The former friend of the fugitive Ruja Ignatova (aka Cryptocoin) has been sentenced to five years in prison for laundering profits of $300 million from investors of the fake crypto project OneCoin.
Gilbert Armenta, who held several important positions in the OneCoin project, was found guilty of actively participating in a scheme that misappropriated investors’ millions of dollars.
He pleaded guilty in 2018 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and racketeering in connection with the OneCoin project.
Armenta helped prosecutors expose the fraud for two years while they committed additional crimes, forcing authorities to seek a longer prison sentence.
Cryptoqueen and its fake digital currency
In 2014, Ignatova, who is Bulgarian, launched OneCoin, a $4 billion multi-level marketing scam based on fake cryptocurrency.
OneCoin was marketed as a digital currency that would transform the financial industry, and its promoters claimed that it was backed by gold reserves and using blockchain technology that was allegedly better than Bitcoin.
Supporters of OneCoin have asserted that the currency has a fixed amount of 120 billion coins and that it will become one of the most valuable cryptocurrencies in the world.
Ruja Ignatova a.k.a. Cryptoqueen. Image: BBC
In addition, they ensured great returns for the investors who purchased the coins and advertised them through multi-level marketing schemes in which participants earned commissions for recruiting new investors.
However, OneCoin was revealed to be a Ponzi scheme not backed by blockchain technology or actual cryptocurrency.
Cryptoqueen friend helped launder money
Its founders have raised billions of dollars from investors around the world. The fraud has resulted in the loss of many investors’ life savings.
Armenta’s conviction is the latest step in the lengthy OneCoin investigation, which has been described as one of the largest and most sophisticated frauds in history.
Armenta was charged with aiding Ignatova in money laundering and evading justice in connection with the fraudulent project. The ruling is a relief to millions of investors who have been deceived by the fraud, many of whom have yet to get their money back.
Between its launch and 2016, OneCoin defrauded millions of people to the tune of nearly $4 billion. The company’s founders asked investors to purchase educational packages for digital asset trading that range in price from 100 to 118,000 euros.
Crypto total market cap at $1 trillion on the daily chart | Chart: TradingView.com
Cryptocoin: One of the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives
In 2017, Ignatova, described by the BBC as “the woman who fooled the world”, was last seen in Athens, Greece. Some reports have claimed that she may be hiding in a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean with a good portion of the stolen money.
The FBI has joined the search for Cryptoqueen by placing it on its list of the 10 Most Wanted Fugitives. In addition, the agency offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to her location and arrest.
Featured image from The Independent