OneCoin Co-Founder Sentenced to 20 Years in Massive Cryptocurrency Fraud Case



Key Takeaways

  • Karl Greenwood, co-founder of the fraudulent cryptocurrency OneCoin, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in a massive $4 billion pyramid scheme.
  • The scheme, which ran from 2014 to 2016, defrauded millions of investors worldwide. Greenwood pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges.

OneCoin Co-Founder Sentenced to 20 Years

In a significant development in the world of cryptocurrency fraud, Karl Greenwood, the co-founder of the fraudulent cryptocurrency OneCoin, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Greenwood, aged 46, played a central role in orchestrating one of the largest pyramid schemes in history, which amassed over $4 billion from millions of investors across the globe. He pleaded guilty in December to charges of wire fraud and money laundering.


Greenwood’s partner in the scheme, Ruja Ignatova, who earned the moniker “Cryptoqueen” and was featured on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, remains at large. The U.S. Department of Justice has been pursuing Ignatova for her central role in the OneCoin fraud. Despite ongoing efforts to locate and apprehend her, she continues to evade law enforcement.

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Massive Pyramid Scheme Exposed

The OneCoin cryptocurrency scheme, which originated in Bulgaria in 2014, duped over 3.5 million individuals and collected more than $4 billion in just two years, from 2014 to 2016. This elaborate fraud operation was marketed and sold through a multilevel marketing structure, offering commissions to OneCoin members who recruited others to invest in crypto packages. Greenwood, who served as the top distributor, received a substantial share, totaling over $300 million from OneCoin sales.


While Greenwood and Ignatova consistently promoted OneCoin as a lucrative cryptocurrency investment akin to Bitcoin, the truth was far from it. OneCoin had no actual value and was designed as a fraudulent operation from its inception, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The co-founders continuously deceived investors by falsely asserting that OneCoin’s value was determined by market forces when, in reality, its price was arbitrarily set.

The Search for Ignatova Continues

Ruja Ignatova was charged in October 2017 with multiple counts related to fraud and money laundering. Following the issuance of a federal warrant for her arrest, Ignatova fled from Bulgaria to Athens, Greece. Since then, she has not made any public appearances. The FBI is actively seeking information leading to Ignatova’s arrest and is offering a reward of up to $250,000 for assistance. Ignatova is believed to travel with armed guards or associates and may have altered her appearance through plastic surgery or other means.


This landmark sentencing of Karl Greenwood serves as a significant step in bringing justice to victims of the OneCoin pyramid scheme, yet the hunt for the elusive “Cryptoqueen” continues.