‘Cryptoqueen’ cohort pleads guilty to fraud charges

By James Langton | December 16, 2022 | Last updated on December 16, 2022
1 min read

The co-founder of one of the biggest crypto scams to date — the OneCoin pyramid scheme, which cost investors billions of dollars — has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering charges in New York.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York announced that OneCoin co-founder Karl Sebastian Greenwood pleaded guilty in federal court over his role in the scheme, which allegedly took in billions of dollars from millions of investors around the world.

“As a founder and leader of OneCoin, Karl Sebastian Greenwood operated one of the largest international fraud schemes ever perpetrated,” said U.S. attorney Damian Williams in a release.

According to U.S. authorities, OneCoin launched in 2014 and marketed its cryptocurrency as a rival to Bitcoin when in fact it was at the centre of what became a massive pyramid scheme.

Greenwood’s partner in the company — the so-called “cryptoqueen” Ruja Ignatova — remains at large and was added to the FBI’s 10 most wanted list earlier this year.

Ignatova was the face of the scheme before she disappeared in 2017, and Greenwood headed the company’s multi-level marketing network. He was arrested in Thailand in 2018 and extradited to the U.S. that year.

“Greenwood and his co-conspirators, including fugitive Ruja Ignatova, conned unsuspecting victims out of billions of dollars, claiming that OneCoin would be the ‘Bitcoin killer.’ In fact, OneCoins were entirely worthless,” Williams said.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for Advisor.ca and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.