One of the co-founders of the OneCoin scam has been sentenced to spend 20 years in US prison, along with a fine of $300 million.
The OneCoin Scam
On September 12, a judge delivered a 20-year prison sentence to Karl Sebastian Greenwood, a key co-founder of OneCoin, for orchestrating a colossal cryptocurrency scam that swindled over $4 billion from countless investors across the globe. The case sheds light on one of the largest cryptocurrency frauds in history, revealing the depth of deception and audacity exhibited by Greenwood and his cohorts.
Karl Sebastian Greenwood marketed OneCoin as a credible alternative to Bitcoin, a facade that quickly unraveled upon scrutiny. His modus operandi involved crafting an intricate pyramid scheme that promised financial windfalls to new recruits, all while knowing that OneCoin held no intrinsic value or legitimacy.
Empty Promises and Red Flags
The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York disclosed that Greenwood incentivized members to rope in fresh victims, amassing over $200 million in commissions within two years. This scheme exploited the trust of unsuspecting individuals who believed they were entering the next Bitcoin frontier.
OneCoin, however, lacked the fundamental elements of a genuine cryptocurrency. It had no blockchain, conducted no mining operations, and arbitrarily concocted fictitious valuations that purportedly appreciated over time. Despite these glaring red flags, investors were duped into thinking that OneCoin could rival Bitcoin, a notion that was utterly baseless.
The Magnitude of Deceit
According to official records, OneCoin managed to generate €4.037 billion in sales revenue and accrued €2.735 billion in profits between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2016. This fraudulent operation ensnared over 3.5 million victims worldwide, solidifying its status as one of the most significant fraud schemes in history.
While countless investors suffered, Karl Sebastian Greenwood reveled in a life of opulence funded by his ill-gotten gains. He spared no expense, indulging in designer attire, extravagant timepieces, overseas real estate holdings, and even a down payment for a luxury yacht. His escapades extended to lavish first-class travels aboard a private OneCoin jet, stays at five-star resorts, and rented beachfront villas in picturesque destinations.
However, after being apprehended and charged by law enforcement, Greenwood pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in December 2022.
Ruja Ignatova: A Fugitive on the Run
One key accomplice in the OneCoin saga, Ruja Ignatova, remains at large. Also known as the “Cryptoqueen,” Ignatova vanished in 2017 after the U.S. indicted her on charges of fraud and money laundering. She played a pivotal role as the public face of OneCoin, orchestrating flashy marketing events and stoking hype while fully aware of the fraudulence behind the operation.
Earlier this year, rumors circulated that Ignatova met her demise in Greece five years ago.
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