In early June 2016, Dr Ruja Ignatova, a 36-year-old businesswoman, took the stage at Wembley Arena in front of thousands of adoring fans. She was dressed in an expensive ballgown, long diamond earrings, and bright red lipstick, as was customary.
Dr. Ruja warned the Wembley audience that OneCoin was the "Bitcoin Killer.""No one will be talking about Bitcoin in two years!" she exclaimed.
People from all over the world were already investing in OneCoin in the hopes of becoming a part of this new revolution.
According to documents obtained by the BBC, British citizens spent around €30 million on OneCoin in the first six months of 2016, including €2 million in a single week.
To explain this, I'll first go through what a cryptocurrency is and how it works.
Money is only value because it is deemed valuable by others. It only works when everyone trusts it, whether it's Bank of England notes and coins, shells, precious stones, or matchsticks - all of which have been used as money in the past.
someone who had done extensive research on OneCoin and wanted to speak with those who had invested. She reluctantly agreed to a Skype conversation. It turned out to be nothing more than a yelling contest, but it would change OneCoin investors life forever.
Timothy Curry, a Bitcoin enthusiast and cryptocurrency evangelist, was the stranger. He was concerned that OneCoin would tarnish cryptocurrency, and he told McAdam straight out that it was a scam - "the largest scam in the [expletive] world." He claimed that he, too, could prove it. He introduced her to Bjorn Bjercke, the blockchain developer who said there was no blockchain.
Dr. Ruja began spending her newfound wealth by purchasing multimillion-dollar properties in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, and Sozopol, a Black Sea resort. She used to throw parties on her opulent yacht, The Davina, in her spare time. Bebe Rexha, an American pop artist, performed a private set at one of them in July 2017 reported by BBC.
The conversion of OneCoin to cash was continually postponed, causing investors to become increasingly worried.
This was supposed to be resolved in October 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, at a huge assembly of European OneCoin promoters.
When the time arrived, however, Dr Ruja, who was known for her reliability, failed to appear.
Dr. Ruja was no longer among us. Some speculated that she had been murdered or kidnapped by the banks, who, according to popular belief, had the most to worry about the Bitcoin revolution.
She had, in reality, gone underground. She boarded a Ryanair flight from Sofia to Athens on October 25, 2017, just two weeks after her Lisbon no-show, according to FBI records provided in court documents earlier this year.
She then completely vanished from view. Dr. Ruja hasn't been seen or heard from since that time. Dr. Ruja's brother, Konstantin, who took over as the scam's leader a few months after her disappearance, was convicted in July 2018 but was released after giving testimony to obtain time served.
Also co-founder Sebastian Greenwood is currently serving time in prison in the United States.
According to a lawyer for one of the scam's victims, Karl Sebastian Greenwood, one of the masterminds of the Onecoin pyramid scheme, while imprisoned in the United States in November 2021, he used a contraband mobile phone to transfer at least $20 million.