwhile is believed to have on his person at all times a signed power of attorney, pertaining to Ignatova’s assets.
A Secondary Baggage Exam by US Customs and Border Protection on February 27th, 2019, revealed
a signed power of attorney form granting Konstantin Ignatov the power to exercise, among other powers, “full control over any and all of [Ruja’s] property,” the power to “agree, negotiate, and make any agreement, promise or undertaking concerning [Ruja’s] property with any third-party,” and the power to “appear in [Ruja’s] name and in [her] stead before any competent court and legal or public authority.”
The power of attorney form was signed by Ruja Ignatova and dated February 8th, 2018.
By April 2018, OneCoin had become such a convoluted mess that even its accountants had no idea what was going on
In or around April 2018, Konstantin Ignatov sent and received messages to and from an employee who was an accountant at OneCoin.
In the message exchange, Ignatov sent the OneCoin Accountant two spreadsheets titled “remittance” and “ACCOUNT STS,” and a PDF filed titled “Accounting Opening Details”.
Soon after sending these files, Ignatov wrote to the OneCoin Accountant,
“These papers should be reviewed by you as they may indicate that someone in the company has been complicit in the transfers.”
In response, the OneCoin Accountant wrote,
“I don’t understand most of these transfers.
I can tell you only the incoming ones that I know of as they were payments for codes, but the rest I have no idea.”
At least one OneCoin witness is cooperating with the DOJ, in exchange for a reduced sentence
Prison time is almost certain for OneCoin executives.
In addition to the arrest of Konstantin Ignatov on March 6th, the DOJ have cited a cooperating witness as “CW-1”.
CW-1 has pled guilty to federal crimes pursuant to a cooperation agreement with the Government, and is cooperating in the interest of receive a reduced sentence in connection with those crimes.
The only other OneCoin related arrests we’re aware of are Mark Scott and Sebastian Greenwood.
As far as I’m aware Mark Scott has not pled guilty to anything.
The legal status of Sebastian Greenwood is unknown since he was arrested and extradited from Thailand last November.
CW-1 is either Greenwood or another currently unknown individual that has since been arrested.
OneCoin took in upwards of €3.35 billion euros ($3.76 billion USD)
Based on forensic analysis of identified OneCoin bank accounts across Bulgaria, the UAE, Georgia, Germany, the UK, the US, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Singapore, the DOJ believe OneCoin solicited €3.353 billion EUR from investors.
This amount was taken in from OneCoin’s launch in 2014 to the third quarter of 2016.
Of the funds invested, around 60% was from China, 18% from Europe and 15% from Australia.
As of December 2016, 3% of OneCoin’s revenue, totalling around €50 million EUR, has been attributed to the US and Caribbean islands.
Of the €3.353 billion EUR OneCoin took in during 2014 to 2016, only €1.121 billion EUR was paid out.
The DOJ has managed to track around $1.2 billion USD of OneCoin investment, laundered through “at least 21 different countries”.
In total, US federal prosecutors have pegged OneCoin investor losses at over $4 billion USD.
Ruja Ignatova was acutely aware she was being investigated
One frustrating aspect of covering OneCoin was often the ease of which its executives and promoters seemingly evaded authorities.
One possible explanation is the FBI’s revelation that there is evidence to suggest
Ruja and other OneCoin principals have acquired unauthorized access to otherwise confidential information regarding law enforcement operations.
How OneCoin’s principals might have acquired access is not stated.
Ruja Ignatova was never on maternity leave, she went into hiding and fled Bulgaria on a budget airline on October 2017
When Ruga Ignatova initiated her exit-scam and disappeared, the ruse that surfaced was that she was on maternity leave.
As the months dragged on, maternity leave became “extended maternity leave”.
As the months further dragged on, Konstantin Ignatov covered for his sister by attributing her disappearance to received death threats.
While not unbelievable, OneCoin caused billions in losses, the truth was far more simple.
A few months into her planned disappearance in mid 2017, Ignatova boarded a Ryanair flight on October 25th.
The flight was bound for Greece, after which Ignatova’s trail goes cold.
Despite further enquiries into the FBI’s Assistant Legal Attache in Greece, investigating agents have not been able to determine whether Ruja subsequently traveled to another jurisdiction from Greece.
Moreover, the Investigative Team has conducted open source researching regarding Ruja’s online presence since in or about October 2017.
Ruja has since made no appearances at any public OneCoin events, and has made no public statement regarding her whereabouts.
In summary, Ignatova hasn’t been seen or heard from since October 2017.
The FBI has concluded,
based on, among other things, the evidence … that Ruja and others have acquired unauthorized access to sensitive information regarding law enforcement operations, Ruja’s unusual travel out of Bulgaria in or about October 2017, and Ruja’s lack of any online presence since in or about October 2017, … that Ruja grew concerned about possible prosecution and arrest, and took steps to avoid any such arrest.
While they’ll no doubt get her one day, for now Ruja Ignatova’s status is and remains unknown.