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FBI's Most Wanted Scammer Ruja Ignatova Vanished With $4 Billion; Was She Murdered by a Bulgarian Drug Lord?

A new report from the BBC alleges Ignatova was linked to a drug kingpin and may have been murdered.
PUBLISHED JUN 5, 2024
Dr. Ruja Ignatova | Wikimedia Commons | Photo by Flickr
Dr. Ruja Ignatova | Wikimedia Commons | Photo by Flickr

The notorious “cryptoqueen”, who orchestrated the $4.5 billion OneCoin Ponzi scheme, has now been linked to the Bulgarian underworld. As per a BBC World Service and BBC news report, the FBI’s most wanted woman, Ruja Ignatova is believed to have worked with Hristoforos Nikos Amanatidis, aka Taki, a nefarious figure in the world of organized crime in Bulgaria. The report uncovered information that alleged Ignatova hired Taki as her security provider, who is believed to be behind Ignatova's disappearance.



Ignatova was born in Bulgaria and raised in Germany. She graduated from Oxford University and pursued a career in finance before launching the dubious cryptocurrency OneCoin in 2014.

Ignatova led campaigns that convinced millions across the globe to invest in OneCoin. However, Ignatova in reality had created an investment fraud and had no digital record that underlined the legitimacy of her cryptocurrency.

Representative image | Unsplash | Photo by Kanchanara
Representative image | Unsplash | Photo by Kanchanara

In the scam, investors lost about $4.5 billion and as investigators from Germany and the U.S. closed in on Ignatova, she took an early morning Ryanair flight from Sofia to Athens, in October 2017. She hasn’t been found ever since and has earned a top spot on the FBI’s most-wanted list.



Investigations conducted by the BBC’s Eye and Panorama teams suggest that Taki was the man in charge of keeping Ignatova safe. Earlier in 2019, the US government lawyers said that Ignatova’s head of security was a major organized crime figure in Bulgaria without naming the man.

Richard Reinhardt, who began the investigation into OneCoin for the US Internal Revenue Service told BBC that this man was no other than the “big-time drug guy” Taki. “This is like a white-collar criminal combined with a drug trafficker or mafia guy on steroids,” Reinhardt told BBC.

Reinhardt’s theory appeared to be supported by leaked Europol documents, seen by the BBC as well. As per the documents the Bulgarian police had established connections between Ignatova and Taki.

Multiple sources of the publication suggest that Taki had a close personal relationship with Ignatova and was the godfather to her daughter.

The BBC calls Taki the El Chapo or Pablo Escobar of Bulgaria. He is allegedly the head of a Bulgarian organized crime organization and a prolific drug smuggler. Along with his associates, Taki has been investigated there for armed robbery, drug smuggling, and murder, but has been successfully prosecuted.

According to former Bulgarian deputy minister, Ivan Hristanov, Taki ran a criminal network with the help of corrupt officials. “The only person who can protect her [Ignatova] from all those investigations, including from foreign agencies - it was Taki,” Hristanov said at the time as per BBC.

Taki is now believed to live in Dubai, where Ignatova bought a luxury penthouse and where her bank accounts received tens of millions of dollars from her fraud.

One Bulgarian source told the BBC that Ignatova may have paid Taki up to €100,000 a month for protection and there have been complex deals regarding land sale and more between them.



While Taki was the head of protection, the BBC found information suggesting that he may have turned the aggressor when Ignatova was on the run.

In 2022, Bulgarian investigative journalist Dimitar Stoyanov reported via the investigative news outlet Bird.bg, that Taki may have murdered Ignatova to cut his ties with the Onecoin scam.

The report mentioned a police report found at the home of a murdered Bulgarian police officer. The report mentioned details of Taki’s brother drunkenly stating that Ignatova was murdered in late 2018, and her body was dismembered and dumped off a yacht in the Ionian Sea.



However, there have been reports and tip-offs of several sightings of Ignatova after her alleged murder took place. Thus, both the claims of Ignatova being dead or alive aren’t verified.

For now, Ignatova remains on the FBI’s top ten most wanted list and she may be removed only when there is “definitive proof” of her death.

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