The media mill is churning once more, and for the first time, a real-life cryptocurrency scam is set to be adapted into a movie. The Missing Cryptoqueen, a podcast on BBC Sounds that explores the disappearance of the crypto Ponzi scheme OneCoin’s founder Ruja Ignatova, is set to be adapted into a miniseries.
According to a report from Deadline, the series will be produced by New Regency Television, after the company won the rights to it from 20th Century Television and A2 Studios. It will be helmed by Emma Broughton and Ed Rubin from New regency, while Georgia Catt and Jamie Bartlett, the co-writers of the original podcast, will help with production.
Ruja Ignatova: Businesswoman and Fraudster
The Missing Cryptoqueen tells the story of Dr. Ruja Ignatova, a Bulgarian tech businesswoman who developed a digital asset known as OneCoin. The OneCoin project attracted massive investment, with over 170investors across the world committing about $5 billion to the asset with the hopes that the self-proclaimed “Bitcoin killer” will fetch them sizable returns as its value increases over time.
It wasn’t to be, however, as Ignatova disappeared in 2017 after the digital asset was exposed for what it is. Per documents released to the BBC, investors from the United Kingdom spent almost €30 million on OneCoin, while the project also drew interest from investors in Germany, China, the United States, and Brazil. Rounds of investigations by the broadcasting giant revealed that OneCoin didn’t even have a blockchain. With investors becoming agitated, Ignatova boarded a flight to Athens in October 2017, and has not been seen since.
So far, law enforcement agencies have indicted Ignatova for money laundering, but given that she hasn’t been found, it has been challenging to bring her to justice or even get the funds that she allegedly embezzled.
Cryptoqueen’s Associates Take the Fall
Several associates of the crypto scam have been arrested and made to face the law in her stead. Last October, her brother Konstantin Ignatov pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges, and he’s set to spend the rest of his life in prison as his possible jail term stretches up to 90 years.
Law enforcement also recently charged Mark Scott, Ignatova’s personal attorney, for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering after he was found to have pocketed $50 million in fees for helping to facilitate a $400 million money-laundering operation for the crypto queen.
In November, he was found guilty of both, as a jury at the New York Southern District Court refused to buy his argument that he didn’t know anything about OneCoin’s fraudulent practices while he served as Ignatova’s personal attorney.
However, while Ignatov seems to have accepted his fate, Scott isn’t going down without a fight. Earlier this week, he filed documents challenging the federal government’s case against him, claiming, among other things, that OneCoin never operated within the United States and that he never met his accuser’s witnesses. The case is still ongoing, but it’s highly unlikely that his arguments will lead to any change to his sentence.