back to article CryptoQueen on the run from Feds, lawsuit after her OneCoin slammed as 'an old-school pyramid scheme on a new-school platform'

Another cryptocurrency caper has been hit with a fraud lawsuit – this time OneCoin, set up and run by the self-titled "CryptoQueen" Ruja Ignatova. Ignatova and her brother Konstantin are being sued in a New York federal court by investor Christine Grablis, who claims that the Bulgarian siblings ran a "$4bn Ponzi scheme" for an …

  1. Kernel

    " 'an old-school pyramid scheme on a new-school platform'"

    So, not too much different to any other crypto-currency then - other, perhaps, than this one was streamlined by removing the whole tedious and increasingly expensive mining process from the equation (or apparently, lack of equation in this case).

    1. HildyJ Silver badge

      So what's the harm?

      They were taking money from greedy fools and eliminating the massive carbon footprint of mining server farms.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: So what's the harm?

        HildyJ, if you are trying to make a funny, you failed miserably.

        Unless you actually want to see folks like your DearOldMum and Gran defrauded out of their retirement savings, that is.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "folks like your DearOldMum and Gran defrauded"

          If they are so fool and greed - and didn't listen to their relatives advises - they deserved it.

          I know people (hence the anonymous post) who greedily participated in the TelexFree scam - and tried to "recruit" people at our workplace too - even complained when I told them to keep their dirty businesses out of it - I hope they lost enough money to learn the lesson.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "folks like your DearOldMum and Gran defrauded"

            So in your mind, stealing from people is OK as long as the people you are stealing from are stupid and greedy?

            Your mum must be right proud of you.

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: "folks like your DearOldMum and Gran defrauded"

              I don't think my mum would be down with stealing, but bad things happening to someone who was greedy and ignored advice? She'd be ok with that I think.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "folks like your DearOldMum and Gran defrauded"

              I'm happy when fraudster are found and jailed, but some people never learn until they are hit on their noses hard. I would never steal from greedy and stupid people - it happened exactly I advised them to avoid to be stupid and greedy - but if after that they put themselves in trouble, should I believe they were just "poor deceived people"?

              When the first idiots here fell in the TelexFree scam ("hey, money for doing nothing but finding new fools, what could be wrong?") I advised them it was a scam. They didn't listen, of course, and even tried to recruit other collegues here to make more money (which is the very definition of "greed"). When I told them I didn't want to see people in my workplace conned and in trouble for losing money in a scam (and it was my duty because who knows what an employee in financial trouble could do), they whined "I should not interfere". So yes, if people like these lose money, I'm happy.

            3. aks

              Re: "folks like your DearOldMum and Gran defrauded"

              If the people you're dealing with are smarter and greedier than you, there's no other result possible. Doesn't matter if you don't like it, that's how it has always been.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Remember, kiddies ...

    ... if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Talk to a real broker or two (or three, or ...) before investing in anything ... unless you want to be the brokee.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Remember, kiddies ...

      Everyone forgets what Thomas Tusser said: "A fool and his money are soon parted." The catch is that those being foolish never see themselves that way.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Remember, kiddies ...

        Tusser actually said: "A foole & his money, be soone at debate; which after with sorow, repents him to late." in Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie, 1573.

        It was John Bridges that first said "If they pay a penie or two pence more for the reddinesse of them ... let them looke to that, a foole and his money is soone parted." in Defence of the Government of the Church of England, 1587

        Doesn't alter your point, though.

      2. fandom

        Re: Remember, kiddies ...

        Isaac Newton lost a fortune in the South Sea Bubble.

        If, perhaps, the most intelligent person that ever lived can be a fool, it's hard to blame normal people for making a few mistakes here and there

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Remember, kiddies ...

          You seem to be treating "intelligence" as a scalar attribute. If intelligence means anything useful at all, it has to refer to a large set of poorly-defined, poorly-understood, divergent mental faculties. There's no reason to believe that someone with extraordinary ability in mathematics and natural sciences would be any better than average at estimating the risk of a proposition with severely limited information, or any better at deciding to act prudently having made such an estimation.

          Newton and the Bubble might serve as an object lesson (albeit only anecdotal) to remind us that any one sort of intelligence has little bearing outside its domain. It doesn't really say anything about whether we might expect "normal people" (a vexed categorization anyway) to, on average, do well or poorly when deciding how to invest their resources.

    2. DCFusor

      Re: Remember, kiddies ...

      And Jake, know that there's a bit of advice in the broker biz. Always ask "where are the other client's yachts?".

      Because like a lawyer, the broker gets his % win or lose....HE might seem to be wealthy and connected, but that's not a positive indicator of what will happen to your money - he might be wealthy via theft from his other customers.

      Truth is, if they were actually any good at trading, they'd already be rich and have no time for you.

      That one is worth some serious thought no matter the scheme presented. Why, again, do you need my money? If there's wild profits to be made, why are you wanting to share them? (if it's really a reasonably sure thing, plenty of institutions are begging to lend money at silly rates just now) Nice to believe someone would be that altruistic, now if I could just find a single historical example, I could hang up my cynic hat. But it remains securely on my head.

  3. msknight Silver badge

    Money money money...

    ... it's not funny. It's a crypto world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Money money money...

      Yes, the scammer takes it all...

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: Money money money...

        The day before you came... and fraudulently took all of my money money money.

        Two for the price of one???

  4. DavCrav Silver badge

    "Unlike authentic cryptocurrencies, which maintain records of their investors’ transaction history, OneCoin had no real value," the FBI's Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement."

    This William Sweeney needs a new keyboard. When he typed out that sentence the letters 'u' and 'n' mistakenly appeared at the start of it.

    1. defiler

      I love the fact that even in the US the law enforcement can be called The Sweeney.

    2. aks

      Beat me to it. Dang.

      All e-coin consists of simply generating a unique number and assigning it/selling it to an individual. I still don't see any value in that.

      Blockchain is an interesting technology that may well have a place but is logically unrelated.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        I still don't see any value in that.

        It's exchange value. Any time you have a sufficiently large market willing to use some currency as a medium of exchange, that currency has exchange value. Doesn't matter whether it's chunks of precious metal or pieces of paper or rocks with holes in them or numbers.

        For that matter, the currencies of modern industrialized nations are just numbers that are assigned to some account.

        I'm not a fan of cryptocurrencies - I don't have any use for them, they're too volatile for my taste, proof-of-work is a huge waste of resources, deflationary currencies are a Bad Thing, the financial infrastructure that's grown up to support cryptocurrencies is hilariously insecure, and so on. (Not all of those points applies to every cryptocurrency, of course, but the first and last are enough.) But even basic economics explains how they have value, when they do have value.

        1. holmegm

          The question is what is the difference between this scam and "real" cryptocurrencies.

          I mean, there's no intrinsic reason that people couldn't use numbers just handed out (instead of "mined") as exchange media. That's essentially how not-so-crypto-currency works.

          Except that not-so-crypto-currency at least has government force behind it, instead of in front of it ...

  5. Alister

    Off with her head!

    According to Her Majesty Helena

  6. Alistair

    lord luv a duck.

    I honestly find that some of these threads develop some serious conflict based on 'it didn't happen to me so what' that seems to run around these days. Me, I have a sense of humour, although a tad off the wall sometimes, and try to make sure that it is tagged.

    What I can't get over in these cases, i.e. the several fraud pyramids that have occurred around crypto currency and equally flaky investment schemes that are running about these days, is that people DO NOT seem to understand the simplest of checks and balances any more. The 'a fool and his money are soon parted' type phrases cut both ways. Yes, there are fools out there to be parted from their money. The real bit is that there are those that know this and will cultivate that fool for their money. And try to cultivate *others* who will see through the scam. Personally, I'd like to find the *others* in this case that *DO* see through the scam, and didn't follow up on their discoveries.

    Does *NO* one understand that MLM, no matter its incarnation and form, *HAS* to collapse into bankruptcy at some point? Does no one understand logarythmic progression?

    1. DCFusor

      Re: lord luv a duck.

      Alistair, it's quite the rare person who understands these things. Of course, the issue is not that they can't it's that they won't. Wikipedia for one has a long list of cognitive biases.

      And at that it leaves out a few. When I was trading, I referred to that list a lot, so as not to fall prey to one of them myself, while recognizing them in potential "other sides of the trade" - and that's how I retired young.

      There's even a website now that specializes in pointing out that you can't grow forever on a finite planet. And only a few have even looked at it...

      A choice quote or two:

      Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” One can obviously extend this thought to "profits".

      HL Mencken: Too many goodies to list here (Even prophesied the current CIC) so just enjoy the page:

  7. tmTM

    A fool and their money

    Will apparently still try and take you to court after they've forked it all over.

    Maybe try using an ounce of common sense before investing in such utter rubbish next time???

    1. n10cities

      Re: A fool and their money

      IKR? I did a Google search on the pair and the brother is covered in tattoos on his arms, hands, and neck.

      As to what they say about 'first impressions', if I had met this guy face to face, I would have thought 'That dude is sketchy AF!' I don't care if he IS wearing an expensive business suit.

      I wouldn't have given him one red cent after seeing him!

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    an initial coin offering that "never really existed, on a blockchain that never really existed, born from mining farms that never really existed."

    One of the better ones, then?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Totally secure! You can't steal our digital wallet, because we don't have one.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I'm trying to understand Christine Grabils' role in all this.

    She's described as an "investor". Is she one of those who lost money and is trying to get it back? If so, why is she trying to turn it into a class action? Whatever money's left, assuming it can be grabbed, will amount to less for her if it's divided more ways, and that after the biggest share has been taken by the lawyers that the feeding frenzy of a class action brings.

    Or is she trying to invest into creating that feeding frenzy?

    1. Spleen

      If her lawsuit has even a snowball's chance in hell of making any recoveries, all the other victims are going to pile in with their own lawsuits whether she likes it or not.

      She may as well make hers a class action suit which may save her some dough and give her some added control as first out of the blocks.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "If her lawsuit has even a snowball's chance in hell of making any recoveries, all the other victims are going to pile in with their own lawsuits whether she likes it or not."

        She needs to instruct those well-known solicitors Sue, Grabbit and Run.

  10. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    Is there only one person in this gang who has a cool villain name (CryptoQueen), or are you just not telling us the others? Apart from "Locke Lord" maybe.

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