TL;DR: This is the craziest podcast we have ever recorded (and that’s saying a lot). The Missing Cryptoqueen is gripping the world right now with its ongoing story about OneCoin’s charismatic founder, Dr. Ruja Ignatova, and her abrupt disappearance in late 2017. We’ve grabbed investigative journalist Jamie Bartlett of the BBC to take us behind the scenes, and he confesses to having no idea where his serial will end up. Intrigue. Fraud. Heartbreak. Loss. Hope. Aspiration. Lies. Don’t miss this episode, available embedded in the article below, and on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Radio Public, Breaker, PocketCasts, PodBean, YouTube for Newer Episodes, YouTube Older Episodes, and Overcast.
The Missing Cryptoqueen Presented by Jamie Bartlett
BBC investigative journalist Jamie Bartlett spent the better part of a year documenting producer Georgia Catt’s and his quest to track down exactly what happened to the most successful cryptocurrency influencer you’ve never heard of, Dr. Ruja Ignatova (Dr. Ruja). Was she murdered? Kidnapped by mafiosos? Did she exit scam? Evading law enforcement?
She was glamorous and well-pedigreed, claiming an Oxford education among other achievements. She also fancied herself a leader of the then-nascent crypto phenomenon back in 2014, championing something like a better Bitcoin: more understandable, accessible to the average person. Dr. Ruja took her message of banking the unbanked, of upending the legacy financial system, to a worldwide audience seemingly desperate to believe.
And believe they did. Tapping into the Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) subculture, a slightly more sophisticated iteration of a traditional Ponzi scheme, her spiel resonated especially with the most economically vulnerable people on the planet. By 2015, governments and law enforcement began to take notice, issuing warnings, bans, arrest warrants, from Dr. Ruja’s native Bulgaria to India and beyond. It is estimated millions of people have participated in OneCoin, and the parent company denies any fraud or hint of impropriety.
It didn’t seem to matter. OneCoin took-in billions, yes billions, and made true believers into, well, a religious-like fellowship still very active today, though Dr. Ruja has been missing for two years, and the project’s co-founder, her brother, is jailed in the United States awaiting trial related to the scheme. Bartlett and Catt pick up the trail, and bring listeners along on their journey to uncover exactly what happened. It’s easily the best serial podcast you will listen to, and, just a warning: once you start you will not be able to stop. We tried to tell you!
00:00 Author turns into a media star
02:50 Cryptocurrency skeptic?
05:00 Jamie’s Mum Standard
08:30 Old school-style investigative journalism
09:25 Podcast is on-going, unfolding, as it airs
10:00 Dr. Ruja Ignatova
14:00 Scams are lies telling a greater truth
15:30 Using the broad philosophy of the cryptocurrency community
17:30 CoinSpice has something in common with OneCoin
18:10 Tim Tayshun Curry as a heroic figure, MLM world
20:20 No market, no one listens to warnings
23:00 Are regulators and legacy finance responsible for OneCoin-like scams?
25:00 Cryptocurrency too clunky to use, and that benefits scam artists
27:00 Doesn’t want crypto undermined
28:10 Journalists as part of the story
29:15 Watch your back
30:50 The biggest fraud of all time
32:30 Learning old fraud lessons
33:30 OneCoin rejects all allegations
35:15 So weird it’s funny
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