Cryptocurrency Fraud , Fraud Management & Cybercrime
US Charges Bulgarian Woman in $4B OneCoin Fraud CaseIrina Dilkinska Allegedly Laundered $400M as Firm's Legal, Compliance Head
A Bulgarian woman extradited to the United States for her role in a $4 billion crypto pyramid scheme adds to a growing list of law enforcement actions against perpetrators of the OneCoin Ponzi scheme.
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Federal prosecutors say Irina Dilkinska, 41, laundered $400 million through the fraudulent crypto firm and other shell companies. The head of head of legal and compliance "accomplished the exact opposite of her job title," said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
Operators of Bulgaria-based OneCoin marketed it as a cryptocurrency. Members received commissions for recruiting others to purchase cryptocurrency packages, which led to more than 3 million people investing in the company. Between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2016, OneCoin generated $4 billion in sales revenue and earned profits of close to $3 billion, said the Southern District of New York U.S. attorney's office. OneCoin's co-founder pleaded guilty in December (see: Co-Founder of OneCoin Cryptocurrency Scam Pleads Guilty).
Alleged scam mastermind Bulgarian national Ruja Ignatova, 42, whose preferred moniker was "Cryptoqueen," remains at large. Now on the run for more than half a decade, Ignatova is on the most wanted lists of Europol and the FBI.
Dilkinska faces a maximum prison sentence of 40 years if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Extradited from Bulgaria on Monday, she is expected to appear in a U.S. court later on Tuesday.
She assisted a co-conspirator in laundering approximately $400 million in OneCoin proceeds, destroyed incriminating evidence when she learned of the co-conspirator's arrest and sent another member of the scheme "incriminating" messages, the Department of Justice said.
Ignatova's brother, who is also a OneCoin co-founder, Konstantin Ignatov, pleaded guilty to the money laundering and fraud charges after his arrest in 2019 at Los Angeles International Airport. Beyond OneCoin lacking an actual blockchain, the DOJ said when announcing his arrest that "by approximately March 2015, Ignatova and her co-founder had started allocating to OneCoin members coins that did not even exist in OneCoin's purported private blockchain, referring to them as 'fake coins.'"